History Comics: The National Parks | Review
History Comics: The National Parks: Preserving America’s Wild Places
by Falynn Koch
First Second, $12.99 (paperback), $19.99 (hardcover)
There is a ton of material packed into this 128-page book, with new information on almost every page. A Sasquatch introduces us to how national parks can include scenic vistas, natural wildernesses, and historic sites, answering an eagle’s questions about who creates parks and why there are so many different kinds.
Along this journey, the reader visits the first parks, Yosemite and Yellowstone, and meets a wide variety of historical figures, from decision makers and politicians to artists and businessmen.
The overarching question is how to balance visitor enjoyment with protection. Many of the stories show how much was risked and destroyed before this system became established. Attitudes had to change, and it took a variety of discussions and advertisements, of a kind, to make that happen, as well as arguments pitting preservation against conservation.
Stories are told of Mesa Verde, the Everglades, and how indigenous peoples were treated. There’s continuing conflict between visitors, particularly once cars became a necessity, and protecting the ecosystems.
The cartooning is gorgeous. We get a good idea of how beautiful these locations can be, as well as plenty of humor in the caricatured schemes of various people. Plus, there’s our friendly guide, the large furry mythical creature, and a surprising variety of livestock.
I would expect no less from Falynn Koch, who knows well how to create entertaining, readable educational comics. She has also created Maker Comics: Bake Like a Pro!, Science Comics: Bats, and Science Comics: Plagues.
There’s so much information moved through quickly here that the short list of books for “Further Research” is much appreciated. History Comics: The National Parks can be read multiple times, with new facts standing out to the reader each time through.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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