Dawn of the Unread

There is space in my working life for more than To End All Wars, remarkably, among which commissions is a curious project originated by Left Lion’s literature editor, James Walker, entitled Dawn of the Unread. The idea is to produce a dozen or so short on-line comic narratives about local East Midlands figures in literature who will slide into obscurity as they and their stories disappear from the shelves of libraries that are closing down. Something like that…

Not quite having a handle on the premise, I decided to simply do my own thing and tell the story of a book called The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz, a gentleman I bumped into in my late twenties and was astonished to find working as a glorified technician at Trent Polytechnic, in Nottingham. His story is about his remarkable escape from the Soviet gulag and subsequent trek across 4,000 miles of mountains, forests and deserts to find freedom in India. My story is about the huge impact Slav’s book had on me when I was a kid.

I also explore the controversy that erupted around the book, particularly after the Peter Weir film that strove hard to disassociate itself from its source, not least by calling itself The Way Back. Was Slav’s book actually a work of fiction? Did anybody escape the gulag and make this remarkable journey across the wilderness? Does it really matter when the book and its author inspired so many to undertake their own incredible journeys?

This mock outdoor magazine cover is the first completed artwork for my contribution to the project. It acts as an embed from the main comic pages, and is the gateway into a handful of short articles exploring issues raised in the comic, as featured on this cover. It will be animated to turn and open, revealing the mock article to readers.

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