Growing up in the 70s, I hunted Marvel and DC comics off the racks of the local pharmacy as well as the treasure troves of garage sales, flea markets, and book exchanges where you could swap a handful of change for an armload of books . . . Back then, the discoveries were endless and with no internet database to comb through, everything was a surprising discovery of vast importance . . .
Val Mayerik’s books were some of the best, Creatures On The Loose, Ka-Zar, Savage Tales, and Fear, where he drew The Man-Thing and introduced the world (in collaboration with Steve Gerber) to Howard The Duck – and Supernatural Thrillers where he drew my personal favorite, N’Kantu, The Living Mummy.
I met Val at a comic convention in Portland, Oregon around 2006, intent on producing a graphic novel about Ignaz Semmelweis, the Hungarian obstetrician who connected the deaths of new mothers to the dirty hands of their doctors. Val took a commission to produce a cover (below) which spawned a collaboration that has included a short film, a handful of pitches, and our book, Of Dust And Blood.
Why a book about a famous clash between Native Americans and Custer’s 7th Cavalry? The first and most important answer is that it is an incredible story, layered, rife with compelling characters, pathos, and historical significance. Ultimately, it is transfixing in its drama and is still hotly debated to this day.
Also, simply, I wanted to work with Val and, over the years, I came to appreciate what was interesting to him as an artist. He is a historian with a deep understanding of The Indian Wars of the late 19th century and a love of western art. He also came to the book as a horse owner, someone with a respect for the relationship between horse and human. His perspective is on full display in the book and he does a masterful job of depicting that unique bond.
Originally Of Dust And Blood was published as a result of a successful Kickstarter project from 2013. Check it out here.
Lots of images and info if you are so interested.