‘Booth’ is a historically fictitious account of John Wilkes Booth, the actor, from a prominent theatre family, known for pulling the trigger and ending the life of one of America’s most beloved presidents, Abraham Lincoln. The graphic novel is a piece of dramatized fiction due to the little known direct accounts of Booth’s life and attempts to shed light on a man forever immortalized and intertwined with one of the United States’ great historical leaders. Through extensive research, Colbert stitches together the rare accounts of a young man torn by conflicts of war, familial strife, and love affairs to showcase a short life that may have been one of more prominence had the tides of war turned the other way and the American Civil War been won by the South, changing the face of society we witness in today’s terms. Colbert herself, in giving her reasoning behind writing the graphic novel, states in an interview at newsarama.com that she, “wanted to capture the torment and the tumult of the times through moving alongside this one man’s tortured route to infamy.” ‘Booth’ does accomplish this goal of referencing the age and the shedding of light on a man that many are unfamiliar with in annuls of American history. What the graphic does not succeed in, however, is the meshing of story and illustration in giving the reader a sympathetic and engaging protagonist.
The main problematic issue I found with this graphic novel was explained to me in the above aforementioned interview at newsarama.com. In it, the illustrator, Tanitoc, explains that he met with the author only once during the collaboration. I fail to grasp why this would be, but, it is apparent within the pages. J.W. Booth, nor any of the other main characters in the graphic, has virtually no portrayed emotions or physical individuality outside of a mustache hear and a particular colored wardrobe there. At times it is rather difficult telling who is who and who is saying what. Another annoyance is the abundant dialogue bubbles with simply a “?” or an “!” inserted in them. The coloring is rather monotone and drab with generally only the character driven clothing inserted with any bright marks. Was this intended to signal an old-timey nature to the product? In conclusion, ‘Booth’ appeared to be rushed along, not typical of the great work I see coming out of First Second Publishing.