History of Her Future, a graphic novel review

I don’t know what I was expecting. Superheroes maybe, but what I got was something entirely different. I finally read a graphic novel, and I LOVED it! History of Her Future, by Ron Falzone and illustrated by Julian Grant, is a dark, heart-rending graphic novel and a fictionalized account of Lizzie Borden’s life after acquittal.

As the quirky title may suggest, Falzone writes the story in reverse chronological order from Lizzie’s death backwards in time to the murder of her father and stepmother. It’s a challenging way to tell a story and still keep the tension high and the reader interested, but Falzone succeeds.

The townsfolk, the press, even Lizzie’s immediate neighbors turn a “not guilty” woman into a notorious celebrity. Greedy businesspeople take advantage of her. Church members gossip. Lizzie tries and fails to reinvent herself. By the end of the graphic novel you want to shield Lizzie from the public, whisk her out of town, anything to save her from the limelight. And yet, there’s a twist that makes you question everything you thought you knew about the Bordens. Just ask the cat.

As for Grant’s artwork, the characters have a hip, stop-motion look. They come across as three-dimensional on the two-dimensional page, especially with the deep shadows that emphasize the characters’ expressions. The backgrounds look hand-articulated with smudged skies and dark brickwork, appropriate to both the tone of the book and the sooty era in which Lizzie lived.

Also, the characters’ costumes from the children to the nosy neighbor are delightfully detailed, right down to the intricate lace on sister Emma Borden’s veil.

For a majority of Grant’s illustrations, he uses an eerie perspective like the creepy camera angle in an Alfred Hitchcock movie just before the murderer lunges. In addition, the depth of the images from the character in the foreground to the fence or building in the background, together with the shadowing and the black-and-white coloring, give the reader the impression of an old-time newspaper article. In fact, the story is narrated by Emma to a newspaper reporter, a very clever marriage of narration and visuals.

Some of the panels have snipped corners and shadowed edges. These panels make it seem like you’re looking at vintage photographs mounted by the corners in an antique photo album.

There is nudity in the book. Rather than being prurient, the scene humanizes the nude character. Well-done.

I thought and searched and dug around through the pages, but I seriously have no gripes, nitpicks, or any negatives about this graphic novel.

I was sad for Lizzie. I was angry. (And yet, that twist . . . !) I am grateful for this new and different look at Lizzie Borden. Fantastic work by Falzone and Grant!

Here’s a link to the magazine-sized paperback which will be released September 1, 2020: History of Her Future. Go buy one. Buy two because it’d make a great gift for a history buff, horror fan, or graphic novel aficionado.

Today’s feature image is the infamous Lizzie Borden herself as depicted by Julian Grant in History of Her Future.

54 thoughts on “History of Her Future, a graphic novel review

  1. Great review. You make me want to read the book. “Lizzie Borden took an axe……” I believe she was from Fall River, Massachusettes where we used to go to buy cheap factory outlet clothes from the mills decades before outlet malls.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never read graphic novels, but if I wanted to, my sons have plenty scattered around their rooms. This one sounds like it’s perfect for me – and I have to read a graphic novel for book club in October. Thanks for the rec, Priscilla!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the artwork is unusual. I read the little captions on the page, and then I’d study the images before turning to the next page. It was a cool way to read a book. Thanks for stopping by, Tammy!

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  3. I used to read a ton of graphic novels (along with comic books and manga) back in the day. In fact, I have quite a collection, though it’s been years since I cracked open anything new. This seems like quite the extraordinary book. Great review, Priscilla.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I’m chasing after it.:-) As far as the regular fiction goes . . . hm, maybe we’ve mislabeled things over the years . . . now I’m wondering if the label makes the genre or if the genre makes the label. Thanks for commenting, KC!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My son is a huge fan of graphic novels, but I just can’t get my head around them. Maybe I don’t have the right sort of brain. This one does sound amazing, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I became aware of the case when I was researching Agnes de Mille (she created a ballet based on her story) for a course on the American Musical years back and I’ve been fascinated ever since. I’m not a big reader of graphic novels, but this one sounds very intriguing. Thanks, Priscilla! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an intriguing review, Priscilla, from the storytelling to the illustrations. I haven’t read a graphic novel yet. I’m not sure why I haven’t tried one. This sounds so interesting. I might give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just looking up the movie, and seems they’ve made a newer one that I haven’t seen. The one I remember was from like 1975, and starred Elizabeth Montgomery, called “The Legend of Lizzie Borden”.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. A beautiful review, Priscilla. What an original way to build a story-line. I am not familiar with this story, but on reading your review sounds a bit like a witch hunt. Shame, poor Lizzie.
    Funny thing, there were no comic strip magazines available for purchase while I grew up in Romania – unless someone brought some printed overseas, usually France or the US.

    Liked by 1 person

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