Comic Book artist Warren Pleece is at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to discuss his latest graphic novel Freedom Bound. The book is being released by Glasgow based publisher BHP Comics and Glasgow itself is partly responsible for the publication. The University of Glasgow looked at the history of black slavery in Scotland with the Runaway Slaves in Britain project. Previously Warren Pleece has investigated race in his book Incognegro with writer Mat Johnson. This was more of a noir/mystery book and took Johnson‘s Irish/African American heritage as an influence. Due to Warren’s work on Incognegro he was asked to take part in the Runaway Slaves project and this started conversations around Freedom Bound.
Freedom Bound looks at the history of slavery in Scotland. It presents three separate stories that are spread throughout the 1700’s. Warren states that: “With a focus on three lives we see the personal side of the history. This approach can show the bigger issues, as people can relate to the personal stories and this will hopefully inspire people to investigate the wider history around slavery in Scotland.” The personal nature of the story is obvious in the artwork. We see images projected behind the artist as he talks. The clean style expresses the emotion of the characters and these bold images will be palatable for the intended high school audience. Schools and education are a big part of the overall Freedom Bound project. Copies of the graphic novel are being sent to schools throughout Scotland. The history of slavery in Scotland is very much overlooked and the topic is rarely covered beyond specific University courses. A graphic novel with bold and vibrant imagery will engage readers in a way that a traditional text book may not. This underlines the importance of Freedom Bound and shows that graphic novels are the perfect medium to get people interested in important subjects.
When researching the book Warren states that he had to: “Take a step back to imagine the lives of the characters. Their experiences are very different to ours and require some distance to comprehend.” This step back has clearly given the artist space to tell an interesting and personal story. When discussing comics in general, Warren states that “The great thing about graphic novels is how much scope you have for storytelling”. Freedom Bound is a perfect example of excellent storytelling in a visual and vibrant medium.