Stand At Attica
Frank “Big Black” Smith and Jared Reinmuth
Lettered by Andworld Design
“Four days in 1971 changed the course of American history”
This was an impulse buy when I went to pick up all my stuff that the guys at the comic book store hold for me. I was walking around the store while they rang me up, because that takes some time, and I saw this graphic novel on the display shelving unit where they put the things they want to highlight or are new, etc. I saw this and the artwork on the cover immediately caught my eye. It is clean and original artwork with exceptional eye appeal in my opinion. So, I picked this up and added it to my seemingly never-ending order.
This graphic novel is solely based on and entirely about real people and real events. These events being the inmate protests at Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Attica, a city in the state of New York. But this wasn’t just any maximum-security prison at the time. The particular facility had what was called a “CS Gas System”. This was basically a blocking off and ventilation system that would trap prisoners and discharge o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, the main ingredient in CS Gas, commonly called Tear Gas.
The protests by the inmates that took place on 09 September 1971 were based on demands for better living conditions, better treatment and other political rights came just two weeks after the murder of an inmate named George Jackson at San Quentin State Prison in California. The prisoners would eventually gain control of the prison, take hostages and work with negotiators over the course of four days, working through some almost twenty-seven demands. However, once patience ran out, a raid was executed on the premises and when all was said and done State Troopers had fired some two thousand rounds of ammunition, twenty-nine inmates had lost their lives and ten guards had been killed in the line of duty.
Frank “Big Black” Smith was serving a sentence at Attica when the protests happened and when they turned from protests to riots. He had been selected by other rebelling inmates to be their Chief of Security during the riots. His acceptance of this role caused a brutal and violent revenge punishment to be unleashed upon him after the riot was over. He was tortured relentlessly until his release. As you will see though, none of this would sway him from changing his life and becoming a leader in his community and a contributor to all of society.
The very personal account meticulously detailed in this graphic novel tell the story of what happened at Attica Correctional Facility during those four days is certainly an in depth, emotional and very dramatic and disturbing series of events. Even more troubling is that you know it’s all true. This horrifying first-hand account is from someone who was actually there and lived these moments in our history. And he played a major part because as Chief of Security he would have been apprised of the majority if not all information regarding the happenings of the riot and negotiations in progress.
And I do really like the artwork. I think it is an excellent use of an array of natural colors and heavy blocking for emphasis. It really gives the writing extra impact and has an excellent effectiveness in highlighting various parts of the plot.
There is an obvious honesty in the writing of this graphic novel, the events being told through the eyes of one of the main surviving victims. This man was actually there. He lived it. He lived through it. He was actively a part of it. And this is his story.
Truly yet another true crime eye opening account of circumstances that blatantly shows the senseless inhumanity that existed in the penal system then and what motivated change for inmates’ rights, starting the long fight to getting proper and fair treatment for inmates all over the country.
This was definitely an interesting read. I always love the stuff that is based on true events. And this graphic novel is extremely well written, well-illustrated and well out together. It’s easy to read, easy to follow, fast to get through, full of first-hand information and a must have for any history or true crime lover.