Thursday, August 4, 2011

Graphic novels: the future of sports bios?

Graphic novels, if you were to summarize, have been the cool way to read about super heroes for some time.

They are comic books with an edge, and I've enjoyed them for a long time.

Graphic novels aren't just for super heroes, however. Author and artist Wilfred Santiago has changed that. The story of baseball great Roberto Clemente is now in graphic novel form. After reading it, I would recommend it to everyone, especially to young readers. I plan to have my son read it one day, because Clemente's tale is an interesting one.

The official title of the graphic novel is "21: The Story of Roberto Clemente." It chronicles the former Pittsburgh Pirates' life growing up in Puerto Rico, his great baseball career, his humanitarian missions and tragic end to his life on Sept. 18, 1972.

I've always been intrigued by Clemente. He's the only major-leaguer to finish his career at exactly 3,000 hits. He did so on the final day of the 1972 season. Then, in the offseason, he was flying back to his home country to assist in relief efforts following an earthquake. His plane never made it, crashing and killing all aboard.

Because of that, Clemente remains a bit of a mystery to those who never saw him play, but Santiago's graphic novel brings Clemente to life in glorious fashion, and is not be missed.

- Mark Podolski

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