Eureka Springs has long been a magnet for writers. I am, of course, guilty myself. It’s the reason that literally dozens of books have been written about this town.
Now, that number includes one damn good graphic novel.
With a sensibility edging furtively between steampunk, noir, and Goth, Sean Fitzgibbon’s “What Follows Is True: Crescent Hotel” tells the story of a few years in the life of a single building in Eureka Springs. That should tell you something about the depth of history here.
The graphic novel resurrects the story of the Crescent when Norman Baker purchased it in 1937 and turned it into a sham cancer hospital. Nurses wheeled dead bodies down to the basement-turned-morgue in the middle of the night so that other patients would believe they had been cured and gone home.
But you don’t buy a graphic novel just for the story as the words tell it. The best graphic novels are not an illustrated story, but a story told in both words and imagery in a way that words alone cannot.
Fitzgibbon’s shadowy, dream-like images always hint at something just beyond the bounds of the page. Otherworldly tones of sepia and rust combine with jagged angles and points of view to disorient the reader, compelling the eye to linger rather than skim.
‘Crescent Hotel’ is the first entry in what will be a ‘What Follows Is True’ series, chronicling forgotten moments of the bizarre in American history.
‘What Follows Is True: Crescent Hotel’ can be found locally at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum, or online at seanfitzgibbonart.com, where you can also see sample pages from the book.