In this audacious graphic biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hendrix crafts a portrait of a man of faith grappling with the question of what it means to be an ethical and moral person.
Hendrix is clear that this account is not a complete biography, noting his goal is “underlining the essential themes found in Dietrich’s life.” Pivotal moments from his subject’s childhood through his execution are chronicled. Bonhoeffer’s worldview is transformed when he goes to New York City in 1930 as a young white seminarian and befriends two classmates—an African-American and a white Frenchman—who help awaken him to systemic racial injustice, pacifism, and the necessity of keeping the church independent from the state. From his year in America, “Bonhoeffer’s theology [is] transformed from thought into action, the creation of something he called ‘civil courage.’ ” This prompts Bonhoeffer to speak out publicly against Hitler, found the breakaway Confessing Church, spy for the German Resistance, and join the plot to assassinate Hitler that ultimately costs him his life. Interwoven with Bonhoeffer’s story is extensive historical information. Hendrix’s striking artwork—done in a limited palette of black, turquoise, and red—relies heavily on typography and visual metaphor. Some of the most striking illustrations depict Nazism as a ferocious, demonic wolf. Another portrays Bonhoeffer as the biblical David with a sling facing a Goliath who holds a bloodied spear and swastika-emblazoned shield.
Hendrix’s challenging and complex content demonstrates the trust he has in the intelligence of his audience. (bibliography, source notes) (Nonfiction. 10-18)