Publisher ‘captures’ bin Laden

Vancouver firm lands deal for graphic novel about manhunt

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A Vancouver comic book publisher will move into a new arena with a graphic novel about the hunt for the former world’s most-wanted terrorist.

Bluewater Productions has been tabbed by publishing giant Simon & Schuster for “Killing Geronimo: The Hunt for Osama bin Laden.”

It’s a milestone collaboration for the independent publisher, said Darren G. Davis, co-author and Bluewater president. It’s the first time they’ve worked with a publisher with the stature of Simon & Schuster, and the first time Bluewater has based a book on a historical event.

It also marks a major turn from recently published books based on the “Glee” television show or Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber.

“I like happy, fun things. This is pretty horrifying,” Davis said.

“It’s a scary subject,” Davis said, referring to bin Laden. “All the things he did, and how awful a human being he was.

“Bin Laden is not a cartoon villain and this book is not a garden-variety comic,” Davis said.

Just because the format is a graphic novel — sometimes described as a comic book for adults — “doesn’t mean it is treated lightly,” Davis said.

He is writing the book with Jerome Maida. They are using previously released information about the raid on May 2, when a dozen Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader. The SEALs signaled that they had achieved their objective with a message that “Geronimo” had been killed in action.

“We watched a lot of stuff on this and read a lot of stuff,” Davis said. “Some of the news shows included animated versions of the operation.

“Jerome was a journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer,” Davis said. “He knows the research part; I know storytelling.”

The 96-page book starts well ahead of the SEALs’ mission, detailing the events that led up to the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The illustrator is James Boulton, who’s been dealing with a significant challenge. The public has never seen the dozen men who took part in the mission, and none of the SEALs are given names in the book.

Boulton has to draw a team of distinguishable but unnamed individuals who are not just a dozen slight variations on a G.I. Joe action figure.

The panels drawn by Boulton also will have to pass scrutiny from service personnel and military enthusiasts on the lookout for technical errors.

“We know that from other books,” Davis said. “There’s nothing worse than getting an email telling you that something wasn’t right. We did a book, ‘Judo Girl.’ Somebody emailed us, ‘That’s not a judo move; that’s a blah-blah-blah move!’”

Davis said the book is due at the publisher in mid-November.

The Simon & Schuster Web site says the book — classified as a trade paperback — will be shipped on or around April 10, with a price tag of $15.