Batman might be the Caped Crusader and World’s Greatest Detective, but one comic book aims to teach people about a real-life vigilante: Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi Hunter.
Simon Says: Nazi Hunter, a comic book by writer Andre Frattino and artist Jesse Lee, is currently nearing its fundraising goal on Kickstarter. It’s based on the life of Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who escaped death because of his artistic skill (he was ordered to paint Swastikas on Nazi trains). After the war, Wiesenthal spent decades collecting information on former Nazis to try and bring them to justice, as well as protecting Jewish refugees and finding information on their missing families.
Frattino told io9 that he’s been working on the comic ever since he first heard Wiesenthal’s story in college almost a decade ago. While Simon Says isn’t a strict biography about Wiesenthal’s life (it combines parts of other Nazi hunter stories), Frattino said it represents a key part of our history that’s slowly being forgotten or ignored.
“We’re going to have the next generation who’s not going to have anyone who’s affected by the Holocaust,” Frattino said. “Not only are we forgetting, we’re normalizing it. We’re playing it down. ‘Oh it was so long ago, it doesn’t matter anymore, we won’t do it again.’ Those who don’t remember their mistakes are bound to repeat them.”
As comic books and graphic novels become mainstream, we’re seeing them being used more as educational tools. There are comics about coding, science, and especially history, something Frattino would like to see more of in the future. For example, there’s Maus, an award-winning graphic novel about a man’s complicated and heartbreaking relationship with his father, a Holocaust survivor. And Rep. John Lewis’ biographical graphic novel, March, has been used to teach children about the civil rights movement—it even surged in sales after President Donald Trump’s derogatory remarks about Lewis.
Frattino said, given how much comic books have grown over the years, that it’s important to recognize real heroes alongside fictional ones. Their stories might not involve superpowers, but they’re just as incredible—possibly even more so, because they’re about real people doing unbelievable things.
“As far as comic books go, we’re so used to developing superhero characters with special powers,” Frattino said. “Some of these stories that we have on superheroes are based on real people, but real people don’t get their time in the sun because we’re used to these fantastical characters.”
Should Simon Says reach its fundraising goal, it’s set to come out by the end of 2017. Frattino added that he’s got plans for at least two other historic comic books after it. You can preview a few pages below: