On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In a deadly barrage of 67 shots, 4 students were killed and 9 shot and wounded. This is the story of the lives of these four young people and the events of those four days in May, when the country seemed on the brink of tearing apart.
It is not only the strongest work of graphic literature released so far this year, but one of the masterpieces of the medium, combining confident storytelling and rich factual detail into a work of devastating emotional impact ... Kent State doesn’t subordinate the art to the story. Every scene is dramatically staged and meticulously researched, with notes taking up the final dozen pages of the book ... One area where Kent State excels is its evocation of the social and political climate of the late 60s-early 70s ... What makes Kent State so powerful is how Backderf mostly keeps the subtext as subtext, and focuses on the lives of his characters. He makes sure we know each of the victims as a human being.
Kent State is Derf’s powerful interpretation of the day the Ohio National Guard fired 67 shots, killing four students and wounding nine others ... Kent State is handsomely produced, with a graphic hard binding and printing on heavy stock. The book’s heft underscores the psychological weight of its topic ... The book not only illuminates history but also brings a form of closure to an unforgivable, inexcusable episode ... Derf gives the book rhythm by varying the number of panels per page. He also varies the panel style for maximum impact.
Cartoonist Backderf meticulously recreates the events leading up to the slaughter in this graphic account based on extensive research and his own interviews ... His somewhat grotesque drawing style is reigned in here, as is befitting the somber nature of the project. The result, while remaining visually distinctive, vividly conveys the tragic events.