Above and Below NM Drawn & Quarterly Two Stories of the American Frontier James Sturm


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Above and Below Two Stories of the American Frontier GN (2004) #1
Published Sep 2004 by Drawn & Quarterly

1st printing. “The Revival!” and “Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight!” Story and art by James Sturm

Before his breakthrough book, The Golem’s Mighty Swing, James Sturm produced two bold, remarkable short novellas set in different periods on the American frontier. The first story, “The Revival,” is a devastating examination of religious fundamentalism at the turn of the 19th century. This is followed by “Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight,” a story of voracious greed set against the backdrop of an Idaho mining town built on the blood of massacred Chinese. Both novellas are collected together for the first time in this eighty page deluxe comic book. Softcover (Saddle-Stitched/Stapled), 80 pages, B&W. Cover price $9.95.

James Sturm’s Above and Below: Two Stories of the American Frontier (Drawn and Quarterly, paper, $9.95), collects a pair of stories of desperation and desperate hope on the American frontier. The “below” story, of dark doings in a mining town in Idaho, is very fine, though it does not compare to the briefer, luminous “above” portion, called “The Revival,” which opens with an exhausted couple traveling by night to a massive religious revival in Kentucky in 1801. They are utterly alone, with a sad secret in tow, and hungry for miracles. The woodcutlike starkness of the looming forest makes it plain: to the 19th-century pioneer, this might as well have been outer space. The revival, as Sturm gleaned through careful research, offered an oasis of companionship, entertainment and brief salvation from the land itself. One can see how Americans like these would have yearned for a message that this dangerous, lonely place was actually part of some divine plan.

Near mint, 1st print.