‘Of Dust and Blood”

‘Of Dust and Blood p 59” (2016)
by Val Mayerik (1950 -)
17.5 x 11.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

“Of Dust and Blood” is an original graphic novel, developed through a Kickstarter campaign by writer Jim Berry and featuring veteran illustrator, Val Mayerik. The story details the day of The Battle At The Little Big Horn through the eyes of Greenhaw, a 7th Cavalry scout on one side of the battlefield, and Slow Hawk, a young Lakota warrior on the other.

The story is a compelling drama while being as historically accurate as possible. Although the two protagonists are fictional, there are plenty of featured appearances by the famous characters of the day – G.A. Custer, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse – all highlighting what it might have been like on a hot afternoon in 1876. The 96 page hardcover book is 11.5 x 7.5 in., and has a limited first edition run.

Search on eBay for the author’s store. As of this writing, the book costs $30.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass (and commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand) was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred June 25–26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

The fight was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull. The U.S. 7th Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a major defeat. Five of the 7th Cavalry’s twelve companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count included 268 dead and 55 severely wounded.

Custer underestimated the size of the tribal communities present, and had no strategically defensible position. By almost all accounts, the Lakota annihilated Custer’s force within an hour of engagement.

P.S. As part of the Kickstarter reward level that I contributed to, a character was drawn into the book based on any picture of me that I sent to Val. And I got the page and the hand-colored version of the page in return. This is the page. Here is the picture I sent him (figuring a soldier would not be 60…) and “my” character in the book. I got to be in a parallel panel placement with Custer!

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