Bluewater Comics New “American Defenders: US Army” — A Review

Bluewater Comics, creators of such excellent biographies as Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh (for the company’s Political Power series) and Jesus Christ (for the company’s Faith series), has just released a wonderful new comic chronicling the history of the United States Army. As with all of the aforementioned efforts, this too has been penned by writer/author/journalist Don Smith, who along with the rest of the Bluewater  creative team, has crafted an entertaining, informative and well-researched tribute.

Featuring attractive illustrations, witty dialogue and purposeful, succinct conversation among toy soldiers, American Defenders manages to effectively encapsulate over 235 years of Army history into 28 pages, beginning with the lead-up to the American Revolution all the way through to the current battle against Islamic jihad in the aftermath of 9/11. Yet the book never gets bogged down by excessive information. Instead, it highlights all of the crucial events and American figures — from General George Washington to George W. Bush — that helped to forge the United States’ destiny, and concurrently, that of the US Army.

While incorporating famous quotes including a wry take-down of the American press by General Robert E. Lee, Don’s narrative weaves humor and fact to create a compelling documentary that’s both educational and revealing. In a short narrative, he expertly captures the personalities of famed American figures and invigorates the story of the American founding, the ensuing clashes between liberty and tyranny, and as a consequence, the inevitable maturation of the US Army from a ragtag militia to a world-class military force.

About midway through American Defenders, Don provides an excellent overview of the Army’s Command Structure, via a Q and A between the characters — something most of us who remain civilians never learned about in school. There’s also a nice mention of the USO and the iconic Bob Hope as he is shown entertaining the troops during World War II. The book ends by reminding Americans that “because they defend, we have to honor them.”

Bluewater Comics’ American Defenders: US Army does a fine job in doing just that. Get your copy today!

UPDATE: Published by Parcbench. Thanks Mike Fidanza!


Laughing at Bell’s Palsy

I am definitely not the only one dealing with a winter of discontent. My good friend, author/writer/journalist Don Smith has recently been afflicted with Bell’s Palsy but as the following video demonstrates, he’s handling it with remarkable grit, forbearance and humor. God bless you Don!

Be sure to check out all the videos as well as Don’s blog, where you’ll also find information about his book trailer service.


An Interview with Parcbench’s Don Smith, author of The Goffle Road Murders of Passaic County

Published by Parcbench on August 29, 2011:

For as long as I have known Don Smith (which is almost three years now), he has been hard at work on a book about the first murder in Passaic County, New Jersey. Aside from being a dedicated writer and regular contributor to Parcbench and numerous other sites, he has written several comic books. And now he can add another accomplishment to his resume: the publication of his second book, The Goffle Road Murders of Passaic County. I recently caught up with Don to talk about it in detail for Parcbench.

Daria DiGiovanni: First, congratulations on your second book! Ever since we met about three years ago, you have been hard at work on it, haven’t you?
Don Smith: First, thank you, and second, my goodness, you have no idea [LAUGHS]. I have been writing and researching  The Goffle Road Murders of Passaic County since sometime between 2002 and 2004.
Daria: For those who may not know who the Van Winkles are, can you give us a brief background and fill us in on their story, which forms the basis of your book?
Don: The Van Winkles were one of the oldest families in New Jersey. Judge John Van Winkle had built his home, a grist mill business and raised his family on what is today Goffle Road in Hawthorne, New Jersey and the house is still standing there. He ended up being a judge of the common pleas in Passaic County around 1837, but in 1850 he was murdered by one of his ranch hands.
Daria: What was the significance of this?
Don: Around 1848, Judge Van Winkle hired an Englishman named John Jonston. In late 1849, Jonston had been arrested for public drunkenness and he was brought before Judge Van Winkle, who basically admonished him.
Well on January 9, 1850, he snuck into the house at 2 a.m. by climbing up a ladder. He then slipped downstairs and brutally stabbed the Judge and his wife while they were in bed sleeping. The Judge was able survive long enough call for help and plan his funeral.
Jonston was caught at a nearby train station and brought back to the Judge’s house, where Van Winkle identified him as the killer. Jonston was subsequently hauled off to jail and by March, he was on trial for the murder. His defender was man named Socrates Tuttle.
Tuttle would go on to become mayor of Paterson in the 1870s and his daughter, Jennie, would marry future Vice President Garrett Hobart. Hobart would die in 1899 and had he survived he probably would have been President of the United States after President William McKinley had been shot in 1901.
Instead, Governor Teddy Roosevelt was named the vice president and he became President in 1901.
Daria: Oh that is interesting.
Don: Well the interesting thing is that Judge Van Winkle was buried in Cedar Lawn Cemetery across from the mausoleum of Garrett Hobart.
Daria: What an amazing coincidence! How did you stumble upon this story?
Don: I found an article at the Hawthorne Library that had been dated from the 1960s that talked about the death of the Van Winkles and I thought, “Hey this would be cool to turn into an article for ‘Weird NJ’.” And the next thing I knew, I sold it as an article idea for a local newspaper, which led to a long career in local journalism, comic books, different internet radio shows and even an amazing gig here at Parcbench.
Daria:  Where can people get the book?
Don: They can see it on my author website, Don Smith. And as you know, I am always on Facebook.
Daria: Thanks for talking with us.
Don: Thank you, Daria!
Author’s Note: Follow Don on Twitter and read Don’s Blog.


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