Author David Carlson and illustrator Landis Blair researched their story in the extensive Leopold Loeb archives at Northwestern University’s Deering Library, The Chicago History Museum, UChicago’s Regenstein Library and the Newberry Library. They also conducted interviews with Matt Rizzo’s son Charlie and former Stateville guards and employees.
The central argument in this graphic novel explores what it means to tell the truth; Rizzo makes the claim that “omerta” is a legitimate response to his situation. Newly blind, in an 8X12 cell, with no education, Rizzo figures his life is over so why not keep silent about his cohort who got away. Rizzo tries to get Leopold to help him commit suicide. In response, Leopold, a hyperpolyglot, teaches himself to read Braille so he can teach Rizzo how to read and immerses him in a classical education that transforms Rizzo’s life.
In the spirit of combining image and text to tell a story, this presentation combines our historical research with the final visual elements in the graphic novel.
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