John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, made himself the stuff of legend by spreading the seeds of apple trees from Wisconsin to Indiana. Along with that, he offered the seeds of nonviolence and vegetarianism, good relationships with Native Americans, and peace among the settlers. He was one of the New World’s earliest followers of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. The story of John Chapman operates as a counter-narrative to the glorification of violence, conquest, and prevailing notions of how the West was Won.
It differentiates between the history and the half-myths of Johnny Appleseed’s life and work: His apples, for instance, were prized for many reasons, but none more so than for the making of hard cider. He was also a real estate speculator of sorts, purchasing potentially fertile but unproven acres and then planting saplings before flipping the land. Yet, he had less interest in financial gain―and yes, this is an accurate part of the mythology―than in spreading visions of peace and love. Johnny Appleseed brings this quintessentially American story to life in comics form.
“The ‘St. Francis of the Frontier’ comes alive in this winsome history of utopian agitation in antebellum America.” ― Boston Globe
“Johnny Appleseed charts the life of John Chapman, a man who planted a ridiculous number of apples in the Midwest while eschewing a philosophy of peace and copious hard cider. Appleseed tends to persist as a character of folklore, but his biography is filled with moments just as massive and subversively zen.” ― Paste
Paul Buhle, formerly Senior Lecturer at Brown University, produces radical comics, has written and edited many books, and is the co-editor, most recently, of It Started in Wisconsin. With Mari Jo Buhle, he is the coeditor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
Noah Van Sciver is an Ignatz award-winning cartoonist whose work has appeared in the Best American Comics series, the Fantagraphics anthology series NOW, and Mad magazine. His many graphic novels include The Hypo and The Complete Works of Fante Bukowski. He lives with his family in Columbia, South Carolina.
112 page full color hardcover
Fantagraphics Books, 2017