Wednesday, July 19, 2006

John Hinckley Makes the Funny Papers

The Washington Post Sunday comics section features an educational strip entitled "Flashbacks," which recounts episodes from United States and D.C. history. Being both a history geek and a comics nerd, I look forward to these surprisingly sophisticated weekly installments. I enjoy the strip's tendency to focus on topics outside the historical mainstream, such as the city's architectural and African-American history.

But last Sunday's strip, detailing the background of St. Elizabeth's psychiatric hospital (longtime abode of Mr. John Hinckley) has to be my all-time favorite. For it boasts what surely must be the only graphical depiction of the Reagan assassination attempt ever to appear in a Sunday comics section:

Just look at that detail! In the foreground, Reagan being shoved into the limo by Ray Shaddock and Jerry Parr. In the middle distance, Jim Brady captured in mid-tumble. In the background, a grim Hinckley stark amid a crowd of orange supernumeraries, firing point-blank into the neck of Officer Tom Delehanty. And whereas the familiar press photos and videos look Southwest toward T Street, the artist has turned the action around, situating the reader almost at Reagan's point of view.

Now, a stickler might take issue with a few details: Delahanty was actually facing away from Hinckley and was thus shot in the back of the neck; Jerry Parr had graying brown, not blond, hair at the time, and Hinckley is not, in fact, that distinctive shade of yellow. But given my previously-expressed fascination with the events of March 30, 1981, I am more than willing to let these slide in the face of this educational tour de force.


  1. That is tremendous.

    I wonder if there will be some sort of Presidential Assassins Manga?

  2. Thanks very much for the link to the CBS thing.

    Hinckley's father was a major fundraiser for George HW Bush, the VP at the time. Hinckley's brother was scheduled to have dinner with Neil Bush, one of GWB's brothers, the night after the assassination attempt.

    "Jodie Foster! Jodie Foster!"


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