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International Mystery in Midnight Sun
New Historical Fiction Graphic Novel in December

In May 1928, the Italian airship the Italia embarked on an ambitious and dangerous expedition to the North Pole. A celebratory radio communiqué from the international crew announced their arrival at their destination, but soon all communications ceased. Excitement turned to uncertainty, and a world-wide search effort was launched to recover the crew of the Italia, whose fate was unknown.

Ben Towle, a nominee for a Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition Eisner Award in 2004, captures the tense mood during the weeks of search in his graphic novel Midnight Sun, to be released in December 2007 from SLG Publishing. Midnight Sun follows H.R., a down-on-his luck American reporter. He's dispatched to cover the story of the lost Italia at the top of the Earth, where the Arctic summer means there is almost perpetual daylight.

“The tone of this series may take readers familiar with my last work by surprise,” said Towle, referring to his graphic novella Farewell, Georgia, which attracted the attention of the Eisner Awards judges. “But it’s a story that’s close to my heart—one that I’ve been developing and editing and re-editing since before I’d even conceived of any of my prior projects. It’s historical fiction, I suppose," Towle added, “but heavy on the fiction.”

The Italia was a real airship and its disappearance and the subsequent search for its crew grabbed headlines worldwide, but since then it has become a little-known footnote in the history of aviation. “My first pass at the story was basically a melodrama chronicling the real-life story of the Italia, but I realized that what I really wanted to do was use the events of the crash and the personal dynamics of the stranded crewmembers to examine more universal themes like the interaction between fate and conscious choice, leadership and democracy, and love and obligation,” Towle said.

As Midnight Sun's story unfolds, a pre-Depression-era newspaper reporter discovers the facts surrounding the airship’s mysterious disappearance while the crew of the Italia contend with the perils of Mother Nature…and human nature. Underscoring their struggles is Towle's artwork, depicting both gray city scenes and stark Arctic landscapes.

Midnight Sun is a 136-page graphic novel that will retail for $14.95. It is available for pre-order from comic book stores with the Diamond code OCT073222, as well as at SLG's website, www.slgcomic.com, where a free PDF of the first chapter is also available for download.


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