A new comic-book hero is being launched in the US in a volume called the Unknown Soldier. It sees a Ugandan doctor taking on the notorious Lord's Resistance Army rebels, who roam parts of the East African country.
Author Joshua Dysart told the BBC the Unknown Soldier character has its roots in WWII comics, but the under-reporting of the brutal Ugandan conflict, which he found out about in 2001, was his main inspiration.
“I was a bit of a news junky and did not know about a 16-year-old conflict with 1.3m displaced people and tens of thousands of kidnapped children, it was just staggering,” he told BBC’s Network Africa programme.
The Unknown Soldier is a US-educated pacifist doctor who returns home “to reverse the brain drain” but ends up getting involved in the war. “He becomes our vehicle to explore the nature of the violence,” says Mr Dysart.
The comic book author said he could find little information about the rebels, who abduct children and force them to fight, so he decided to visit northern Uganda for his research. “Everyone has a war story,” he said.
He took hundreds of photos for illustrator Alberto Ponticelli and spoke to many of the victims. “An older reformed child soldier told me he and several other children were forced to bite to death another person.”
“He clearly did his research. It is a representative of 20 years of horrors in northern Uganda, so it did feel authentic in very many ways,” Ugandan comic fan Rachel Mugara-Mutana told the BBC’s Newshour.
“I’m really dying to know what is in the rest of them and see how it will open up northern Uganda to the rest of the world,” she said. The first six of the monthly issues are in the debut DC Comics collection.
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