Graphic Novel Review: Captive of Friendly Cove: Based on the Secret Journals of John Jewett by Rebecca Goldfield and Mike Short
Posted on January 23, 2020 at 11:13 am by Gene Ambaum
Captive of Friendly Cove: Based on the Secret Journals of John Jewett by Rebecca Goldfield and Mike Short. Fulcrum, 2015. 9781936218110. 162pp including a list of commonly spoken words in the Nootkan language.
This graphic novel is based on the experience of sailor and blacksmith John Jewett, who lived for years as a captive of the Mowachaht people on Vancouver Island between 1803 and 1805. After the ship he was on, the Boston, arrived to trade in Friendly Cove, the ship’s captain insulted the local chief, Maquinna. His men later returned and slaughtered the crew, sparing the lives of Jewett because of his skills, and Thompson, because Jewett claimed he was Jewett’s father. After the ship’s goods were distributed at a potlatch and the ship burned, the men’s hope for rescue faded and they make a life for themselves, with Jewett creating jewelry, tools, and weapons. Overall they lived as well as their captors, and they come to understand how poorly the Mowachaht were treated by the Europeans and the reasons for their fury. Jewett comes across as ignorant at times and more enlightened at others, sometimes sorry for himself and at others just happy to be alive.
The writer, Goldfield, has created history and science documentaries as well as nonfiction comics. The art is realistic without being too gory, though the moment when the heads of the Boston’s crew are arranged on deck will be too much for some. For me it was a delight to find a graphic novel about the history of the Northwest in my local bookstore. I wish we’d had this in our high school library.