A Pacifist Treehugger Changes His World In Johnny Appleseed

by Hannah Means Shannon

Fantagraphics have newly released Paul Buhle and Noah Van Sciver’s Johnny Appleseed, a saga of a person who became the “stuff of legend” by spreading apple tree planting from Wisconsin to Indiana. Noah Van Sciver’s Fante Bukowski Two came out earlier this year from Fantagraphics, but he’s also responsible for books like The Hypo, the personal anthology Blammo, Saint Cole, and much more. His humor and sensitivity to historical subject matters make this new black and white work one that will engage you.

John Chapman was also known as Johnny Appleseed, and was a proponent of nonviolence and vegetarianism, as well good relationships with Native Americans, and someone who encouraged peace among the settlers in the growing United States.

He was one of the New World’s earliest followers of the Swedish theologian Emanuel Swedenborg and his life stands in stark contrast to the idea of violent Westward expansion in the development of the USA.

This new book cuts through the “half-truths” about Chapman and reveals new details, like the fact that his apples were sought in making cider and that he was an early real estate investor who would “flip” land previously thought unprofitable for growing. But at heart, he was indeed someone who focused on a message of peace, according to Johnny Appleseed.

This is definitely a book for our times to remind us of some of the more admirable ideas at work in the early days of settlement, and Buhle and Van Sciver are bound to craft a tale that will be inspirational and rather fascinating.

Johnny Appleseed is currently available from Fantagraphics.