An artist and activist who covered the civil rights movement, political conventions and many other historic events, McMahon described himself as a reporter who used art to tell stories. Important stories.
And now, thanks to his daughter, Margot McMahon, we learn of another compelling chapter.
Sculpted from her father’s memory, research and the author’s rich imagination, “Mac & Irene: A WWII Saga" tells the harrowing tale of her dad getting shot down over Germany during World War II and his grueling days in concentration camps.
This is also a love story, of Franklin’s devotion to his wife, Irene.
“Fire closed in on Mac’s part of the plane,” the author writes. “As he prepared to exit, his training kicked in—Mac folded up a silk map of Germany and tucked it up his sleeve. He then reached for his most precious possession, a photo of Irene, which he tucked in with the map. … Mac kicked out the escape hatch near his station. He looked down through the smoke and clouds four miles above the forest. The fire, the explosions, lack of oxygen, the guys behind, God! Mac jumped. “ ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph, spare me!’ His cry exploded in subzero air.”
In the camps, “an overwhelming hopelessness settled in his heart,” the author writes. “Hope was only a dim shadow tucked in a far dark corner of this crumbling confines."
To cope, he kept drawing in the camps: "During those long days, weeks and months, Mac’s purpose was to capture a likeness of each and every Fuehrer, Goon, Unteroffizier, Grenzpolizei, Kommandant and ‘ferret’ he could portray. In the moments when they weren’t looking, Mac caught expressions in the stroke of a pencil line on coarse appropriated paper.”
The book is adorned with Franklin McMahon’s wonderful artwork, high school cartoons, self-portraits and war correspondence.
Overall, “Mac & Irene” is a remarkable achievement.
Can’t wait for the next two installments: "If Trees Could Talk" and "RESIST! A Visual History of Protest." -Tim Bannon, Arts and Culture Editor