SHREVEPORT – Fifty years ago, Chile churned in turmoil as General Agusto Pinochet overthrew a democratically-elected government and began a de facto dictatorship that lasted nearly two decades.

The new government executed more than 3,000 people and pushed thousands more underground.

“Clandestine Stories” is a graphic novel that details the journey of siblings Ariel and Sol Rojas Lizana, part of a family involved in the resistance movement with the underground armed political group MIR (Revolutionary Left Movement).

Brothers Dr. Samuel Cannon and Christopher Cannon are publishing the autobiographical graphic novel for the first time in English and to a U.S. audience. Samuel is an assistant professor in the English and Languages department while Christopher is a former LSUS staff member.

“Memory and history are often very slippery and can vanish rather quickly,” said Samuel Cannon, an assistant professor in the English and Languages department. “What these graphic novels do is retain visual and cultural memory.

“A lot of times in history, you may read about something, and you’re imagining it maybe. But you’re not visualizing it as a tangible experience. Graphic novels bring you into a direct confrontation with the visual memory of people who lived through the experience.”

The authors were 14 and 10 years old, respectively, when Pinochet led the military coup in 1973.

“Clandestine Stories,” which is a best-seller in Chile and multiple other foreign markets like Germany, hasn’t been published in United States or in the English language – nor has any other Chilean graphic novel.

It’s the Cannon brothers’ mission to expose Americans to the rich and vibrant Chilean stories and art in the graphic novel format.

The Cannon brothers established an independent publishing company Ends of the World Publishing with plans to publish a second companion book titled “The Years of Allende,” which details Chilean president Salvador Allende’s socialist government from 1970-1973 before Pinochet’s coup.

“Seeing the quality of work and the lack of American publishers actively engaging with Latin American graphic novels, I pitched the idea that my brother and I found a company that brings this incredible art to North America in the English language,” Christopher said. “’Clandestine Stories’ was a no brainer in terms of its quality and the fact that it’s already a best-seller.

“We’re excited that this is the first foray into the U.S. market, and we feel like the (50th anniversary) of this world-changing event is a fitting time to release this important autobiographical work.”

In previous editions of “Clandestine Stories,” the authors used code names for many individuals to protect their identities. The authors decided to use real names in this edition to laud their bravery.

Both Cannon brothers are comic book aficionados from an early age.

Samuel Cannon started his academic journey into graphic novels in Mexico, where he lived for several years, before a friend turned him onto a Chilean comic book.

“They were little chapter stories about this one detective, but each chapter was illustrated by a different artist or written by a different author – it blew my mind,” Samuel Cannon said. “I started connecting with Chilean artists for the purpose of carrying out academic research, but my relationships with these artists became incredibly strong.

“So now I’ve taken on the role of assessing the comic book market for international export with the Chilean government.”

In 2016, Samuel Cannon helped organize a panel of Chilean comic book artists at San Diego Comic Con, the largest international stage for comic books and their fans.

Chile has had an annual presence at the event in each year since, including this past summer when Cannon sat on a panel with Chilean artists to discuss the 50th anniversary of Pinochet’s military coup and the aftermath.

“The reception overall was really positive … but there’s still a lot of social tension around Pinochet and that time period,” Samuel Cannon said. “There was a 70-year-old attendee yelling, ‘Long live Pinochet’ with others yelling that Pinochet was a murderer.

“Authors like (Ariel Rojas Lizana) said they’ve struggled to communicate to their own family and children about their experiences under this dictatorship, and it’s been powerful to see this book become links between generations. The older generation sees this as a way to help the younger generations understand that the conflict wasn’t that long ago (Pinochet was president until 1990 and commander-in-chief until 1998) and to see the way it impacts and shapes their country currently. The book serves as a memorial in a way to those that lost their lives and to the tens of thousands that were tortured and detained.”

“Clandestine Stories” can be ordered through the Cannons' website with The Years Of Allende and other Chilean titles coming soon.