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This article is about the graphic novel. For the film, see A History of Violence (film). For the Jedi Mind Tricks album, see A History of Violence (album).
A History of Violence

A History of Violence cover
Publisher Paradox Press/Vertigo
Date 1997
Page count 286 pages
Creative team
Writer(s) John Wagner
Artist(s) Vince Locke
ISBN ISBN 1-56389-367-3

A History of Violence is a graphic novel written by John Wagner and illustrated by Vince Locke, originally published in 1997 by Paradox Press and later by Vertigo, both imprints of DC Comics.[1]

It is also the source for the film of the same name directed by David Cronenberg, the first cinematic adaption of a work by John Wagner since 1995's Judge Dredd. The film was the last major Hollywood film to be released on the VHS format.[2]


Plot summary

The story concerns a small town Michigan cafe owner, Tom McKenna, who becomes a local hero after defending his store from an attempted robbery. When his story receives national attention, several members of the New York City Mafia arrive in town, believing him to be someone named Joey, who crossed them 20 years earlier. Tom protests his innocence to everyone, but eventually his façade is dropped and he is forced to confess his history of violence to his wife and son and eventually the police.

Namely, he and his friend performed a well planned and spectacular assassination and robbery of mobsters in their youth in retaliation for the murder of a relative. Unfortunately, Tom's friend foolishly decided to flaunt his take, which allowed the mob to identify him as one of the assailants and abduct him for revenge. Meanwhile, Tom barely escaped the same fate and fled the city with the intent of starting over with a new identity.[1]

Fortunately for McKenna and his family, their lawyer arrives and learns that the police failed to Mirandize him, which makes his confession inadmissible in court. However, as the McKenna family is transported to the father's original city to deal with related legal matters, the mobsters learn of McKenna's detention and plan their revenge with a horrific surprise.

Film adaptation

In 2005 the novel was adapted into a film by David Cronenberg, starring Viggo Mortensen.

While the first half of the film is faithful to the source, the remainder of the film takes many liberties with the story. Some changes are relatively minor (in the film, the main character's name is Tom Stall, he lives in Indiana and the gangsters pursuing him are from a Philadelphia-based Irish Mob), the main character's brother, played by William Hurt, bears virtually no resemblance to the corresponding character in the graphic novel.

Although criticized for its graphic violence, the film's reviews were largely favorable and it garnered recognition at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as Academy Award nominations for Hurt (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role) and writer Josh Olson (Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published).

In a March 2009 issue of Now (magazine), comicbook experts Christopher Butcher and Peter Birkemoe praised the film while panning the original comic.[3]


  1. ^ a b Irvine, Alex (2008), "A History of Violence", in Dougall, Alastair, The Vertigo Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 87, ISBN 0-7566-4122-5, OCLC 213309015  
  2. ^ article
  3. ^

Other sources


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to A History of Violence (film) article)

From Wikiquote

A History of Violence is a 2005 film about how when the owner of a diner becomes a public hero after foiling a robbery, he is targeted by mobsters who claim he is an old rival with a secret past.

Directed by David Cronenberg. Written by John Wagner, Vince Locke and Josh Olson.
Everyone has something to hide. taglines


Carl Fogarty

  • You should ask Tom... how come he's so good at killing people?
  • Still crazy fucking Joey.

Jack Stall

  • If I rob Mulligan's pharmacy, are you going to whack me if I don't give you a piece of the action?
  • Who is your daddy, and what does he do?


  • Do you like being married? Does it work for you? I can't see it working for me. I never felt the urge, you know. A lot of great looking women in the world. I never met one, made me want to give up all the others. Sure you can fuck around, but it's so much damn work, keepin' it quiet. It's not worth the effort. Don't see the upside. You see the upside Joey?


Richie Cusack: [After his guys fail to kill Tom] How do you fuck that up?


Tom Stall: In this family, we do not solve problems by hitting people!
Jack: No, in this family, we shoot them!

Carl: Got anything to say before I blow your brains out, you miserable prick?
Tom: I should have killed you in Philly.
Carl: That's right.

Tom: I'm here to make peace. Can I do anything to make things right?
Richie: You can do one thing... You can die.

Richie: Jesus, Joey!
[Tom/Joey shoots him]
Tom/Joey: Jesus, Richie.


  • Everyone has something to hide.
  • Tom Stall had the perfect life... until he became a hero.


External links



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