In her home in Everett, artist Deb Fox holds a copy of a new graphic novel she created based on the Everett Massacre. Photocopies of historic photographs hang on her studio wall behind her. She created the art for the graphic novel using charcoal. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

In her home in Everett, artist Deb Fox holds a copy of a new graphic novel she created based on the Everett Massacre. Photocopies of historic photographs hang on her studio wall behind her. She created the art for the graphic novel using charcoal. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

New graphic novel tells the story of Everett Massacre

Related: Events this month mark Everett Massacre’s 100th anniversary

Deb Fox isn’t an Everett native, she’s from Southern California. She’s no historian, she’s an artist who has worked in TV. Yet as the creator of “Everett Massacre: A Graphic Novel,” she knows plenty about the city’s past.

At her home in Everett’s old Riverside neighborhood, one wall of her studio is papered with historic pictures. Some faces on her wall were key figures in the 1916 waterfront shootout that became known as the Everett Massacre.

Images of Jefferson Beard and Charles Curtis are there. They are the Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies killed Nov. 5, 1916, during the armed confrontation between Everett’s establishment and members of the Industrial Workers of the World union.

Known as Wobblies and seen by ruling locals as anarchists, the IWW members shot to death were Hugo Gerlot, Abraham Rabinowitz, Gus Johnson, John Looney and Felix Baran. Some accounts say as many as a dozen Wobblies may have died in the mayhem, with some bodies later fished from Port Gardner in secret.

It’s a saga that intrigues Fox, who has lived in Everett about seven years. “Everett was really rough and tumble. It was a violent time,” she said.

Her husband, Steve Fox, is retired from Boeing and serves on the Everett Historical Commission. He also sits on the board of Historic Everett, a preservation group that commissioned Deb Fox to write and draw the graphic novel.

Her story is a blend of fact and fiction. It’s the true-life tale of mill owners, workers, and the ruthless beatings of Wobblies that happened at Beverly Park days before the massacre. Fox also injected fictional characters, a young brother and sister caught up in the day’s violence.

To this day, no one knows who fired the first shot. For weeks, Wobblies had been coming to town in support of a shingle weavers’ strike on the waterfront. When about 300 Wobblies came north from Seattle on the steamers Verona and Calista that bloody Sunday, they were met by an army of locals bent on protecting business interests — and by Sheriff Donald McRae, who was injured in the gun battle.

The artist’s charcoal drawings capture the era’s smoky atmosphere on the waterfront and in a men’s club where town rulers plot against Wobblies. Her originals are larger than those in the paperback published by Historic Everett.

Fox said her research began nearly a year ago. She read Norman A. Clark’s book “Mill Town,” which covers the social history of Everett from its start to the 1916 labor strife. She learned more in the book “Lumber and Politics.”

“Everett Massacre” is her first graphic novel. “I grew up reading Archie comics, drawing my own comics and creating my own characters,” Fox said. “I was a storyboard illustrator in film and television, and did commercials. I segued into graphics and design.”

It was Dave Ramstad, who has long been involved with Historic Everett, who suggested Fox create the graphic novel.

“Everett has larger than life characters in its history — absolutely fascinating,” Fox said.

Fox will talk about her graphic novel at 1 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Everett Public Library as part of a month-long program of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Everett Massacre. Cameron Johnson, an Everett Public Library reference librarian, helped organize the speaker and film series. He also will give a talk, about the 1916 shingle weavers’ strike, at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the library.

“It’s kind of a mile post, one of the most powerful events in Everett history,” Johnson said of the 1916 violence. “There are still some strong feelings about it around Everett. We want to get people to talk about it.”

Fox is grateful to Historic Everett for sponsoring her book. “It was a fun, fun piece to do. The characters, like McRae, are amazing,” she said. “It’s easy to come at it from one angle. But the more I read about that time, the more I kind of understood the person in the middle — the average person of Everett.”

Graphic novel

“Everett Massacre: A Graphic Novel” by Deborah A. Fox, published by Historic Everett, is available for $5 at these Everett locations: J. Matheson Gifts, 2615 Colby Ave.; Peak Fitness, 2902 Rucker Ave.; Lamoureux Real Estate, 1904 Wetmore Ave.; Black Lab Gallery, 1618 Hewitt Ave.; Wicked Cellars, 2616 Colby Ave.; Bookend Coffee Company, Everett Public Library, 2702 Hoyt Ave.; and Cafe Zippy, 2811 Wetmore Ave.; or online at

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Freeland massage therapist charged with sex crimes

The judge set bail at $7,500 for the health care provider, who was accused of sexually assaulting two clients last year.

Suspected DUI crash injures trooper on I-5 north in Lynnwood

WSP spokesperson said two suspected impaired drivers have crashed into a state trooper in the past 24 hours.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

State Trooper Isaiah Oliver speaks to a BNSF worker at mile marker 31.7 as road closures and evacuations mount in response to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
As wildfires creep west of Cascades, county plans for next Bolt Creek

Wildfires are an increasing concern in Snohomish County. A new project aims to develop a better plan.

Everett High seniors, from left, Avery Thompson, Lanie Thompson, Melissa Rosales-Alfaro and Saron Mulugeta sit together in front of their school on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Everett, Washington. The group have called to question their district’s policy that does not permit graduates to decorate their mortarboards or graduation clothing. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
After student campaign, Everett schools allows custom graduation caps

“It’s a really good first step,” the Everett High School ASB president said. But the students still want relaxed rules for future classes.

People hang up hearts with messages about saving the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Future of historic Clark Park gazebo now in hands of City Council

On June 5, the Everett council is set to decide whether to fund removal of the gazebo. It could be stored elsewhere.

People fill the board room for public comment during a Marysville School Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Struggling Marysville schools dropped from insurance pool

In an unprecedented move, the board of the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool voted to drop the district by August.

A cyclist heads along Federal Avenue past a bike route sign near 46th Street SE on Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Bike sign project marks lanes, distances for Everett cyclists

Around the city, crews are putting up over 200 signs, geared toward helping bicyclists find their way around.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.