25 February 2022

#AntarcticLog: Give me Shackleton

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here.

What can I say — Ernest Shackleton just kills me. Yes, Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole, and by goal-oriented criteria was the most successful. In a certain kind of heroic sense, Scott wins many hearts.  But, as the saying goes, “Give me Shackleton.” He’s the one who got every single man of the Transantarctic Expedition home alive, though he left their ship, Endurance, to the Weddell Sea. 

Scott died trying — and it’s dramatic and excruciating to read of his expedition. Shackleton, too, died in Antarctica, years after his extraordinary efforts, because of.a heart likely weakened by them. 

#AntarcticLog has described Shackleton — and his grip on me — before. In this comic, I discovered Shackleton at the heart of 69º S, a marionette production in which the ship Endurance itself had strings attached. 

I first had the opportunity to put myself in Shackleton’s shoes at an American Museum of Natural History exhibit about his expedition in the 1990s. In Antarctica, I imagine what it’s like to step inside the hut Shackleton stayed in, and to see, hear, and smell what he did. 

I hope they find Endurance — but I wonder what Shackleton would wish. 

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram