Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, Author, Umlando Wezithombe, With with Umlando Wezithombe. Norton $19.95 (193p) ISBN 978-0-393-33646-7

Like most graphic novels produced with educational intent, the art takes a far second to the didactic text in this graphic biography of the South African icon. It’s tough to criticize a book created to contribute to the ongoing canonization of the still-living Mandela. The intent is clear from the lack of individual creator credits, since who actually wrote these words and drew these pictures isn’t important to the Mandela Foundation; what matters is that this is an authorized, approved biography created in a format to attract the attention of younger people, those who might not have been alive during the decade when “Free Nelson Mandela” was a politically important chant. The likenesses are adequate in standard poses, but wildly varying when the artists are called upon to deviate from reference, with faces appearing deformed. Much of the art consists of boring talking heads. Mandela was born in 1918, and the book will be released on his 91st birthday. That’s an achievement to be congratulated, but this dull history comic should be far down the gift list. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/22/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
Hardcover - 193 pages - 978-0-393-07082-8
Hardcover - 204 pages - 978-84-939489-5-5
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