Django, Hand on Fire: The Great Django Reinhardt

Salva Rubio and Efa, trans. from the French by Matt Madden. NBM, $19.99 (88p) ISBN 978-1-68112-287-8
The brilliant jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt (1910–1953) is given a high-drama origin story in this graphic biography scripted by Rubio and drawn by Efa, who collaborated previously on Monet: Itinerant of Light. Efa paints the early years of Reinhardt’s life in lushly romantic, historically detailed panels with characters given comically exaggerated facial renderings that recall the Pixar treatment. Growing up fatherless in a Roma community outside Paris called The Zone in the 1920s, the scrappy, teenage Reinhardt was tilting into delinquency when the gift of a banjo “charged with all the magic of American music” sent his life rocketing on a new trajectory. He began practicing until his fingers bled, and then one night heard jazz through the door of a nightclub that refused him entry and was transported. Soon, bands vied for the services of the rakishly arrogant, lightning-fingered teenager who blew his earnings at the card table and never learned to read. Just as his career was taking off, a fire left Reinhardt with third-degree burns and a nearly amputated left hand. But with stunning determination and cocksure arrogance (“I am the best in the world, after all”), he fought his way back into the music that gave his life meaning. The slim page count also leaves the story feeling truncated, though it mirrors the tragic early death of Reinhardt. It’s a passionate rendering of a fiery life that will leave readers wishing it did not end so quickly. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/24/2021
Release date: 01/01/2022
Genre: Comics
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