cover image Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

Peter Bagge. D&Q, $21.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN SBN 978-1-77046-269-4

Bagge follows his previous graphic novel, Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, with another portrait of an iconoclastic American woman. Raised in an all-black farming town before attending Howard University, Hurston became a celebrated writer and anthropologist but clashed politically with much of the black intellectual community up north. Bagge depicts her life in his iconic spaghetti-limbed, cheery-colored cartoon style. He has a frustrating tendency to hurry through the material, though: Hurston decides to launch the literary magazine Fire!! with her friends, only to be shown closing up shop on the next page, and goes from considering a marriage proposal to the thick of her first marriage in two panels. It’s easy to see what attracted Bagge to the material: brilliant, outrageous, prone to visions and mysticism yet fiercely pragmatic, Hurston is an irresistible character, and Bagge’s extensive, opinionated endnotes attest to his fascination. But better focus and pacing would give needed structure to Hurston’s freewheeling life. (Mar.)