cover image African-American Classics: Graphic Classics Vol. 22

African-American Classics: Graphic Classics Vol. 22

Edited by Tom Poplun and Lance Tooks. Eureka, $17.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-9825630-4-5

Twenty-three works from a rich source of late 19th- and early 20th-century American literature get the graphic novel treatment in this wide-ranging anthology. Authors like W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes are represented, along with lesser-known but important African-American writers. Among the adapters are some artistic newcomers along with well-known comics figures like Kyle Baker (Nat Turner), whose version of Du Bois’s “On Being Crazy” is rich, inky and witty, and Jeremy Love (Bayou), who illustrates James Weldon Johnson’s poem “The Ghost of Deacon Brown.” The brutality of racism is depicted in stories that deal with lynching, like the WWI-era story “Two Americans” by Florence Lewis Bentley, which extols forgiveness, and the dark science fiction story “Lex Talionis” by Robert W. Bagnall, which explores the depths of hate and revenge. The energy of Hurston’s dialogue, written in early 20th-century Southern black dialect, is well matched by the illustrations by Arie Monroe and Milton Knight. A few pieces feel like filler, but overall the art in the anthology casts light on some gems of American literature, matching their gleam with sparkle of their own. (Jan.)