cover image King


Ho Che Anderson. Fantagraphics Books, $8.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-112-2

Comics artist Anderson has produced a grand, interpretive biography of Martin Luther King Jr. that seeks to probe the man, his accomplishments and America's racial dilemma. Powerfully cinematic, the work opens with a series of anonymous characters, the attestors, speaking of their personal attraction to, or disdain for, King. Then a short sequence focuses on four urban black communities, presenting a contemporary sampling of racial conflict and violence, before introducing King's childhood in Atlanta, Ga., in 1934. From there he plunges into King's life with a passion: graduate studies in liberal Boston; meeting Coretta; his collaboration with Ralph Abernathy; Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott; and the ever present physical danger. This first of a projected three-volume series ends with King's stabbing at a boycott in 1960. Anderson has produced a vividly complex portrait of a legendary American figure, detailing King's flaws--his woman-chasing and domineering personality--as well as his courage and moral vision. The stark black-and-white illustrations erupt from the page, perfectly capturing the visual force of a violent and heroic period in American history. (Dec.)