cover image The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History

The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History

David F. Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson. Ten Speed, $19.99 trade paper (192p)

This nuanced, accessible history of the Black Panther Party doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the political movement, nor does it fall into the trap of painting the diverse group as uniformly heroes or villains. “The Black Panthers became mythical—and it can be difficult to separate myth from reality,” explains Walker (The Life of Frederick Douglass). He opens the narrative long before the Party’s official founding in Oakland in 1966, showing why Black civil rights activists eventually saw problems with nonviolent reform in the face of violence from white supremacist mobs and state officials alike. Bobby Seale’s famous speech from the steps of the California State Capitol building in 1967 resonate today: “Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, and demonstrated... to get the racist power structure of America to right [its] wrongs.” Other key Panther figures, such as Huey P. Newtown and Eldridge Cleaver are provided concise profiles. Artist Kwame Anderson balances text and images skillfully, and even the wordiest sections feel spacious, while he lends cinematic visual pacing to the many heated interactions between activists and police. “While the year is different, the times are the same,” Walker concludes in an afterword written in May 2020. “Writing this book broke my heart.” This concise yet in-depth guide offers a timely resource for activists, history buffs, and students alike. (Jan.)