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Monk!: Thelonious, Pannonica, and the Friendship Behind a Musical Revolution

Youssef Daoudi. First Second, $24.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62672-434-1

In this vibrant and fitting testament to a jazz genius, Daoudi (Mayday) details musician Thelonious Monk’s life in black, white, and gold drawings that stylishly navigate the highs and lows of the jazz era. Chronicling the latter part of Monk’s adult life, Daoudi showcases the time period, jazz’s great musicians, and the man himself in drawings that set each scene with engaging authenticity. Each expertly illustrated story panel captures the energy and eccentricity fueling Monk’s creativity. Daoudi shares Monk’s musical sensibilities and evolution, as well as the depth of his unconventional friendship with Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter, a Rothschild heiress and legendary jazz patron, in images drawn with an almost tangible vitality. From the outset, the part de Koenigswarter played in Monk’s life is front and center. This biography weaves her history, and her influence on the era, into Monk’s life story by using her thoughts as narrative guideposts. This exceptional memoir will leave readers feeling they’ve experienced a brilliant performance. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 11/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America

Box Brown. First Second, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-15408-8

This illuminating work by Brown (Is This Guy for Real?) examines the history of the outlawing of marijuana in the U.S. and finds the drug’s restriction is based on racism and falsehoods. Brown begins with the discovery of cannabis and discusses how it affects the body and perceptions, then launches into a long cultural history of cannabis in India and its importation to the Americas by the Spanish. The drug was brought into America by Mexican immigrants in the mid-19th century and later taken up in jazz culture. As lies spread that Mexicans and black people went crazy under the influence of marijuana, becoming violent and overly sexually aroused, presidents Nixon and Reagan cracked down on the drug. Brown’s black-and-white cartoons are simple rather than realistic, but known figures like Nixon are readily identifiable, and each character is distinguished from the next by variations in facial features. The lumpy-headed figures are reminiscent of early comic strips, with anger represented by lightning bolts about the head and cannabis-induced euphoria indicated with a mix of wavy lines and circles. Brown ends on a hopeful note for cannabis users, tracing the medical marijuana legalization movement. This useful work will inform anyone curious about cannabis’s history in America. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 11/09/2018 | Details & Permalink

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