Peter Bagge's "Fire!!" is thoroughly researched and eminently readable. Weaving together the complex tapestry of Zora Neale Hurston's life (and featuring accurate-and-entertaining cameos by Langston Hughes and Alice Walker, among others), this graphic novel is both insightful and fun to read—a rare combination.Tami Navarro, Ph.D. Barnard Center for Research on Women, Columbia University
A bold retelling of the life of the Their Eyes Were Watching God author
Peter Bagge has defied the expectations of the comics industry by changing gears from his famous slacker hero Buddy Bradley to documenting the life and times of historical 20th century trailblazers. If Bagge had not already had a New York Times bestseller with his biography of Margaret Sanger, his newest biography, Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story, would seem to be an unfathomable pairing of author and subject. Yet through Bagge’s skilled cartooning, he turns what could be a rote biography into a bold and dazzling graphic novel, creating a story as brilliant as the life itself.
Hurston challenged the norms of what was expected of an African American woman in early 20th century society. The fifth of eight kids from a Baptist family in Alabama, Hurston’s writing prowess blossomed at Howard University, and then Barnard College, where she was the sole black student. She arrived in NYC at the height of the Harlem Renaissance and quickly found herself surrounded by peers such as Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman.
Hurston went on to become a noted folklorist and critically acclaimed novelist, including her most provocative work Their Eyes Were Watching God. Despite these landmark achievements, personal tragedies and shifting political winds in the midcentury rendered her almost forgotten by the end of her life. With admiration and respect, Bagge reconstructs her vivid life in resounding full-colour.
Praise for Fire!!
Zora Neale Hurston was always larger than life, colorful—the ideal subject for graphic work. Here comes Peter Bagge’s well-researched interpretation of her talent, persistence, contrariness, and just Zora-ness in Fire!!. Here’s Zora laughing, also looking mean and impressive.Missy Dehn Kubitschek, Professor of English and Africana Studies, IUPUI
From its cover image on, Bagge’s Fire!! presents Zora Neale Hurston’s story in a format worthy of its subject. Vibrant and humorous, this comic book is as an homage—“warts and all”—to a heroine who lived her life as an adventure fueled by intellectual curiosity, and creative desire.Glenda R. Carpio, Professor of English & African and African American Studies, Harvard