The graphic novel biographies just keep on coming, and this one is unusual.
Peter Bagge, previously best-known for underground-style cartoon work, is telling stories of remarkable lives, and his new book focuses on novelist and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston.
Her story is certainly remarkable. Refusing to fall into line with early 20th century expectations of how an African American woman should behave, Hurston rebelled in a big way. One of eight children in a Baptist family in Alabama, she battled to escape low-paid jobs and get an education, becoming the only black student at Barnard College, and then a career as a writer among New York’s best.
But this book is mostly about Hurston as a character. Her determination and fierce nature are shown boldly, and racial issues, unsurprisingly, are to the fore. “White liberalism is another form of racism,” Hurston declares. “They presume I need their help to get ahead and that I ‘owe’ them in return.”
Bagge’s loose, cartoony style softens the blow a little, but there are some complicated issues and tough messages for people of all races here.