Publisher: Fantagraphic Books
Written by: Ho Che Anderson
Illustrated by: Ho Che Anderson
Review by: Matt Peters
Sequential art is usually relegated to tales of men doing amazing deeds while saving the day. Most beloved comic book characters have personal issues that frequently interfere with their crime fighting schedules. On the other side of the spectrum, comics are used to teach lessons, enhance understanding of important topics, or make noise simply for the joy of making noise. King by Ho Che Anderson falls into each of these categories and fits perfectly.
As with most tellings of the life story of Martin Luther King, Jr., this one highlights the amazing accomplishments of King’s career and his impact on society. Ho Che Anderson uses a different approach and focuses on details that are normally left out of textbooks. Taking quotes from people who met King, journeyed with him, and experienced his teachings and shortcomings firsthand, the book gives readers an honest and refreshing take on the man that became a legend.
The art in King is a sight to behold as Anderson uses a combination of line art and photography. The majority is in black & white, but color is used occasionally to make a point, especially later in the story. The initial release came over ten years and three volumes, so readers can see the progression of Anderson’s skill in one place. For instance, the first volume’s art ranges from highly detailed to extremely chaotic, sometimes on the same page. This can cause some confusion as to which character is speaking, and makes it a little difficult to follow the narrative at times.
The book itself is beautifully bound and packed with extras, including sketches, pages not included in the initial publication and a stand-alone, modern day tale called “Black Dogs.” While some will undoubtedly walk away with the impression that this take on King’s life somehow lessens his impact on society, others will hopefully find that the humanistic aspect enhances the appreciation of his determination to make a change.
For more info, www.fantagraphics.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the book courtesy of the publisher for review purposes.