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Celebrate Black History Through Graphic Novels

February is Black History Month, and the world of graphic novels is filled ways to celebrate and learn about the rich culture of Black History in America. The titles listed below are the top choices for anyone interested in Black History represented through the graphic novel form. * Bold denotes Diamond publisher.

 

Black History in its Own Words
Image Comics

9781534301535 | $16.99
Hardcover - 88 pages - Ages: 16+
Release Date: 02/14/2017

A look at Black History framed by those who made it. Black History in its Own Words presents quotes of dozens of black luminaries with portraits & illustrations by Ronald Wimberly. Featuring the memorable words and depictions of Angela Davis, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Kanye West, Zadie Smith, Ice Cube, Dave Chappelle, James Baldwin, Spike Lee and more.

Graphic Classics Volume 22: African-American Classics
Eureka Productions

9780982563045 | $17.95
Softcover - 144 pages - Ages 13+ 
Release Date: 01/03/2012 

African-American Classics presents 23 stories and poems from America's earliest Black authors, illustrated by contemporary African-American artists. Featured are stories by W.E.B. Du Bois, Jean Toomer, Charles W. Chesnutt and Zora Neale Hurston. Plus poems by Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar and other great writers.

March, Trilogy
Top Shelf Productions

9781603093958 | $49.99
Softcover - 560 pages - 
Ages 11+
Release Date: 09/06/2016

Winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis.March is the award-winning, #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell. This commemorative set contains all three volumes of March in a beautiful slipcase.

The Harlem Hellfighters
Broadway Books

9780307464972 | $16.65
Softcover - 257 pages - Ages 12+ 
Release Date: 04/01/2014 

In 1919, the 369th infantry regiment marched home triumphantly from World War I. They had spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and winning countless decorations. Though they returned as heroes, this African American unit faced tremendous discrimination, even from their own government. The Harlem Hellfighters, as the Germans called them, fought courageously on—and off—the battlefield to make Europe, and America, safe for democracy.  

In The Harlem Hellfighters, bestselling author Max Brooks and acclaimed illustrator Caanan White bring this history to life. From the enlistment lines in Harlem to the training camp at Spartanburg, South Carolina, to the trenches in France, they tell the heroic story of the 369th in an action-packed and powerful tale of honor and heart.

Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel
Crown Publishing Group

9781400048595 | $22.95
Hardcover - 137 pages - Ages: 18+
Release Date: 02/22/2005

This scathingly hilarious political satire--produced from a collaboration of three of our funniest humorists--answers the burning question: Would anyone care if East St. Louis seceded from the Union?

East St. Louis, Illinois ("the inner city without an outer city"), is an impoverished town, so poor that Fred Fredericks, its idealistic mayor, starts off Election Day by collecting the city's trash in his own minivan. But the mayor believes in the power of democracy and rallies his fellow citizens to the polls for the presidential election, only to find hundreds of them turned away for trumped-up reasons. Even sweet old Miss Jackson--not to mention the mayor himself--is denied the vote because her name turns up on a bogus list of felons. The national election hinges on Illinois's electoral votes and, as a result of the mass disenfranchisement of East St. Louis, a radical right-wing junta led by a dim-witted Texas governor seizes the Oval Office.

Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

9780809095049 | $16.65
Hardcover - 112 pages - Ages: 15+
Release Date: 11/14/2006 

Assassinated at age forty in 1965. Malcolm X battled the horrifying legacy of African American slavery throughout his short life. Malcolm's passage from troubled boy to influential, outspoken man and finally to tragic hero is captured in the drawings of the award-winning graphic artist Randy DuBurke, and the heartrending history of the era is distilled to its essence by Andrew Helfer, editor of two Eisner Award-winning books. This is American history as you've never seen it before.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty
Lee & Low Books

9781584302674 | $16.95
Softcover - 96 pages - Ages: 12+
Release Date: 07/31/2010

In August of 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer — nicknamed for his love of sweets — fired a gun at a group of rival gangmembers, accidentally killing a neighborhood girl, Shavon Dean. Police searched Chicago’s southside for three days before finding Yummy dead in a railway tunnel, killed by members of the drug gang he’d sought to impress. The story made such an impact that Yummy appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, drawing national attention to the problems of inner city youth in America.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty relives the confusion of these traumatic days from the point of view of Roger, a neighborhood boy who struggles to understand the senseless violence swirling through the streets around him. Awakened by the tragedy, Roger seeks out answers to difficult questions — was Yummy a killer or a victim? Was he responsible for his actions or are others to blame? 

Strange Fruit: the Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History
Fulcrum Publishing

9781938486296, $23.95
Softcover - 172 pages - Ages: 12+
Release Date: 05/01/2014 

Strange Fruit, Volume I is a collection of stories from African American history that exemplifies success in the face of great adversity. This unique graphic anthology offers historical and cultural commentary on nine uncelebrated heroes whose stories are not often found in history books. Among the stories included are: Henry "Box" Brown, who escaped from slavery by mailing himself to Philadelphia; Alexander Crummel and the Noyes Academy, the first integrated school in America, established in the 1830s; Marshall "Major" Taylor, a.k.a. the Black Cyclone, the first black champion in any sport; and Bass Reeves, the most successful lawman in the Old West. Written and illustrated by Joel Christian Gill, the diverse art beautifully captures the spirit of each remarkable individual and opens a window into an important part of American history.

Incognegro
Vertigo

9781401210977 $25.56
Hardocver - 136 pages -  Ages: 16+
Release Date: 06/02/2009 

Writer Mat Johnson (HELLBLAZER: PAPA MIDNITE), winner of the prestigious Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction, constructs a fearless graphic novel that is both a page-turning mystery and a disturbing exploration of race and self-image in America, masterfully illustrated with rich period detail by Wareen Pleece (THE INVISIBLES, HELLBLAZER).

In the early 20th Century, when lynchings were commonplace throughout the American South, a few courageous reporters from the North risked their lives to expose these atrocities. They were African-American men who, due to their light skin color, could "pass" among the white folks. They called this dangerous assignment going "incognegro."

Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald barely escapes with his life after his latest "incognegro" story goes bad. But when he returns to the sanctuary of Harlem, he's sent to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi.

With a lynch mob already swarming, Zane must stay "incognegro" long enough to uncover the truth behind the murder in order to save his brother -- and himself. He finds that the answers are buried beneath layers of shifting identities, forbidden passions and secrets that run far deeper than skin color.

Nat Turner
Harry N. Abrams

9780810972278, $18.85
Softcover - 216 pages - Ages:
Release Date: 06/01/2008 

The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion—which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia—is known among school children and adults. To some he is a hero, a symbol of Black resistance and a precursor to the civil rights movement; to others he is monster—a murderer whose name is never uttered.


In Nat Turner, acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker depicts the evils of slavery in this moving and historically accurate story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. Told nearly wordlessly, every image resonates with the reader as the brutal story unfolds.

This graphic novel collects all four issues of Kyle Baker’s critically acclaimed miniseries together for the first time in hardcover and paperback. The book also includes a new afterword by Baker.

Nelson Mandela: The Unconquerable Soul
Steerforth Press

9789380741161, $12.99
Softcover - 120 pages - Ages: 10+
Release Date: 01/17/2012 

Nelson Mandela had very simple dreams as a young man growing up in a small South African village; he dreamed of being free to choose his own path in life. But being a black man in South Africa, even the simple dream of freedom could never become a reality.

South Africa was a nation ruled by an oppressive and discriminatory set of laws known as apartheid. Black men and women could not have certain jobs or live in certain neighborhoods, or even walk down the street without being arrested or assaulted by the brutal police force. South Africans desperately needed their freedom and Nelson Mandela answered the call. He took the lead in the fight for the equality of all races, and the government of South Africa responded to his pleas for justice by trying to crush him.

Nelson Mandela was stripped of his rights, and sent to the harshest prison in all of South Africa to die. But his spirit could not be broken. From his tiny prison cell, Mandela managed to rally the entire world. During this fight for justice, he taught even his oppressors the value of tolerance and compassion. He brought freedom to an entire nation and set a shining example to the rest of the world.

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente
Fantagraphics

9781560978923. $22.99
Softcover - 200 pages - Ages:  
Release Date: 

The Puerto Rican slugger overcame family poverty, racial prejudice, and the language barrier to be voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player for 1966. Puerto Rican-born Santiago (In My Darkest Hour) superbly captures the kinetic excitement of baseball as well as Clemente’s skill and warm humanity on and off the diamond. 

Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black
New Paradigm Studios

9781939516060, $29.99
Softcover - 144 pages - 16+
Release Date: 05/01/2016 

Collecting the entire first arc of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson re-envisioning as African Americans living in New York City's famous Harlem district. Watson, an Afghanistan war vet, works in an inner-city clinic; Holmes, a local P.I. who takes unusual cases. When one of them ends up in Watson's emergency room, the unlikely duo strike up a partnership to find a missing girl. Watson & Holmes bump heads along the way as they enter a labyrinth of drugs, guns, gangs and a conspiracy that goes higher and deeper than they could have imagined. Containing epilogue issue #5 as well as chock full of extra material on the evolution of a new classic.