Sunday, July 13, 2014


The project I’ve been working on since Fall last year is less than likely to see print. The history of CLR James, 20th century Trinidadian social activist, is not a subject I would have chosen myself. It was presented to me by an editor who said it had a publisher and that it was a “done deal”. It wasn’t, and once the months of (paid) labor were presented, the publisher passed on it. They have committed themselves to too many ‘graphic novel’ projects as it is. (I have my doubts about the legitimacy of the “graphic novel revolution’, but will go into that another time.)

Since the humor element of comics has been supplanted by strivings for Art and Education (‘humor’, ‘comics’, how’s that for irony?), I hoped that this book might break one or two glass ceilings for me, and also hoped that the book would serve a more noble purpose: to use a cartoon style to present images of blacks in new, constructive, even heroic roles. I wanted to make a book that would make kids’ eyes pop and would inspire wonder and interest to those of all ages, especially those who normally avoid the majority of stodgy graphic textbooks. A sort of ‘learning by accident’.

Since, as I said, the book is less than likely to see print, I feel less beholden to keep it a secret. Here’s a sequence summarizing CLR James’ play, TOUSSAINT L’OVERTURE, about the former slave who led his fellow Haitians to freedom. Paul Robeson created the leading role, and it is he who plays it here. (Note: Haiti was under French rule at the time, 1791, and renamed San Domingo. The blacks had been officially freed, but the conditions of life remained the same.)

Yrs, MK

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