alexctelander's review

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4.0

Graphic Classics is known for publishing some truly great graphic novels, adapting and collecting graphic tales of works from such renowned authors as Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, Mark Twain, H. G. Wells and H. P. Lovecraft to name a number of them . . . notice a certain characteristic in common with all these white men? In their latest volume, number twenty-two, they have published one of their most important yet: African-American classics.

This illuminating collection features original works from Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, James Weldon Johnson, and many more; adapted by various writers, and a number of different artists, bringing each individual tale to life and prominence. What makes this collection even more enjoyable is that it is comprised of not just short stories, but also lots of poetry, breaking up the feel of back to back stories with entertainingly illustrated poetry as interpreted by the artist.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of African-American Classics is that it features in most cases an all-black cast of characters, which I can say I haven’t seen before in any other graphic novel I’ve read. Seeing black characters at all in graphic novels can be rare, but hopefully this collection will help to change this sad lacking in today’s comic books.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

For more reviews and exclusive interviews, go to BookBanter.

nikki_in_niagara's review

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4.0

Reason for Reading: I absolutely love this series of books and read each new one that comes out. I hope to get around to reading more of their backlist this year.

Usually when I read one of these collections of themed books I am familiar with a majority of the works but this time everything was new for me. I do read Black authors but they are contemporary ones such as Toni Morrison, making this an introduction for me to these early Black authors. I should say I was familiar with one writer and that is the poet Langston Hughes. This book does contain more than the norm, for this series, of poetry which I thought would bug me (not a poetry person) but I rather enjoyed the poems especially "Danse Africaine" (which was new to me) by Langston Hughes.

Grouping together a collection of stories based on author's race rather than a literary theme makes for a wide selection of genres to be represented (though I would say they all expressed the Black experience) and as such a few were not exactly my thing, but I enjoyed the majority of them and found several of them to be excellent. My favourite story was"Lex Talionis" by Robert W. Bagnall, a creepy tale of revenge. I also enjoyed "Two Americans" by Florence Lewis Bentley, "The Goophered Grapevine" by Charles W. Chestnutt. I found "Sanctum 777 N.S.D.C.O.U. Meets Cleopatra" by Leila Amos Pendleton to be a joy and was deeply touched with "Becky" by Jean Toomer.

The illustrations throughout the book are fantastic, presenting a wide range of styles and making for a visually stunning book. But then isn't every book in this series! It should be noted that the illustrators for this book are themselves all contemporary Black artists. A great book to treat yourself for Black History Month, or well, just anytime! I certainly appreciate the introduction to authors I've never read before.

kienie's review

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3.0

The Reward: Beautiful.
Two Americans: OK art, but a good, touching story.
On Being Crazy: Nice art, and made me want to read the whole story.
The Negro: Like the poem and like the art, but they don't quite go together.
Danse Africaine: Gorgeous.
A Carnival Jangle: I don't like the art, and I feel like too many parts of the story were cut out.
The Castaways: Love it, but could've worked better as several panels.
America: Great poem and great art.
Lawing and Jawing: Very nice art, but I don't like the story, partially because I feel that I don't get it. Is it some sort of satire?
Lex Talionis: Messed up. but in the best way. Good at building and keeping the tension.
Becky: Sad. The art is OK.
In the Matter of Two Men: Great art. I like how it tells the story.
Sympathy: I wish they had made it into an actual comic.
We Wear the Mask: Good.
Buyers of Dreams: Too preachy for my tastes.
The Bronze Legacy: Both art and poem are excellent.
The Goophered Grapevine: Excellent fun story with decent art.
Sanctum 777 NSDCOU Meets Cleopatra: I don't really get the whole setup, so I feel like I'm missing out the cultural significance of the story.
De Cunjah Man: Hate the art, but the rest is fun.
Filling Station: A slice of life story. Very dynamic art.
The Ghost of Deacon Brown: Good art.
Aunt Chloe's Politics: Boring art.
Shalmanezer: I love the art.

Overall I lied the art, but many of the stories felt a bit gutted, and often the art didn't really complement the story as it should.

alexctelander's review against another edition

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4.0

Graphic Classics is known for publishing some truly great graphic novels, adapting and collecting graphic tales of works from such renowned authors as Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, Mark Twain, H. G. Wells and H. P. Lovecraft to name a number of them . . . notice a certain characteristic in common with all these white men? In their latest volume, number twenty-two, they have published one of their most important yet: African-American classics.

This illuminating collection features original works from Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, James Weldon Johnson, and many more; adapted by various writers, and a number of different artists, bringing each individual tale to life and prominence. What makes this collection even more enjoyable is that it is comprised of not just short stories, but also lots of poetry, breaking up the feel of back to back stories with entertainingly illustrated poetry as interpreted by the artist.

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of African-American Classics is that it features in most cases an all-black cast of characters, which I can say I haven’t seen before in any other graphic novel I’ve read. Seeing black characters at all in graphic novels can be rare, but hopefully this collection will help to change this sad lacking in today’s comic books.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

For more reviews and exclusive interviews, go to BookBanter.
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