Josephine Baker Graphic Novel

JB3Josephine Baker, 19 years young and ready for the world. However being black and poor in America is to undesired by society. Building up a body of work with her local theatre trope and family friends. Taking on dancing and performance that mesmerised many with word spreading. She went to Paris to change her life and dance with the skill, gifted to her by some divine being. She rose to fame and took on the world. She met very famous faces and minds that took her on as one of them. Being the black entertainer that everyone knows today. Touring the world with her body that mixed beauty and flex, swing and rhythm. She was more and so much more however. After the war she wanted to return back to her home land and take on the racial segregation. She returned to America with a step and a stance. Civil rights were on her next step. She took on the establishment and made her mark on the world by singing and dancing…

JB1Catel Muller and Jose-Louis Bocquet have crafted a novel that is filled with detail and takes on the power of an icon. They have used the lovely black and white dreams of this graphic novel to define the woman that so often is a byword for the French intellectual movement. The blacks are delightful as they add depth and curves. The whites are harsh but give us the form of the nights Baker spent dancing and debating. Art in Graphic novels can be hard to complexly tell a narrative but also even harder to do so with such communication. It helps the translation of fun without losing the seriousness of the subjects.

JB2It also has a few notes that left me wondering if to much research and not enough natural story telling. The content is so dense that sometimes I found myself pulling away and having to come back after having a breath. It is not that the content makes you ponder or contemplate but it makes you feel the Life story becomes hard terrain. It trails off into realm that Baker herself would be dulled and want to be removed. Story telling is a natural art and historical details is essential but here it is a problem of heavy weights dragging down the whole.

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Simon Kennedy

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