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I SEE THE PROMISED LAND by Arthur Flowers

I SEE THE PROMISED LAND

by Arthur Flowers ; illustrated by Manu Chitrakar

Age Range: 15 - 18

Pub Date: March 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55498-328-5
Publisher: Groundwood

A new edition of a 2010 graphic telling of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. via Patua scroll paintings.

In this rather disjointed patchwork of pictures and prose—the art by Bengali artist Chitrakar, and the text by poet Flowers—the main points of King’s life are depicted in the traditional Indian art. Flowers doesn’t shy away from any aspects of King's life, describing his accomplishments and foibles straightforwardly (“Boy got a weakness for the flesh”). Chitrakar's characters are often portrayed with one-color apparel (that often look like Nehru jackets) against monochromatic backdrops, negating any feel for the 1960s Southern setting. The accompanying text varies in size and typeface, wandering almost drunkenly over pages in a free-form style that makes for a complicated path. Consistent with Flowers’ blues-based approach, the actual prose doesn't adhere to grammatical conventions, easily mixing in contemporary slang like "oldschool" and "mack." King's actual words march across black double-page spreads in alarmingly huge white font (at times used for the author’s words as well). These components all combine for an effect that is distracting and disjointed. With many choices of works about King, there are certainly better selections to be made.

In the end, it feels more like experimental performance art than biography. (editorial notes) (Graphic biography. 15 & up)