A lack of thorough editing makes the strengths of this historical tale difficult to appreciate.



Micko’s debut novel addresses issues of racism in America by following a Southern family from the end of the Civil War to the early 20th century.

The narrator, Terry Lee Kincaid III, begins this complicated family saga by introducing readers to his paternal great-grandfather, Billy Ray, a member of the Ku Klux Klan who worked as a slave hunter before the Civil War. Billy Ray gets involved with a woman from an upper-class family, but their relationship falls apart because of his connections to the Klan. They have a son together, Terry Lee, but Billy Ray refuses to acknowledge him. Terry Lee grows up and starts a lucrative moonshine business with his best friend, an African-American man named Jim Spicer. Together, they scout out the land that becomes Kincaid, Georgia—a place where a white family and a black family can live peacefully alongside each other as equals. But the Klan disapproves of this, and they use their influence to have Jim and Terry Lee sent to jail. Their sons—Sonny Spicer and Terry Lee Jr.—are raised as brothers by Jim’s wife, Alberta. The two boys have a hard time staying out of trouble; they later end up in jail several times, and they eventually join the moonshine business. All sorts of danger and excitement ensue, leading to triumphs and tragedies that the young Terry Lee III describes with wide-eyed enthusiasm. The book does have its strong points: the characters live richly imagined, exciting, and unusual lives; the plot’s conflicts involving race are pertinent to social and political issues of today; and the folksy Southern style (“For all ya’ll who ain’t heard of Kincaid, I’ll tell you about it”) can be charming. But the story is also undermined by errors in punctuation and spelling (“verifyable”; “ultimatim”) from beginning to end, making the book seem more like a rough draft than a finished novel. As a result, many readers may lose patience with the book long before they reach its conclusion.

A lack of thorough editing makes the strengths of this historical tale difficult to appreciate.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5049-8654-0

Page Count: 346

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2017

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Chwast and Twain are a match made in heaven.


Design veteran Chwast delivers another streamlined, graphic adaptation of classic literature, this time Mark Twain’s caustic, inventive satire of feudal England.

Chwast (Tall City, Wide Country, 2013, etc.) has made hay anachronistically adapting classic texts, whether adding motorcycles to The Canterbury Tales (2011) or rocket ships to The Odyssey (2012), so Twain’s tale of a modern-day (well, 19th-century) engineer dominating medieval times via technology—besting Merlin with blasting powder—is a fastball down the center. (The source material already had knights riding bicycles!) In Chwast’s rendering, bespectacled hero Hank Morgan looks irresistible, plated in armor everywhere except from his bow tie to the top of his bowler hat, sword cocked behind head and pipe clenched in square jaw. Inexplicably sent to sixth-century England by a crowbar to the head, Morgan quickly ascends nothing less than the court of Camelot, initially by drawing on an uncanny knowledge of historical eclipses to present himself as a powerful magician. Knowing the exact date of a celestial event from more than a millennium ago is a stretch, but the charm of Chwast’s minimalistic adaption is that there are soon much better things to dwell on, such as the going views on the church, politics and society, expressed as a chart of literal back-stabbing and including a note that while the upper class may murder without consequence, it’s kill and be killed for commoners and slaves. Morgan uses his new station as “The Boss” to better the primitive populous via telegraph lines, newspapers and steamboats, but it’s the deplorably savage civility of the status quo that he can’t overcome, even with land mines, Gatling guns and an electric fence. The subject of class manipulation—and the power of passion over reason—is achingly relevant, and Chwast’s simple, expressive illustrations resonate with a childlike earnestness, while his brief, pointed annotations add a sly acerbity. His playful mixing of perspectives within single panels gives the work an aesthetic somewhere between medieval tapestry and Colorforms.

Chwast and Twain are a match made in heaven.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60819-961-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.



This black-and-white historical narrative, written and illustrated by Lutes, collects eight volumes of his ongoing comic book set in Berlin during the late ’20s. It’s a multilayered tale of love and politics at the beginning of the Nazi era, as Lutes follows the stories of three characters: a 20ish art student from the provinces, a textile worker, and a young Jewish radical. Their lives intersect in only the subtlest way—Lutes depicts them crossing paths at some great public events, such as the Mayday march that closes this part of his book. And Lutes plays with perspective in a visual sense as well, jumping from point-of-view frames to overhead angles, including one from a dirigible flying above in honor of the Kaiser. At street level, Lutes integrates his historical research smoothly, and cleverly evokes the sounds and smells of a city alive with public debate and private turmoil. The competing political factions include communists, socialists, democrats, nationalists, and fascists, and all of Lutes’s characters get swept up by events. Marthe, the beautiful art student, settles in with Kurt, the cynical and detached journalist; Gudrun, the factory worker, loses her job, and her nasty husband (to the Nazi party), then joins a communist cooperative with her young daughters; Schwartz, a teenager enamored with the memory of Rosa Luxembourg, balances his incipient politics with his religion at home and his passion for Houdini. The lesser figures seem fully realized as well, from the despotic art instructor to the reluctant street policeman. Cosmopolitan Berlin on the brink of disaster: Lutes captures the time and place with a historian’s precision and a cinematographer’s skill. His shifts from close-ups to fades work perfectly in his thin-line style, a crossbreed of dense-scene European comics and more simple comics styles on this side of the Atlantic.

An original project worth watching as it shapes up to something that may be quite magnificent.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-896597-29-7

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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