The renewal of spirit through this striking collaboration reflects the way the Apollo has renewed itself through the decades.

SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO

THE EPIC TALE OF HARLEM’S LEGENDARY THEATER

This graphic treatment adds a new dimension to a music book that was already hailed as a classic.

Most graphic adaptations aim to reach new generations of readers with a work that is flashier but less substantial than the original. This collaboration between Fox (In the Groove: The People Behind the Music, 1986, etc.) and illustrator Smith represents a new experience for readers, one with an immediacy and vitality that text alone might never approach. Fox’s original was published to wide acclaim in 1983; that book illuminated the significance of the Apollo to musicians and to the Harlem community, detailing how it got to be where it was and celebrating the legacy that lives on. The current project gives Fox the opportunity to update the original and to show how, in the subsequent 35 years, the venue has expanded its offerings, hosting the likes of Chris Rock and Bruce Springsteen and a memorial service for James Brown. The narrative brings readers behind the scenes to the real show backstage and to the hotel rooms where the young reporter conducted his interviews. It also highlights the visual performing styles of some of the most galvanic artists in the history of popular music. Performers who were then unknown and were launched as winners of the Apollo’s Amateur Night competition include Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Luther Vandross, and Michael Jackson. Fox and Smith effectively present the progression of entertainment styles from swing and tap dance through bebop, gospel and blues, rhythm & blues, soul, and rock. They provide an entertaining, lively narrative with profiles that match the spirit, drawings that seem as musical as the music described within the text.

The renewal of spirit through this striking collaboration reflects the way the Apollo has renewed itself through the decades.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3138-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Abrams ComicArts

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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A debut that enriches and extends the potential of graphic narrative.

FLYING COUCH

A GRAPHIC MEMOIR

An ambitious debut by a graphic artist whose work succeeds on multiple levels, both visually and in terms of the textual narrative.

Toward the end of what is billed as a graphic memoir, Kurzweil (Writing and Comics/Parson School of Design) reflects, “the women in my family have certain stories to tell. Why does it feel like I’m not the protagonist of my own life?” And she isn’t of her own memoir, at least through one of the predominant strains intertwining in this narrative of the relationships among three generations of women in one family. The most dramatic is the one she relates of a time even before she and her mother were born: she shares her Jewish grandmother’s story, in her Bubbe’s words, of escaping from the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto, living among gentiles as an orphan, and then marrying a Jewish man and reclaiming her identity. The author’s story encompasses that of her grandmother and also the author’s mother, a psychotherapist from whom her frequently anxious daughter learned, “psychology is a container. It grows that which would go wild. It civilizes.” Thus her mother’s perspective and the typical mother-daughter tensions become integral to the author’s quest for identity. What kind of daughter is she? What kind of Jew? What kind of artist? The drawings are excellent, including maps that provide the psychological dimension of Kurzweil’s interior life, dreamscapes, and travels, including study abroad in Israel. She ultimately makes a life of her own in Brooklyn, as an artist, with a series of apartments, where “to order the objects of real life, the things I can feel and name, reminds me that my life is my own, and it has not, although it might seem otherwise, been pre-written.”

A debut that enriches and extends the potential of graphic narrative.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936787-28-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Black Balloon Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Timely and informative. Where was so clear an explication during the health-care brouhaha on Capitol Hill?

HEALTH CARE REFORM

WHAT IT IS, WHY IT'S NECESSARY, HOW IT WORKS

A cartoon-driven examination of what’s wrong with the American way of health care—and why the legislative reform of 2010 was necessary.

“Every one of us knows that America’s health care system is a mess,” writes Gruber (Economics/MIT), who helped draw up the Massachusetts reforms for which Mitt Romney is now taking such a beating from the right. And for good reason: The hard right characterizes any kind of government management of health care as socialism, while others across the political spectrum believe that the unchecked profit motive assures that health care will remain expensive and differentially accessible. Gruber turns up some astonishing figures for which Schreiber’s accompanying illustrations carry an appropriate sense of alarm. For instance, in 1960 health care cost less than 3 percent of the federal budget, while the “largest single expenditure now is on health care,” likely to incur a deficit of $100 trillion—that’s trillion with a tee—in the near future. The author glosses over one obvious reason, namely the aging of the baby boom generation, while examining the big business that health care has become. By way of a pointed example, he considers what would happen to four very different people given the same medical emergency, namely a heart attack: Someone with decent benefits would be covered, while someone working on the fringe of the economy, as so many are these days, would pay most expenses out of pocket—and if he or she could actually get private coverage, it would be costly and incomplete. The Massachusetts plan, Gruber maintains, offers one cure, though the insurance industry has done all that it could to void the spirit if not the letter of the law. The omnibus health-care reform act that narrowly squeaked through Congress is a necessary start, but with more to do.

Timely and informative. Where was so clear an explication during the health-care brouhaha on Capitol Hill?

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8090-9462-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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