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 smart, sweet graphic memoir. Schrag’s work should resonate with anyone—female or male, gay or straight—who has survived...

POTENTIAL

THE HIGH SCHOOL COMIC CHRONICLES OF ARIEL SCHRAG

Schrag (Awkward and Definition, 2008, etc.) explores her junior year of high school, a period of self-discovery amid social minefields, all the more complicated for a gay student.

The second volume of the “High School Comic Chronicles” finds the author dealing with all sorts of personal challenges, both at home and at school. Her constantly bickering parents appear headed for divorce; she feels the pressure to realize her potential as a student; she confronts countless questions regarding her sexuality: Does bisexuality exist, or is it a cop-out? Is it necessary to have sex with a boy to lose one’s virginity? What does it mean when your girlfriend doesn’t desire you as much as you desire her? Since the author wrote the book during the summer following her junior year, Schrag’s fellow students were aware that she was chronicling their life as a graphic narrative. As such, the book becomes a kind of meta-comic, in which there are plenty of comments about what is and is not included. As the title suggests, identities are fluid rather than fixed, and the characters are in a state of becoming rather than being. Though Schrag’s classmates at California’s Berkeley High School may have been a little hipper than many throughout the country, most were equally clueless when it comes to figuring out who they really are and what they really want. There is plenty of sex here, somehow as innocent as it is explicit. This should be a breakout year for Schrag, with both a film based on this book and a third graphic volume documenting her senior year (Likewise) due within months.

A smart, sweet graphic memoir. Schrag’s work should resonate with anyone—female or male, gay or straight—who has survived high school.

Pub Date: May 6, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5235-2

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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Humanity stunningly observed—a treasure.

THE MAN WITHOUT TALENT

This first English-language edition of a work by influential Japanese comic-book artist Tsuge follows an impoverished, embittered comic-book artist whose unconventional search for riches keeps him in league with schemers at the fringes of society—much to his wife’s angst and young son’s distress.

Whether it’s selling stones he finds near his home, repairing and reselling cameras bought from a junk store, or even carrying people on his back across a shallow river, Sukezō Sukegawa will do just about anything for money—except create the comic books for which he has received critical acclaim. He pridefully resents the lack of money in comic books, though he fails to sell any stones either. Sukezō’s pursuits introduce him to shady characters, such as the alcoholic head of an “art stone” association and the man’s libidinous wife, and to outsiders such as a homeless man whose uncanny connection to birds allows him to effortlessly gather exquisite specimens for sale. Though Sukezō’s wife resents his inability to make money—and the costs associated with his offbeat vocations—Suzekō provides for the family in his own, unbalanced way, as when he combines a stone-hunting trip to the countryside with a hiking trip for wife and son. The trip is a disaster: Sukezō’s asthmatic son melts down over the train schedule, fecal matter likely slips into the family’s noodles, and the three of them lie by a river and wryly contemplate suicide. Tsuge’s raw and profound work is equal parts pathos and poetry, streaked with irony and ribaldry. His lines are beautifully clean and wonderfully expressive, the pages sometimes presenting expertly cartoonish simplicity and other times almost photorealistic detail. Tsuge has a soft spot for outsiders yet is acutely aware of how they can end up dead in a field somewhere, covered in their own filth.

Humanity stunningly observed—a treasure.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68137-443-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: New York Review Comics

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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