King, vol. 1

In his introduction to this first volume, Ho Che Anderson emphasizes biography as an interpretation of the facts he had gathered, and as a kind of meditation of the man behind the legacy. He wonders about how to uncover the man beneath all of the legend and idolization. He asks, quite rightly, how far we as a nation and as a people have come in the pursuit of Civil Rights since the turbulent 60s. At the center of his questioning turns the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., in all its glory and flawed moments, and he deftly creates a portrait of a complex man. This volume follows the beginning of his life, from childhood in the South through his courting of Coretta Scott to the infamous stabbing in Atlanta, 1960. The artwork is a mix of harsh black and white images, almost like snapshots taken with an intense flash, carefully placed instances of color, and images and photographs taken during the events portrayed. The mix of visual medium complements the stark nature of the writing — in cracking open MLK’s life, Mr. Anderson is attempting to uncover the power and the reality of the man through a string of events, from public speeches to personal moments, as they happened and as they are remembered. I was personally reminded anew what a powerful speaker Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and how vital that talent is in persuasion and personality for leaders. Happily, the second volume was just recently published in 2002 and the third is due out this coming May. An ambitious work, certainly, and told with a storyteller’s flair to make history live.

King, vol. 1
ISBN: 1560971126
by Ho Che Anderson
Fantagraphic Books 1993

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