Favorite Purchase of the Day : NEGRO ROMANCE #1

 

Romance books as well as Comic Books in general really picked up steam in the post World War II years. The comics finding themselves picked up by everyone one from kids to teens to adults. GIs and their wives also making a regular audience for these comic books.

In the prosperous post World War II years America was riding high, and you can see it in everything from the cars to the boom in home ownership to the boom in the birth rate, to the boom in comic genres and publishers.

In an America where currently comics struggle to sell a 100000 issues, comics back then routinely sold upwards of half a million copies. The more popular titles in the millions.

Romance Titles were one of those lifted by the general explosion of comics. And mainstream comics, though another war had just been won, ostensibly for liberty and freedom, were still victim of an America cowtowing to Jim Crow restrictions. Books that had people of color,could not be sold in some southern states if those depictions were not jingoistic or demeaning.

Evenhanded or respectful depictions of people of color, would likely get your book banned from that particular retailer. It was an extension of the same restrictions movies dealt with, that led to the ‘race’ movies of pioneers such as Director/Producer Oscar Micheaux in the 1920s and the creation of Black Film Production companies, and more importantly a Black owned circuit of theaters.

However Comics, while more popular than today, were still a niche medium and attempts to break the Jim Crow mandated codes against people of color, while valiant and brilliant… were unfortunately short lived. Especially where legal protections against mob behaviour/lynchings were virtually non-existant.

So that the NEGRO ROMANCE comic  existed at all (much like the earlier ALL NEGRO COMICS) is down to the courage and talent of people who at the end of the day just wanted to tell good stories, without the Minstrel Show trappings of the time. That the book lasted two issues before being literally white-washed, removing characters of color and renaming it, is unfortunate.

But at least we had those two issues. And Thanks to Karl A. Therrian, after 70 years of being  lost from the light of day, these issues, along with ALL NEGRO COMICS are currently available.

I could not be happier to own these reissues, in FANTASTIC condition of these extremely rare comics. Get them while they last.

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https://amzn.to/2M5427P

I will cover the book in more detail in an upcoming post.

However, I would strongly suggest not sleeping on these books. Yes, you can buy them from various people, but it is apparent the love and care that Karl A. Therrian puts into his reissues that sets them above the competition.

Buy it while available.

The Answer to FERGUSON

The answer to Feguson’s latest headline making descent into a Jim Crow south is the same as it was to that first headline. The answer is not simply protesting or marching or, worse, just taking to the streets as a mob.

No, the answer has to be something… better.

The answer is economics married to a good memory of the people in positions of authority in Ferguson, who have abused that authority. Ferguson is an overwhelmingly Black township. So this population speaking with their wallets and purses, boycotting any business that does not sign a petition calling for an immediate censure and removal of those involved (from officer, commanding officer, prosecuting attorney, presiding judge, mayor, and up) will elicit change that no amount of lipservice or tirades will.

And it’s about that population stepping up and once they have defined an economic base, forging a political base. The young people have to be the law enforcement, and the fire fighters, and the lawyers, and the politicians, because someone must hold the line, and if you would not have it be your enemy then you must fill those positions with yourself and your peers.

If you want to change the person always on one end of the gun, you must change the person… on the other.

Reprisals of a financial and political order.

Where Ferguson does your local Walmart, or McDonalds, or KFC, or mass transit or auto-shop or grocery… stand on this latest injustice? Find out, and boycott the ones not with you, and let the rest of America know and boycott with you.

Let them know… this far, no further.

Here beginneth the lesson.

THE MAN OF BRONZE

The statue caught my eye.

The man of bronze looked at me, and I heard

on the wind

something singular

that spoke with voices legion.

Voices that had given

much;

their last,

best measure…

“Don’t fall backwards.”

The voice of the few

and the many

implored

“Don’t fall backwards.

Don’t give ground.

Go forward.

More to do.

Much, much, more.”

Much later I would try to convince myself that the man of bronze could not have spoken, the children of bronze could not have watched me with eyes the color of bombed churches and torched buses.

Much later I would try to find security in rational lies. I would try to un-hear what I heard.

But in the midnight hour

Always in the midnight hour

like an old, tired song

I hear them clearly.

With the voice of men

who go down to the sea in ships

and war heroes

swinging from southern trees

they cry

“More, more, more!”

—words and photos copyright 2012 HT

Today’s Recommended Short Story: THE GHOST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING by Hal Bennett

There is no one who has ever written quite like Hal Bennett, His stories live somewhere that is beyond our suffering, and beyond our joy, beyond our hopes, and beyond our despairs. His are alien deep space tableaus, as strange as any fiction of Bradbury’s outer space, but rooted in the far more alien landscapes of a Jim Crow tinged America. There’s a bitter truth in his tales, married to a wicked, merciless humor. His is the landscape of an irony and lynch-filled America. Where sense is a strange and undiscovered country, and insanity the norm, for those who live and die by insane designations.

Insanity Runs in our Family. These stories are a wry and disarmingly written indictment of the Insanity of a post Jim Crow America, and things we lost in the fire, but more than that, they are about our missives and our misgivings, and living in a wronged world… that resists being righted.

I continue to dip my toe into these stories of the downtrodden and disenfranchised, and yet somehow remarkable, and more than a bit magical. And I continue to be… both horrified and charmed.

THE GHOST OF MARTIN LUTHER KING is one of those stories, wherein Hal Bennett takes us on a spiderwalk above still restless and unsettled ground. B+.

Insanity runs in our Family– Price your copy here!

Review: INCOGNEGRO A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson & Warren Pleece

Those of you who’ve followed this blog over the years know I’m seldom at a loss for words.

I came close with this review of INCOGNEGRO.

INCOGNEGRO… wow. Anything I say about it will either be too little or too much. You should go into the book knowing very little (my thought on most things you seek to dazzle you) and you’ll get a lot out of it. All you need to know is it’s basically a murder mystery set in Jim Crow America. A 138pg 2008 Graphic novel, I don’t quite know how it avoided my radar, but this tale of an America of nearly a 100 years ago is RIVETING! I read it in one sitting, and went from unsure of it, to offended, to horrified, to chuckling and back again all in a space of pages.

Just am amazing mixture of pacing, scripting, dialog by Matt Johnson and expressive, pitch perfect visuals by Warren Pleece, that initially strikes me as too cartoony but ultimately works, creates a work that cannot easily be dismissed, forgotten, or put aside. I picked up the book for free at the library, but I am buying the hardcover, because it is one of those books (and this is the reason digital will never truly replace books for bibliophiles) that you want to have on your shelf, and own, and thumb through, and occasionally reread. It’s book as comfort as much as content, as talisman as much as text.

Matt Johnson writes as if the ghosts of Hal Bennett runs through him, combining that writer’s unequaled ability to pummel you with horror, then wring from you in the next breath, a sound not unlike laughter. And that ending is FANTASTIC!

Essential reading. A-.

My review is for the Hardcover. Use the link below to order your copy today. My Comic Shop is a site I personally use and recommend, and any purchases you do through my links brings me a few pennies which helps keep the blog running. So get yourself a great book and help the site, in one stroke. What could be easier. :).

Check status or purchase INCOGNEGRO here

“I grew up a Black boy who looked White. This was in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, during the height of the Black Power era, so I stood out a bit. My mom even got me a dashiki so I could fit in with the other kids, but the contrast between the colorful African garb and my nearly blond, straight brown hair just made things worse. Along with my cousin (half Black/half Jewish) I started fantasizing about living in another time, another situation, where my ethnic appearance would be an asset instead of a burden. We would “go Incognegro” we told ourselves as we ran around, pretending to be race spies in the war against White supremacy.”
— Matt Johnson, his forward to his book INCOGNEGRO

“That’s one thing that most of us know that most white folks don’t. That race doesn’t really exist. Culture? Ethnicity? Sure. Class too. But Race is just a bunch of rules meant to keep us on the bottom. Race is a strategy. The rest is just people acting. Playing roles.”
— INCOGNEGRO, Part I