Archive for Graphic novels

Holiday Gift Bag: Princeless

Well, here we are again. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and we’re being told by advertisers and the media — and way too many people who should know better — that the very best post-Thanksgiving activity is getting up in the middle of the night to run around shopping malls like good credit-card-wielding psychotics, abusing exhausted retail clerks and breaking the bank on “doorbuster bargains” that aren’t actually very cheap. There is, thank goodness, a slowly growing backlash over the idea that we all have to go crazy for Black Friday — but on the other hand, there’s not really much to do after Thanksgiving, and it’s not like shopping is some sort of crime.

But you can shop better and smarter. You don’t have to deal with the gibbering lunatics at the department stores. There are lots of stores out there that don’t attract hordes of zombie shoppers — and one of them is your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Book Store, which tends to be much more sedate on Black Friday and which still has great gifts you can buy for the comics fan on your shopping list.

So let’s begin our annual review of some of the best comics gifts out there. Today, we’ll start with a comic series called Princeless.

PrincelessTPB

Careful readers should take note of the “L” right in the middle of the title — this is a story about a princess, but she’s certainly not defined any attempt to get herself a Prince Charming.

The story, written by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by M. Goodwin, focuses on Princess Adrienne, who has been imprisoned at the top of a tower by her cruel father. The similarities to any other stories you may have read end there — she thinks the idiots trying to rescue her are, well, idiots. She teams up with the dragon assigned to guard her. She rescues herself. And then she decides to go rescue her sisters, who have all been similarly imprisoned in towers by their tyrannical father.

And when she realizes she needs decent armor, she goes to a cool half-dwarf armorer (she got her mother’s height) named Bedelia — and then she teams up with Bedelia, too, so they can go on fightin’ evil and rescuing her sisters!

Do Adrienne, Bedelia, and the dragon Sparks have a chance to rescue everyone? Will her fairly awful father come after her? Will her poetry-loving brother be able to aid her? And will Adrienne finally find some armor that’s built for action and not for cheesecake?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is pretty dang fantastic, the art is pretty dang fantastic, the whole thing is pretty dang fantastic.

Characterization is a big thing in this book, because Adrienne is a wonderful character. She’s peeved at all the nonsense around her — her father locking her in a tower, a bunch of idiots trying to rescue her and then getting eaten by a dragon, sexist guards who think they’re allowed to mack on every girl in the area. And she’s not just peeved — she also does something to deal with the things that peeve her. She’s no passive nobody — she gets up, she kicks ass, she learns how to kick more ass.

There’s a lot of great humor, too. This is designed to be an all-ages comic, and kids love a heroine who can crack jokes — and who can lose her dignity without losing her awesomeness.

If you’ve got a kid — or an adult, for that matter — who loves clever fantasy, they’ll love this. If they love kick-ass female heroes, they’ll love this. If they love kick-ass female heroes of color (because yeah, Adrienne’s dark skin isn’t a tan, and her straightened hair came out of a bottle — and it gets curly fast once the adventuring begins), then they’ll definitely love this.

You know what? You should go pick this one up.

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The Woods are Dark and Bloody

ThroughTheWoods

Through the Woods

There are so many different ways to create horror, especially in comics. If you’re Richard Corben, you go with surreality, cheesecake, and backwoods decadence. If you’re Bernie Wrightson, you go with lifelike detail and emotion. If you’re Mike Mignola, you go with thick lines and hints of antiquity. If you’re Junji Ito, you go with body horror, spirals, and fish.

If you’re Emily Carroll, you go with subtly complex simplicity, negative space, vivid colors, and fairy tales.

Many of y’all are already familiar with Emily Carroll, whose webcomics can be enjoyed on her website. She published a collection of stories just last year, only one of which — the masterful and near-legendary “His Face All Red” — is available on her website. The rest are gloriously new and wonderfully diabolical.

We get “Our Neighbor’s House,” in which three young girls are left alone in a winter storm — until they encounter a strange man with a broad-brimmed hat and a full-face smile. We get “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold,” a ghostly variant of the Bluebeard legend. We get “My Friend Janna,” in which two friends dabble in spiritualism and discover something spectral and predatory. And we get “The Nesting Place,” in which a girl visits her brother and discovers that his wife is hiding a gruesome secret underneath her skin.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Carroll does an amazing job of creating stories that seem both timeless and ancient, and utterly new and shocking. I think my favorite story in this one is the first — “Our Neighbor’s House” — because it never shows you anything horrific and lets your imagination do all the heavy lifting — which I still think is Carroll’s greatest strength.

But that doesn’t mean the others aren’t all fantastic, too. “My Friend Janna” brings us subtle terrors we’re not even sure if we can see clearly and definitely can’t possibly understand. Is Janna being haunted at all? What’s the significance of the pulse inside the ghost? And “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold” is more gruesome but also a slower burn. The song sung throughout helps a story already rooted in the past feel even older, like it’s something pulled up from antiquity.

“The Nesting Place” is the tale that seems to break most of the rules one expects from Carroll’s work — it’s much more modern, there’s more dialogue, less omniscient narration, and the horrors are downright gory. But I loved the hell out of this one, too. The surreal shapeshifting monster in this story has horribly human motivations, and that makes the story more powerful and more frightening.

You love horror, don’t you? You love beautiful artwork and splended little stories and fears both subtle and overt, both quiet and shrieking, both chilling and gore-caked? Go pick this one up.

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The Dark is Rising

ThenItWasDark

Then It Was Dark: A Paranormal Anthology

It’s Halloween week, and I ain’t done near enough reviews of scary stuff, so let’s remedy that now with a nice fat graphic novel/anthology of spooky stories.

This book, edited by Sarah Benkin, collects short stories from a wide variety of independent comic creators, all telling (supposedly? possibly?) true stories of brushes with the supernatural and paranormal. There are demons and ghosts that attack sleepers in the middle of the night; scientific experiments with seances that don’t go as expected; ghosts that help out at summer camps; reincarnated twins; ghost children playing tag; UFO sightings; floating, severed heads; historical hauntings; and much, much more. Some of the stories are entirely unexplained — just weird experiences that no one ever figured out what was happening. Some have actual scientific explanations — one tale about a haunted mansion in the 1920s ends with the revelation that the house’s furnace was in terrible condition and was belching carbon monoxide into every room of the home.

As I said, there are a ton of creators who contributed to this, including Molly Ostertag, Diana Nock, C.B. Webb, Dirk Manning, A.R. Lytle, Henry Gustavson, Sarah Dill, Sarah Winifred Searle, Jen Hickman, Karen Kuo, Cody Pickrodt, and many, many more. There are even a few non-traditional comics creators like Wesley Sun, a minister who writes (with Simone Angelini illustrating) about performing an exorcism on a friend in college and his fears that his inexperience may have left her permanently possessed by a demon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s a lot of spooky stuff in here, in a ton of different artistic and storytelling styles.

There are a lot of these tales that are clear night terrors — essentially waking up while your brain is in REM mode, so you’re paralyzed, not breathing great, and basically having waking nightmares that feel incredibly real. I had these for several years and only broke the cycle by never sleeping on my back. So the descriptions of these nighttime encounters with demons and ghosts sitting on your chest, keeping you from moving, and scaring the holy howling hell out of you were very familiar to me, and didn’t really scare me. I wanted to tell the creators to sleep on their sides and they’d feel better. A lot of the other stories were about things that I suspected were just extremely vivid dreams.

But you know, the fact that I could find rational explanations for them doesn’t mean they aren’t still nicely eerie tales, especially told in the volume we get here. You get four or five stories in a row about nightmares and night terrors, all illustrated with astonishing creepiness, and you’ll still find yourself flipping a few extra lights on at night.

And there are quite a few stories that didn’t seem like bad dreams and didn’t come with easy explanations. Tales with multiple witnesses are harder to dismiss, of course. And some of the stories are just fantastically weird. There’s a very short story by Lauren Ashizawa about a man forced to use a rural outhouse. He suddenly realizes the cat that’s been watching him through the slats of the walls is actually something way bigger than a cat. The tale doesn’t end with any sort of explanation — but it does feature the best gag in the entire book.

This is a very fun anthology, wonderfully creepy and perfect for the Halloween season. For now, it’s only available digitally, though I’ve got a physical copy because I backed the Kickstarter. But however you get it, make sure you go pick this one up.

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Deal Me In

NewDealTPB

The New Deal

If y’all read the “Green River Killer” graphic novel from a few years ago, you may be familiar with Jonathan Case’s artwork — and he’s still making cool graphic novels now.

His latest is “The New Deal,” set in New York City during the Great Depression, with most of the action taking place in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotel. Our main characters are Frank and Theresa. Frank is a bellhop who tries to keep his nose clean, but has a bit of a gambling problem — hence owing a lot of money to a shady rich SOB — and a slight case of sticky fingers — nothing big stolen yet, but he could get in serious trouble if anyone catches him. Theresa is an African-American maid who really should be working a better job than a hotel maid. She’s also an actress, playing one of the witches in Orson Welles’ so-called Voodoo Macbeth. She’s smart and fairly honest and tries to keep an eye on Frank to keep him from getting into trouble.

And with a bunch of new guests in the hotel and a lot of pressure on the staff to keep the guests happy, there are suddenly mysterious thefts happening left and right — and both Frank and Theresa are being implicated! Can they discover who the real thief is? Can they avoid being sent to prison? Can they avoid being killed? Can they, against all odds, actually come out ahead when this is all over?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great light-hearted little caper, with plenty of twists and turns, villains and heroes and antiheroes, plots, schemes, cops, robbers, gangsters — and a worthwhile happy ending.

The characters were fun, and I felt like the characterization and dialogue were pretty great, too. I really loved the historical setting, and I was pretty excited to learn that Welles’ Voodoo Macbeth was a real thing — lots of cool historical details helped make the setting come to life.

All this, plus Case’s great (mostly) black-and-white artwork, too! You should be able to find this or order this through your local comic shop — it’s pretty much brand new right now — but you can also get it online, too.

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Magical Happy Unicorn Time!

PhoebeAndHerUnicorn

Phoebe and her Unicorn and Unicorn on a Roll

Let’s be honest, sometimes, all we want is a simple story about a little girl and her special unicorn friend.

These graphic novels (really a collection of strips from a webcomic) by Dana Simpson focus on a little girl named Phoebe who befriends an actual for-reals unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. Phoebe wins Marigold’s trust by freeing her from a devastating trap — Marigold had caught a glimpse of her reflection in a lake and was transfixed by her own beauty, and Phoebe broke the spell when she accidentally pegged her in the head while skipping stones. Marigold granted Phoebe a wish, and Phoebe wished for her to be her best friend.

From there, they have many adventures — well, they have mostly fairly kid-centered adventures. They torment Dakota, the school’s alpha — and other than that, they mostly hang out together and chat. And they razz each other about the relative strengths and weaknesses of their species. Marigold is able to go out in public thanks to her magical Shield of Boringness that makes everyone disregard the fact that there’s a freakin’ unicorn walking around in public, which gives the two pals the opportunity for many more shenanigans.

UnicornOnARoll

Verdict: Thumbs up. You hear a lot of comparisons to Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” strip when people talk about Phoebe and her Unicorn, and while Watterson is unquestionably a better artist — no knock on Simpson, by the way — very few cartoonists will ever be as great as Watterson — the comparisons are pretty apt. The characters are pretty similar, though Phoebe is better behaved, and Marigold is 100% real. And the strong sense of play and fun and wonder is prevalent throughout the story.

The artwork is plenty of fun — very expressive in the way the best cartoons are. Characterization is also a great strength — Phoebe is smart and kind and a little lonely and a lot awkward and funny — and Marigold is graceful and egotistical and magical and patient and affectionate.

Why should you get these books instead of just reading them for free online? Well, first, it’s always nice to be able to support cartoonists. And more important for you, it’s easier to read this to your kids before bed in book form than it is on the tablet. Yes, your kids will love it — and if you’ve got kids who love smart heroines their own ages and hilarious magical unicorns? Well, this is going to become an incredibly prized possession.

Get it for your kids. Heck, get it for you — there’s plenty of stuff for grownups to laugh at, too. Just go pick it up.

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Murder Times Four

BodiesTPB

Bodies

We’ve got a keen little bit of high concept here, a single murder mystery spread out across four different time periods. The writer of the whole thing is Si Spencer, while the illustrators are — one per era — Dean Ormston, Phil Winslade, Meghan Hetrick, and Tula Lotay. I considered reading this issue by issue, but decided I’d enjoy it more in a single collected volume.

So we start out in London in 1890, where Jack the Ripper is scaring up headlines, and Inspector Edmond Hillinghead is a dedicated policeman hiding his homosexuality from his fellow officers. And things change drastically when the gruesomely mutilated body of a murdered man is discovered in an alley.

Then we skip forward to London in 1940, while the Germans are bombing the city during the Blitz. Inspector Charles Whiteman escaped from a Nazi concentration camp years ago and is now the crookedest cop in the city. And things change drastically when the exact same gruesomely mutilated body of a murdered man is discovered.

We move on the London in 2014, where Detective Sergeant Shahara Hasan is one of the top cops in the city, Muslim during riots instigated by racist hatemongers — but also fiercely patriotic and proud of her own Englishness. And then the exact same body turns up again.

Finally, we end up in London, 2050, after a high-tech “pulsewave” has destroyed the ability of most people to even think clearly. In the ruins of the city, a woman called Maplewood discovers the gruesomely mutilated body of a murdered man, and like the other detectives from across the decades, feels compelled to investigate.

So what’s the solution? Who’s the victim? Who’s the killer? How was the death replicated across time? Is there any way for these four sleuths to discover the truth? Will they be able to team up? Or will a time-spanning conspiracy destroy all of them — and all of us as well?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of stuff to love in this story. I’m not a fan of all of the art, but it’s a fantastic idea to have a different artist illustrate each era — it makes everything much easier to follow for a story that could’ve been incredibly confusing.

The mystery is, obviously, a huge draw — the sheer ridiculous impossibility of the crime is stunning and terribly difficult to resist. The desire to learn more about what’s going on is entirely overwhelming. And things really do get even better when more conspiracy and horror elements are stirred into the stew. Arcane symbols, ancient paintings, secret societies plotting against everyone, arc words repeated more and more frequently, the impossible made possible, and terror made flesh. And, of course, the end of the world. Is the fourfold murder a crime? A symbol? A warning? A culprit? Or is it a solution all on its own?

The book’s primary weakness — like too many long mystery stories — is the ending, which dives headlong into mind-trippy symbolism and British boosterism while failing to really explain much of anything. But the ride up to that point is solidly E-ticket all the way. Actually, I’ve gotten to where I mostly ignore the ending the book chose and invent my own that keeps me happier.

But however you feel about the ending, I think this comic was a grand amount of fun. Go pick it up.

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Real Life Doesn’t Work that Way

InRealLifeTPB

In Real Life

Anda is a perfectly normal teenager who’s just started playing an MMORPG called Coarsegold Online. She’s gotten a probationary membership in a all-girl players’ guild and is busy learning the ropes and leveling up in the game. She’s met a brash new friend online who calls herself Sarge, and the two of them enjoy going on raids together and collecting tons of XP. Sarge has a new scheme — paid raids, where the participants get paid in real money, to go out and attack players who are gold farmers from China, wipe them out, and collect their loot.

After she befriends a gold farmer named Raymond, she learns more about gold farming and conditions in China. Raymond is only 16, but he plays Coarsegold about 12 hours a day for money. Conditions are not particularly good there, but the money is good, and Raymond would rather earn money doing something he enjoys. But he’s sick, and there’s no such thing as sick leave for gold farmers. So Anda goes behind Sarge’s back to stay friends with Raymond and to try to improve things for him.

But at the same time, Anda’s parents don’t like her spending so much time gaming — especially when she’s getting Paypal money from boys from the paid raids. And getting paid for raids is also against the guild rules, so she may get her game account blocked. Plus Anda’s ideas about unionizing the gold farmers have gotten Raymond in trouble, and he may lose his job. Can Anda figure out a way to make things right for everyone?

Verdict: I think I’m going with a partial thumbs down. I mean, the book is competently written, the plot moves along well, the dialogue is fine, the characterization is really rather excellent — but I’ve got a problem with some of the places the story ends up going to.

See, the writer of this comic, Cory Doctorow, is a techno-utopian. He thinks technology will lead us to a new golden age for humanity. In some ways, he’s correct — the Arab Spring could never have happened without Twitter, and the Internet is something I consider a solid net-positive for the world. But the ‘Net also brings us clickbait and revenge porn and Stormfront and Breitbart and scams and lies galore, and while Twitter may be able to bring about good, it’s still just a tool, and it is often used to harrass and abuse women, awkward teens, and anyone who online bullies care to abuse.

In this story, online game chat in a fantasy MMORPG brings about unionization of gold farmers in China. That’s so unrealistic, it’s not even funny. It’s not just techno-utopian, it’s techno-pollyanna. In the real world, every one of the Chinese gold farmers would’ve been fired — if they were lucky. They could’ve ended up in prison. They could’ve ended up dead. China isn’t America, where a decent PR campaign and some online petitions will make megacorps adjust their behavior. Raymond’s friends accuse Anda of interfering where she doesn’t understand the culture — they’re right, and Doctorow is wrong.

Doctorow has written multiple books that feature characters who are gold farmers in MMORPGs — and who are able to use their online skills to effect real-world change. But those are set in science fiction novels at some point in the near-but-nebulous future. This is supposed to be a more realistic story, with real people playing a semi-realistic game in the modern world. Doctorow’s gold-farming optimism may have a place in a fantasy world, but here, it looks naive.

I’m also bugged by the fact that the story essentially works out to being about an Enlightened White Hero saving the Foreign Brown Hordes. The ending even has Raymond replacing his cookie-cutter gnomish game avatar with a tall, handsome, sophisticated avatar so he’ll look more like Anda’s character. It’s insulting — and embarrassing, too.

I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about illustrator Jen Wang‘s artwork, which is expressive and charismatic and humanizing and fun in every way. I think it’d be worth your time to look for more of her books.

If you’re interested in this one, you can go pick it up here.

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Warrior Princess

PrincessUgg

Princess Ugg, Volume 1

Princess Ulga hails from the backwater mountain kingdom of Grimmeria, and she’d be perfectly content to spend her time as she always has — fighting rampaging giants. But she’s made a promise to her mother to travel to the far-off kingdom of Atraesca to attend Princess School — she is to learn arts like diplomacy and anything else she can pick up to help her people in their daily lives.

But while Ulga is amazingly competent in matters of war, weapons, animal handling, acrobatics, and athletics, she definitely stands out from her more prim and proper classmates. And when she gets the A-list alpha-bitch Princess Julifer for a roommate, things don’t get much better. She has trouble doing all the princessy things she’s being taught, like caligraphy, fashion, tea parties, lute playing, and her rough and tumble manner makes her the laughing stock of the school as they cruelly nickname her “Princess Ugg.” She has some teachers on her side, and some teachers opposing her — and even her own people believe she’s betrayed them in their fight against the giants.

Can Ulga learn the arts of princessing? Can she gain the acceptance of her classmates? Can she handle the trials of Julifer and her obstinate pet unicorn? Will she get any education? Will she give up? And what’s her secret mission in Atraesca?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Ted Naifeh is best known for comics like “Gloomcookie” and “Courtney Crumrin,” and this comic has gotten a lot less attention than it really deserves. It’s a fun comic, and I think it’s worth reading.

It’s definitely in the “Empowered Princess” sub-genre of all-ages comics, and Ulga is definitely one of the more unusual girl-power heroines to make it into the comics — a genuine barbarian warrior trying — and mostly failing — to fit in with more traditional princesses. She’s the ultimate tomboy, up against the sneers and snubs of the ultimate junior-high cheerleading squad. If that ain’t a tale for the ages, I don’t know what is.

Believe it or not, even though I do consider this an all-ages book, there’s probably gotta be a slight warning for nudity. Ya don’t see anyone’s goodies, but there are multiple shower scenes — the first time to contrast the low-glamour edge of Ulga’s typical morning with the typical morning of a princess like Julifer — and later to contrast the princesses’ slimmer bodies with Ulga’s muscular one. One could argue it’s a matter of body-positivity — but I don’t think I’m comfortable with that — the princesses are thin, and Ulga is athletic, if not outright musclebound. The only people who are heavier than normal are teachers at the school, and they’re not really the focal characters. To make things a little shorter (too late!), parents, thar be veiled nudity ahoy, so if that ain’t what you want your kids reading, don’t get it for ’em.

Having said that — it’s a great story with great art, and I had a blast reading it. If you or your kids want to read a fun comic with a rough-around-the-edges heroine who kicks serious ass, you’re probably going to want to pick this one up.

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Kissing Bandette

Bandette-Vol2

Bandette, Volume 2: Stealers, Keepers!

It’s Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s long-awaited second collection of the daring and spectacularly French adventures of Bandette, the greatest thief in the world!

Bandette is still competing in a thievery contest with the courtly Monsieur, she’s still toying adorably with the heart of the hapless Daniel, and she’s targeting Absinthe and his deadly criminal organization FINIS for elimination. But while she still has her Urchins to assist her, and while Inspector B.D. Belgique of the Paris Police still pursues her (often just to see if she’ll help them take care of a more serious crime), Bandette has a new foe she must deal with: the deadly strangler Il Tredici!

There are old friends, new friends (like Pietro the Pig), unexpected allies, surprise returns, and more wit and derring-do than you can fit in the Louvre. There are also a number of backup stories about Bandette’s allies — and even one of her foes. Most of these are short comics, written by Tobin and illustrated by other cartoonists, but there’s also a prose story about how Bandette helps save one of the supporting characters in the main story.

Is there nothing Bandette cannot accomplish? Well, perhaps she cannot best Monsieur in their competition. Perhaps she cannot avoid the unlucky hands of Il Tredici. Perhaps she cannot avoid the vengeance of Absinthe. Perhaps she cannot save innocent lives from FINIS.

Ha ha! How droll! Of course Bandette can do all these things!

Verdict: Thumbs up. Like the first volume of this series, this is delightful, fun, charming, and an absolute joy to read. The stakes are higher, but the fun and the humor are still really strong — and there’s still nothing grander than watching Bandette pull off impossible and daring heists of wonderful things, all while keeping up a stream of hilarious and slightly demented patter.

Can’t say enough great things about both Tobin and Coover in this story. They both team up to create a beautifully French comic, with Tobin providing the gloriously Parisian plotlines and dialogue and Coover creating the romantic, exciting Paris that probably only exists in dreams.

You can also see Coover’s notes at the end of the comic about the people who inspired her depictions of all the major characters, which will probably send you reading back through the story to imagine what a “Bandette” movie would’ve looked like if they’d made it in the ’60s.

Don’t know what else to say. It’s an outstanding comic, great for kids or grownups, boys or girls. Go pick it up!

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Marching for Equality

March-Book2

March, Book Two

We’ve already reviewed Book One — check out the review over here.

I trust you know the general background of this one — it’s the autobiography of civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, told as a graphic novel. It’s cowritten by one of his staffers, a comics fan named Andrew Aydin, with art by Nate Powell.

This second chapter of the series gets us deeper into the weeds of the civil rights movement, just as it begins to get a lot more violent for the participants. They’re attacked at movie theaters, someone locks them in a diner, then fills it full of poison bug spray, their buses are run off the road and set on fire, they’re beaten by local thugs, the Klan, and the police, they’re attacked at churches, they’re thrown in jail.

But all of this is getting a lot of interest from the public all across the nation and the world. Some of the people who are also being attacked are members of the press, and members of President Kennedy’s staff. The violence of the segregated South was getting more and more attention and attracting more and more people who felt it was time for everyone to be equal. Thugs like Bull Connor were making things even worse for the status quo, upping the savagery of his attacks on innocent people until just about everyone in the country was disgusted.

The last quarter of the book focuses on the March on Washington — not just the videos you’ve seen on YouTube, but the behind-the-scenes negotiations that made it possible. One of the organizers was gay and was outed by Strom Thurmond in an attempt to discredit the march. Lewis’s speech had to go through extensive rewrites to keep it from sounding like an outright call for revolution. It’s a triumphant note — but the struggle was far from over. Less than a month after the march, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed, killing four little girls.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This book is going to make you unbelievably furious. It has good reason to do so, and we should all be furious about the massive injustices of this period in our national history. Yes, the March on Washington is genuinely inspiring, but most of the book is a recounting of injustice after injustice after injustice, and anyone who doesn’t get mad about that just isn’t paying attention. And people who want us to forget this should be ashamed of themselves.

There’s another reason I get angry when I read this book. You already know there are a lot of people who want to restrict voting rights and invent barriers to keep non-white people from voting. They always tell you they’re not racist, they’re just worried about illegal voting. That’s bull. These people are racist scum, and that’s all there is to it.

Y’all have heard me rant before about liberals who’ve decided the only way to solve the problem of racism in the South is to expel the South from the United States. The thing these supposedly good liberals don’t realize is that when they say things like that, they’re also spitting in the faces of the great civil rights leaders and openly siding with the Bull Connors.

Liberals who want to expel the South would be giving Southern racists free rein to turn the clock back as far as they wanted, essentially abandoning millions of African Americans, Hispanics, women, gays, trans people, atheists, and even other liberals to people who would gleefully enslave, imprison, oppress, and execute them. Liberals who want to expel the South are signaling their willingness to do the KKK’s bidding, to give the wingnuts the victory they’ve always dreamed of. They’re siding with Jefferson Davis over Abraham Lincoln. They’re looking at the hard work and sacrifices of John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and thousands of others, and declaring they don’t care, it was all a failure, and let’s just let injustice rule again.

That’s a lot of the reason this book makes me angry. We’ve come so far — but still not far enough — and too many people are willing to abandon all that progress because they’re bored. And because they know they won’t suffer any of the consequences.

March, Book Two is a great book. You should definitely go pick it up.

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