This groundbreaking graphic novel is a collection of stories from African American history that exemplifies success in the face of great adversity. Joel Gill offers historical and cultural commentary on nine uncelebrated heroes whose stories are not often found in history books. From the adventures of lawman Bass Reeves, to Henry “Box” Brown’s daring escape from slavery, and the tragedy on Malaga Island, these beautifully illustrated stories offer a refreshing look at remarkable African Americans.
Strange Fruit is especially important as we say goodbye to an era that saw the end of the Voting Rights Act, the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Florida’s Trayvon Martin case. The nation as a whole is grappling with race and history, which is evident even in popular culture. Jay-Z and Kanye West both released albums in 2013 that sampled the haunting song “Strange Fruit” made famous by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. We believe comics can be an invaluable resource for teaching about our shared history. As this discussion continues in 2014, we hope Strange Fruit will be an educational but enjoyable tool for readers of all ages.
Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, with words and pictures by Joel Christian Gill and a foreword by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is published by Fulcrum Publishing.
For additional information and purchase the book click here.
About the author
Joel Christian Gill is the chairman, CEO, president, director of development, majority and minority stock holder, manager, co-manager, regional manager, assistant to the regional manager, receptionist, senior black correspondent, and janitor of Strange Fruit Comics. In his spare time he is the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and member of The Boston Comics Roundtable. He received his MFA from Boston University and a BA from Roanoke College. His secret lair is behind a secret panel in the kitchen of his house (sold separately) in New Boston, New Hampshire where he lives with his wife, four children, talking dog, and two psychic cats. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on his blog.
"By the time I finished reading Strange Fruit, I thought, let the comic-book sellers have their mythic superheroes; through Joel Gill, we can have our own. But, instead of flying around in capes or spinning webs, the superheroes in Strange Fruit are extraordinary-ordinary black folks making 'a way out of no way.' The difference: they really lived."
— Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
“These offbeat stories of heretofore-obscure African-American pioneers are filled with heartbreak and triumph. Without whitewashing the realities of slavery and racism, Strange Fruit has a wry, welcoming tone — much aided by Gill’s dynamic, inventive storytelling. After reading about such real American heroes as chess master Theophilus Thompson, bicycling champion Marshall “Major” Taylor, and lawman Bass Reeves, I’m eager to learn more!”
— Josh Neufeld, writer/illustrator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
“Strange Fruit is an evocative and richly illustrated tour through the shadowed corners of Black History. Gill shares these nine stories simply and with deep thoughtfulness and reverence to voices that-- the reader will quickly be convinced-- need to be heard.”
— Andrew Aydin, author, with Rep. John Lewis, of March: Book One
Book review provided by Fulcrum Publishing.