Staff Picks (February): Josephine Baker GN

This beautiful graphic novel by Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Mulier, the same creative team that produced the award winning Kiki De Montparnasse, brings to life the thoroughly American entertainment icon Josephine Baker. Catel’s wonderfully evocative black and white style perfectly captures Baker’s unique persona, at once humorous and powerful and always full of life. You may think you know Miss Baker’s story as the banana festooned American émigré on stage in France but like many I was unaware of her efforts with the French Resistance during the war, her creation of an orphanage (herself adopting many children), and her involvement in the March on Washington in 1963.

Make no mistake, this is a truly adult biography the details Josephine’s life, warts and all, including her active love life. Catel’s art style is bold and crisp as it slinks through these affairs sensually but it also evocatively shows her gangly childhood and her twists and bounces performing on stage. Bocquet’s dialog is clear and true and competently translated. The one weakness I found was Josephine Baker’s life was so large that even at 496 pages at times appearances by historical greats as varied as Princess Grace, Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro, Pope Paul VI, and Charles de Gaulle can feel a little like walk-ons. But this is just a minor quibble on this timely graphic biography of a true icon of a woman.

Jim Fallone

Publisher: Selfmadehero
Item Code: FEB171847
Release Date: 4/12/17
SRP: $22.95

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