"The Silence of Our Friends"
Published on Saturday, February 18, 2012 - 3:37pm
There have been some pretty monumental and groundbreaking works important to black history coming from the world of graphic novels over the last few years. Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece's Incognegro tells the story of an African-American journalist working for a black newspaper based in New York City. Due to his complexion he is able to pass as white, and he uses this to infiltrate Klan groups in the south so that he can report and expose the identities of those under the hoods. Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans takes a more historically oriented approach to black history from slavery to the ascendancy of President Barack Obama.
The most recent exploration of race relations in graphic novels leans more toward the personal experience, rather than the broader historic narrative. The Silence of Our Friends is the semi-autobiographical story of Mark Long's family, and their personal encounters with the extremely segregated society of Houston in 1968. Long's father, a reporter for a local TV station, has been covering the civil rights protests on college campuses, and he develops a friendship with an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. When five black college students get unjustly indicted for the murder of a white police officer, the two families come together to help secure their release.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library will host authors Mark Long and Jim Demonakos, and Eisner Award-winning illustrator Nate Powell to talk about the politically charged dynamics and difficult societal tensions of that era, and discuss and show the process they went through to get that history on the page. Copies of The Silence of Our Friends will be available for purchase at the event courtesy of Big Planet Comics.