Illustrated by Ronald Wimberly
Publisher: Image Comics
On a surface level, any Ronald Wimberly book is going to be gorgeous looking. The man knows how to design on top of being a phenomenal artist. But subject matter as always is important, and what’s essentially a listing of quotes can end up looking positively rote in the wrong hands. However, Wimberly ends up making each individual subject interesting on their own merits. What also makes the book stand out is the wide range of black history being covered. The book goes and swings from figures as far apart as Kanye to Sojurner Truth.
The book is as Wimberly states in the forward: is a curation of figures who’ve impacted him across his life, it speaks to the diverse and wide range of people that inhabit the black community, and unfortunately just how ruthlessly those people can be ignored for the favored narrative that defines black people in America. Being able to compare and contrast the wide wide range of black artists, thinkers, and fighters that have risen and fallen over the years is a very rare opportunity, and one that’s greatly suited during a time where being black is a constant assault. When even what’s a short month is denigrated for even existing, having this book is a great act on the part of Ronald Wimberly in showing there’s more to black thinkers than just the Civil Rights era and done in a very very wide range of styles. Given that Mr. Wimberly is the sole artist, and using the same format for the quotes, the shift is quite jarring and impressive.
Overall, while this book is very short: it’s a gift worth having on Black History Month. Considering the times we live in, being able to broaden the range of who contributed to history and art is more important than ever. While some would call releasing this book on February a marketing tactic, it’s very smart marketing, and one worth tipping the hat for. While some people might be disappointed this isn’t hard sequential art, sometimes being able to provide a voice for a mass or people lost to time is just as important. This project is most definitely money well-spent.
4 Stars out of 5