Beautiful Monster

Jeremy Love’s astounding, graphic novel Bayou (volume one) is filled with many not so beautiful monsters: ghosts of Southern racism and tragedy; and beautiful ones, like Bayou—the large, hulking, green-tinged monster of the Mississippi bayou who wonderfully calls on his inner courage to help a new friend in need, even as it jeopardizes his own safety. Admittedly, I am not the biggest reader of graphic novels and while I’ve read entire comic collections, namely: The Far Side and The Boondocks among others—I’d probably read more graphic novels if they were all like Bayou: haunting, achingly familiar and beautifully drawn. I couldn’t get the book out of my mind after I read it the first day: the colours, all the ochres and amber, shades of grey, browns, and moss greens nestled in the dark shadows; the soul of Emmett Till (Billy) with large sunset-tinged wings on his back, and Lee Wagstaff with her pluck and tenacity, reminding me fondly of Liza Lou in some ways, picking her way through the swamp to grandmother’s house. Lee is a well drawn blackgirl character who nicely encapsulates some of the variant tensions of blackgirlhood in the 1930s in the South (and still today in some ways). I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would encourage anyone to read it in print or online. (See Bayou link embeded above. You can thank me later.)

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