One of the inspiring opportunities of Black History Month is the chance to be introduced to talents we might otherwise miss without intention. In this second spotlight (see the first here), our gaze turns to artist and graphic novelist Kyle Baker.
Baker’s creations play with different styles and tones, which makes sampling his stories an exploration of the unexpected. Blending computer-generated art with hand-drawn work, the illustrations often appear animated movie-ready, reminiscent of storyboards, and the unusual touch of captioning below the image rather than having text integrated into the panel emphasizes the power of the art on its own. That impact is heightened by his use of highly saturated colors which make the characters and action pop from the page.
Experience one or more of Baker’s celebrated works for yourself. Whether you are primed to learn, to laugh, to escape, or to think, you’ll find a match in the Library’s collection. Start with one of these:
The story of Nat Turner’s historic slave rebellion is powerfully realized in this award-winning graphic novel. Dramatic images do most of the talking, only sparingly supplemented with outbursts of text. Intentionally breaking from his reputation for bold colors, Baker depicts the action in muted sepia tones that are no less eye-catching, allowing the haunting images to etch the lives and lessons of history into our understanding.
Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel
by Aaron McGruder and Reginald Hudlin
illustrated by Kyle Baker
When hundreds of its black citizens are turned away from national polls for suspicious reasons, what is the town of East St. Louis, Illinois to do? Secede and start a separate country, of course! Baker’s lively illustrations enhance the satire of McGruder and Hudlin’s tale, making us smile even as their social and political points hit the mark.
David of Israel, this is your life! From precocious lad to powerful but flawed monarch, his story is infused with both action and attitude. Baker effectively holds attention captive even during well-traveled episodes, most especially during the shepherd boy’s confrontation with gargantuan soldier Goliath.
Billed as “a spectacular, full-color urban romantic comedy about what happens when the things we hide come back to haunt us,” this wisecracking romp illustrates the story of a former criminal, his unaware New Age girlfriend, and a serial killer with a grudge. Buckle in for an outrageous combination of noir, action, and humor sure to offer the escapism you might need.