Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 96

The Silence Of Our Friends

by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell
Genre notes: history, memoir-ish, civil rights
208 pages
ISBN: 1596436182 (Amazon)

A lot of you are familiar with Nate Powell from his work illustrating Rep. John Lewis' memoir March. He does powerful work and it's a powerful story, but March isn't the first time he's illustrated stories from the Civil Rights Movement. A few years after Powell's seminal work Swallow Me Whole and one year after Any Empire, Powell illustrated The Silence Of Our Friends, Mark Long's story about his father's part in 1967 Houston and the civil rights turmoil at the time.

Jack Long is a white television journalist and his station's "race reporter." Jack is sympathetic to the black cause and makes friends with Larry Thompson, a leader with SNCC (readers of March will be familiar with the group). The scope of the book moves from the framing of Samuel Otis for murder through the TSU Five and concludes with the death of King.

While March is maybe more overtly powerful, The Silence Of Our Friends is perhaps more intimate, focusing much of its space on the perspective of both Jack and Larry's children and how they absorb and interact with the world their parents are giving them.

Some might question making the foremost protagonist of a book about the Civil Rights Movement a white man, but the autobiographical context I think absolves the book of what might be more questionable in a work of pure fiction. Writer Mark poses an intimate portrait of his own father and a vaguely less intimate one of Larry Thompson—and he does spend a fair amount of time with the camera on his young self.

Where the book really shines is in Powell's organic brushwork. These pages are beautiful and lively—and it's absolutely no wonder that he got tapped to draw March on the strength of his work here.

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