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King: The Complete Edition: A Comics Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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This groundbreaking body of comics journalism collects for first time Anderson's entire biography of the renowned civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over a decade in the making, the saga has been praised for its vivid recreation of one of the most tumultuous periods in U.S. history and for its accuracy in depicting the personal and public lives of King, from This groundbreaking body of comics journalism collects for first time Anderson's entire biography of the renowned civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over a decade in the making, the saga has been praised for its vivid recreation of one of the most tumultuous periods in U.S. history and for its accuracy in depicting the personal and public lives of King, from his birth to his assassination. King probes the life story of one of America's greatest public figures with an unflinchingly critical eye, casting King as an ambitious, dichotomous figure deserving of his place in history but not above moral sacrifice to get there. Anderson's expressionistic visual style is wrought with dramatic energy; panels evoke a painterly attention to detail but juxtapose with one another in such a way as to propel King's story with cinematic momentum. Anderson's successful use of the graphic novel to tell a major work of nonfiction has drawn favorable comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Joe Sacco's Palestine, and Osamu Tezuka's Adolph. Ho Che Anderson's biography traces King's life from his childhood in Atlanta and his education at Booker T. Washington High School, Morehouse College, and the Crozer Theological Seminary and his centrality to the civil rights movement: his first public involvement in civil rights when, in 1955, as President of the Montgomery Improvement Association, he organized the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott; his founding of the Southern Christian leadership Conference in 1957; his help in organizing the 1966 March on Washington and his "I Have a Dream" speech there; his Nobel price in 1964; his voter-registration campaign that ended in the Selma-to-Montgomery Freedom March; and the tragic moment on April 4, 1968 when he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. King not only recreates the major events in King's public life, but chronicles the daily, rough-and-tumble, behind-the-scenes political maneuverings and strategic compromises that were required to mobilize millions of people toward a common goal. His internal debates with Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson and his hardball negotiations with John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson are dramatized. Anderson's achievement is not merely a political biography filled with names and dates, but a fully rounded portrait of fallible human engaged in a superhuman effort his fears, his doubts, his relationship with his wife Coretta King, and his children are compassionately and truthfully rendered. Anderson's visual approach includes the use of photographs, realistic portraiture, and expressionistic imagery alternating between stark black and white chiaroscuro and painterly full color. The dialogue is unflinchingly naturalistic and accurately reflects the moral urgency and labyrinthine political and practical complexities that King was navigating, from his deeply felt, personal commitment to a public cause to the wider political eruptions the country was experiencing. This is a respectful, unsparing, truthful biography of a man and his times that captures the moral and political gravitas of the cause as well as its human dimension. A major work of comics, depicting a major work of history.


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This groundbreaking body of comics journalism collects for first time Anderson's entire biography of the renowned civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over a decade in the making, the saga has been praised for its vivid recreation of one of the most tumultuous periods in U.S. history and for its accuracy in depicting the personal and public lives of King, from This groundbreaking body of comics journalism collects for first time Anderson's entire biography of the renowned civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Over a decade in the making, the saga has been praised for its vivid recreation of one of the most tumultuous periods in U.S. history and for its accuracy in depicting the personal and public lives of King, from his birth to his assassination. King probes the life story of one of America's greatest public figures with an unflinchingly critical eye, casting King as an ambitious, dichotomous figure deserving of his place in history but not above moral sacrifice to get there. Anderson's expressionistic visual style is wrought with dramatic energy; panels evoke a painterly attention to detail but juxtapose with one another in such a way as to propel King's story with cinematic momentum. Anderson's successful use of the graphic novel to tell a major work of nonfiction has drawn favorable comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale, Joe Sacco's Palestine, and Osamu Tezuka's Adolph. Ho Che Anderson's biography traces King's life from his childhood in Atlanta and his education at Booker T. Washington High School, Morehouse College, and the Crozer Theological Seminary and his centrality to the civil rights movement: his first public involvement in civil rights when, in 1955, as President of the Montgomery Improvement Association, he organized the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott; his founding of the Southern Christian leadership Conference in 1957; his help in organizing the 1966 March on Washington and his "I Have a Dream" speech there; his Nobel price in 1964; his voter-registration campaign that ended in the Selma-to-Montgomery Freedom March; and the tragic moment on April 4, 1968 when he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. King not only recreates the major events in King's public life, but chronicles the daily, rough-and-tumble, behind-the-scenes political maneuverings and strategic compromises that were required to mobilize millions of people toward a common goal. His internal debates with Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson and his hardball negotiations with John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson are dramatized. Anderson's achievement is not merely a political biography filled with names and dates, but a fully rounded portrait of fallible human engaged in a superhuman effort his fears, his doubts, his relationship with his wife Coretta King, and his children are compassionately and truthfully rendered. Anderson's visual approach includes the use of photographs, realistic portraiture, and expressionistic imagery alternating between stark black and white chiaroscuro and painterly full color. The dialogue is unflinchingly naturalistic and accurately reflects the moral urgency and labyrinthine political and practical complexities that King was navigating, from his deeply felt, personal commitment to a public cause to the wider political eruptions the country was experiencing. This is a respectful, unsparing, truthful biography of a man and his times that captures the moral and political gravitas of the cause as well as its human dimension. A major work of comics, depicting a major work of history.

30 review for King: The Complete Edition: A Comics Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roberta

    L'unica obiezione che posso muovere a questo esaustivo volume sulla vita e le opere di Martin Luther King è che per me è scritto troppo piccolo, ho fatto fatica a leggere alcune pagine. Per il resto c'è tutto quello che potevo desiderare di sapere su questa figura e su tutto ciò che sta dietro al famoso discorso "I have a dream". Non ne esce fuori una figura simpaticissima, per quel che mi riguarda, ma è innegabile che abbia fatto moltissimo per i diritti civili. L'unica obiezione che posso muovere a questo esaustivo volume sulla vita e le opere di Martin Luther King è che per me è scritto troppo piccolo, ho fatto fatica a leggere alcune pagine. Per il resto c'è tutto quello che potevo desiderare di sapere su questa figura e su tutto ciò che sta dietro al famoso discorso "I have a dream". Non ne esce fuori una figura simpaticissima, per quel che mi riguarda, ma è innegabile che abbia fatto moltissimo per i diritti civili.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrés Santiago

    I really wanted to like this more. The artwork is astonishing, understated and daring at the same time. The story is what really matters, but it is confusing at times, you really need to know your facts in order to follow it. It might benefit from re-reading it, but I will leave that for later, it was exhausting the first time round. Who knows, in a few years this could be a classic...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz Yerby

    Most graphic biographies are written to make a young adult understand the basics of someone's life, but this book is a refreshing departure from that. It ponders nonviolent versus nonviolent protests and the different aspects of MLK from a variety of perspectives and cast members and it was very thoughtful and there was panel repetition placed in a really interesting way. My main gripe is the fonts. handwritten text would've helped it flow much better for me. And the speech bubbles got a bit hard Most graphic biographies are written to make a young adult understand the basics of someone's life, but this book is a refreshing departure from that. It ponders nonviolent versus nonviolent protests and the different aspects of MLK from a variety of perspectives and cast members and it was very thoughtful and there was panel repetition placed in a really interesting way. My main gripe is the fonts. handwritten text would've helped it flow much better for me. And the speech bubbles got a bit hard to read in order. But it was very surprising, and very good. Worth a reread.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I liked that this wasn't hagiography; this portrayed King as a real man. I didn't like all the different view points. I found it very hard to follow at points. I liked that this wasn't hagiography; this portrayed King as a real man. I didn't like all the different view points. I found it very hard to follow at points.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    King, The Complete Edition: A Comic Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a biographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Ho Che Anderson. It collects all three volumes of the series and is a surprisingly in-depth biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. As today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (20 January), I thought it would be apropos to read this graphic novel. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the King, The Complete Edition: A Comic Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a biographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Ho Che Anderson. It collects all three volumes of the series and is a surprisingly in-depth biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. As today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (20 January), I thought it would be apropos to read this graphic novel. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. This graphic novel is a compelling and often moving narrative of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Anderson follows King from boyhood through college and into the stormy Civil Rights movement. However, while the broad narrative of King's life may be familiar, this is hardly a comic approach to the man. King, The Complete Edition: A Comic Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is written and constructed rather well. Anderson employs a uniquely multifaceted and multilayered graphic and narrative approach to capture the complexity of King's life and times. Anderson technique falls somewhere between cartooning, painting, collage and documentary photography and it is deeply effective. All in all, King, The Complete Edition: A Comic Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is a wonderful biography of one of the most influential activist in modern times – Martin Luther King Jr.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Ho Che Anderson spent 18 years preparing and creating this piece. The amalgamation of quotes and photos amongst his drawings and imagined interactions is very well done. It is more than just a biography though, it also touches on the validity of violence vs non-violence in protest, how the media can be skewed in their reporting, how people viewed MLK’s ‘propaganda’, his rise and fall from public opinion, and his human weaknesses. Anderson writes about his process over those 18 years at the end o Ho Che Anderson spent 18 years preparing and creating this piece. The amalgamation of quotes and photos amongst his drawings and imagined interactions is very well done. It is more than just a biography though, it also touches on the validity of violence vs non-violence in protest, how the media can be skewed in their reporting, how people viewed MLK’s ‘propaganda’, his rise and fall from public opinion, and his human weaknesses. Anderson writes about his process over those 18 years at the end of the book, and how messy life can be during that period. He also lists the books and documentaries that were used as inspiration and a basis for his work, as well as mentioning that he still messed some bits up. Anderson’s style isn’t one I find particularly easy to read, but sometimes that just adds to the weight of the subject. I think it was an impressive piece, and I definitely have more reading on MLK that I want to do.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Jemanji

    Graphic novels are supposed to be visually appealing and with interesting dialogue mainly focused on the key events. This book was boring anf ugly. It was also near impossible to sustain the narrative. I made it 80% of the way because I like graphic novels on historical figures but this is a hard pass. I felt I gained little of a sence of the time, the people, the energy or the atmosphere. Ps. This book had the worst action animation in history when the boy is shot in Chicago riots, a 10 yo could Graphic novels are supposed to be visually appealing and with interesting dialogue mainly focused on the key events. This book was boring anf ugly. It was also near impossible to sustain the narrative. I made it 80% of the way because I like graphic novels on historical figures but this is a hard pass. I felt I gained little of a sence of the time, the people, the energy or the atmosphere. Ps. This book had the worst action animation in history when the boy is shot in Chicago riots, a 10 yo could have drawn better. NOT WORTH PRINTING

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abe

    Part 3 was best, 2 was the weakest. The visuals being all over the place didn't bother me, as the art was mostly great, and the writing was mostly good. What keeps this from being great is the presentation of the text. Hard to follow, sometimes hard to read, and mixes very badly with the art. Overall, the strength of part 3 saved it from its problems. Part 3 was best, 2 was the weakest. The visuals being all over the place didn't bother me, as the art was mostly great, and the writing was mostly good. What keeps this from being great is the presentation of the text. Hard to follow, sometimes hard to read, and mixes very badly with the art. Overall, the strength of part 3 saved it from its problems.

  9. 5 out of 5

    TJ

    Wanted to like this. Just couldn’t get into it. Also very traditional bio- ignored the contributions of women to the movement

  10. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Dense.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan Kim

    I didn't really like the drawings in the book. Its hard to follow who is who in the book at times; it would have been helfpul if there was an index of a cast of characters and their impact on the civil rights movement and where each of them helped out to allow the reader to get the most out of the book. Many graphic novels do this. I do like how it was pretty extensive. The I have a dream speech was great towards the last quarter of the book; always inspired by that speech regardless, but was ne I didn't really like the drawings in the book. Its hard to follow who is who in the book at times; it would have been helfpul if there was an index of a cast of characters and their impact on the civil rights movement and where each of them helped out to allow the reader to get the most out of the book. Many graphic novels do this. I do like how it was pretty extensive. The I have a dream speech was great towards the last quarter of the book; always inspired by that speech regardless, but was neat to read it in this format.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I appreciated and enjoyed the story's framework and content - this book is for people already familiar with King. If you are already very familiar with King's story, interpretation of the story is easier. It's not a complete story - you just get segments of his life. Anderson looks at King in his context, weaving in perspectives from people looking back at the events in addition to frames showing key moments as they unfold. Sometimes we hear from people who were close to Dr. King and the events, I appreciated and enjoyed the story's framework and content - this book is for people already familiar with King. If you are already very familiar with King's story, interpretation of the story is easier. It's not a complete story - you just get segments of his life. Anderson looks at King in his context, weaving in perspectives from people looking back at the events in addition to frames showing key moments as they unfold. Sometimes we hear from people who were close to Dr. King and the events, sometimes it is a casual observer. The narrative is also built from both King's fellow travelers and his detractors. A chaos and complexity comes through in the story along with choices and challenges faced along the way. It was challenging to read, though. Anderson's art is beautiful, but the story-telling devices don't always work seamlessly. Several times, I had to step back to track what was going on and who was speaking. Sometimes that's good (you look more closely at the images), but I do think there are points where the graphic flow could have been improved. The art was dark and rough, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - gave opportunity for some beautiful and powerful contrasts, but it felt too heavy and messy after a while. That speakers were never explicitly identified was also frustrating. You can figure out main characters from a section tile or because someone says their name, but the external voices and narrators that bring in the broader context are never identified. Some context at least to place them would have been helpful. But as a piece of art, I can see all of the frustrating pieces being meaningful as part of the overall work.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ren

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Like some other reviews have pointed out. You need to understand and know MLKs life very well to follow this comic. With my limited knowledge, I, unfortunately, was left lost and confused and often thought the comic 'jumped' from one scenario to the next without much warning to its readers. The art style often changes, not from one "chapter" to the next but even from one panel to the next, making it confusing to connect characters from one image to another. You will definitely have very strong r Like some other reviews have pointed out. You need to understand and know MLKs life very well to follow this comic. With my limited knowledge, I, unfortunately, was left lost and confused and often thought the comic 'jumped' from one scenario to the next without much warning to its readers. The art style often changes, not from one "chapter" to the next but even from one panel to the next, making it confusing to connect characters from one image to another. You will definitely have very strong reviews for this graphic novel depending on your knowledge on MLK. I feel that if I had prepared myself with more information on his background and life story, I would have enjoyed and praised this text as others have. ENDING SPOILER What I did enjoy about this novel is that the author did not focus on MLKS death, nor who the shooter was. We focus on his personal life in connection to his public life and what he was able to do (and what he struggled to do) both with 'insider' knowledge of what was happening 'behind the scenes' (aka his private life) in relation to his public appearance in the movement and media.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Hunsberger

    This book has a neat aesthetic to it that both makes the story more visceral and makes it hard to follow at times. There are whole pages of shadows or profiles conversing and I often found myself just reading the text without trying too hard to figure out who was saying what. Later in the book, this was improved by a consistent color code/scheme in the word bubbles. The subject matter for this book is uncomfortable for someone born in the 70s who never really got into history. And i found myself This book has a neat aesthetic to it that both makes the story more visceral and makes it hard to follow at times. There are whole pages of shadows or profiles conversing and I often found myself just reading the text without trying too hard to figure out who was saying what. Later in the book, this was improved by a consistent color code/scheme in the word bubbles. The subject matter for this book is uncomfortable for someone born in the 70s who never really got into history. And i found myself less often rejoicing in the victories than dismaying in the conditions that necessitated the struggle in the first place. So I don't know if I could say I "enjoyed" it, but it was very good and I am glad I read it. And it's a good way to get a feel for the emotional core of the civil rights movement, without getting into a long history book or depressingly graphic documentary.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rocco Versaci

    This is a major work that dares to humanize King by showing what a conflicted and complicated person he was. At the same time, Anderson pays appropriate tribute to his many accomplishments. One of the most ingenious methods of the book is to deliver parts of the story in a kind of "oral testimony" format, where we "hear" from those who knew King. Like another historian who works in the comic book format--Jack Jackson--Anderson deploys the elements of the medium to show how complex the task of hi This is a major work that dares to humanize King by showing what a conflicted and complicated person he was. At the same time, Anderson pays appropriate tribute to his many accomplishments. One of the most ingenious methods of the book is to deliver parts of the story in a kind of "oral testimony" format, where we "hear" from those who knew King. Like another historian who works in the comic book format--Jack Jackson--Anderson deploys the elements of the medium to show how complex the task of historical reconstruction can be.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robby Alexander

    Amazing artwork, and valiant effort to portray the life of such a legend. I also loved that at the end of the book he journals his 10 years of work to complete the book. The story, like others say jumps around a lot and you do really need to come to this book as a new perspective on information you already know and not a first time dip into King's life or you will not get nearly as much out of this work. Amazing artwork, and valiant effort to portray the life of such a legend. I also loved that at the end of the book he journals his 10 years of work to complete the book. The story, like others say jumps around a lot and you do really need to come to this book as a new perspective on information you already know and not a first time dip into King's life or you will not get nearly as much out of this work.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Pieters

    I was really looking forward to reading this book as I love Martin Luther King and thought a Graphic Novel would be a fun presentation of his Biography. It was a huge letdown. The images were very dark, and characters looked different from one page to the next so I kept getting confused as to who was who. Conversations leaped around randomly. I'm only challenging the art because I am an illustrator myself, but I felt that this could have been much better. I couldn't get past page 20. Bummer. I was really looking forward to reading this book as I love Martin Luther King and thought a Graphic Novel would be a fun presentation of his Biography. It was a huge letdown. The images were very dark, and characters looked different from one page to the next so I kept getting confused as to who was who. Conversations leaped around randomly. I'm only challenging the art because I am an illustrator myself, but I felt that this could have been much better. I couldn't get past page 20. Bummer.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David

    An interesting angle on a MLK biography, presenting a very human King, accessible and flawed. The art was interesting and unique, but not particularly varied for the most part. The choices of coloration, composition, and scene change gave the story a very chaotic, unsafe feel, which matched the time and King's life specifically. a little too wordy for me to really appreciate it as a graphic novel. not enough was told through the art alone. An interesting angle on a MLK biography, presenting a very human King, accessible and flawed. The art was interesting and unique, but not particularly varied for the most part. The choices of coloration, composition, and scene change gave the story a very chaotic, unsafe feel, which matched the time and King's life specifically. a little too wordy for me to really appreciate it as a graphic novel. not enough was told through the art alone.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sam Wescott

    This book is a lovely piece of art, but I found it very difficult to read. The visual aesthetic was gorgeous, as far as the art went, but the speech bubbles looked like an afterthought and did not always clearly designate the speaker. I love this method of biography - abandoning chronological order, including outside opinions, and subverting the traditional narrative - but found this book visually challenging and very frustrating.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Excellent telling of MLK's story without showing him as a villain or a god. I think the black and white art that dominates the book keeps the reader at a distance. As a reader born after his death, I've only seen MLK in shades of gray; maybe he'd seem more real if he'd been shown in color and not like another history book photo. Excellent telling of MLK's story without showing him as a villain or a god. I think the black and white art that dominates the book keeps the reader at a distance. As a reader born after his death, I've only seen MLK in shades of gray; maybe he'd seem more real if he'd been shown in color and not like another history book photo.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bubba

    It's called sequential art because you're supposed to be able to follow it from panel to panel. The author's abstract/every conversation in a darkened room style often obscures who is speaking. The change to color after the 'March on Washington' was interesting, but overall it was a tangled mass of explative studded arguments. Realism? Sure . . .but the name of the game is story-telling. It's called sequential art because you're supposed to be able to follow it from panel to panel. The author's abstract/every conversation in a darkened room style often obscures who is speaking. The change to color after the 'March on Washington' was interesting, but overall it was a tangled mass of explative studded arguments. Realism? Sure . . .but the name of the game is story-telling.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Interesting look at the last few years of MLK's life. I like that Anderson presented MLK as human and not as a cultural icon. Artwork is great. Problems with flow of action and page layout. Beautiful to look at, difficult to read. Interesting look at the last few years of MLK's life. I like that Anderson presented MLK as human and not as a cultural icon. Artwork is great. Problems with flow of action and page layout. Beautiful to look at, difficult to read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karrie Stewart

    I great look into MLK's personal life as well as his public one. It was great seeing MLK's speeches written in and with actual pictures from the times. I wish more bio's were written in graphic novel form. After reading, it's sad to see not much has changed since MLK was marching for equal rights. I great look into MLK's personal life as well as his public one. It was great seeing MLK's speeches written in and with actual pictures from the times. I wish more bio's were written in graphic novel form. After reading, it's sad to see not much has changed since MLK was marching for equal rights.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    The graphics did not appeal to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mayday Maddie

    Pretty good but it can be really hard to understand and some of the pictures are really weird-looking and dificult to get.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Buck Doyle

    I quite enjoyed it. I want to know more.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emre

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cort

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