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Review: Graphic Novel--Between the Devil and Miles Davis by Lance Tooks

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  • Chris Hayden
    The following review will appear in the Kwanzaa 2006 edition of Sisters Nineties magazine Not Yer Granddaddy s Funny book BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND MILES DAVIS By
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2006
      The following review will appear in the Kwanzaa 2006 edition of
      Sisters Nineties magazine

      Not Yer Granddaddy's Funny book

      By Lance Tooks
      75 Pages, NBM Publishing, $15.75

      "A pair of ghost giants/Keep me up nights with endless
      protests/Writing and Moaning in my ears as if there's a solitary
      thing that I can do to set them to rest.
      "If I were brave I'd step off in to the air right now.
      "Then there'd be three restless souls loose."
      From Between the Devil and Miles Davis

      Say, "comic books" and most folks think 32 page pamphlets featuring
      the four color adventures of tight-and-cape-wearing white guys
      flying around and beating each other up. Since the 1960's that has
      been the dominant vision sold and promoted by the comic book
      industry (not withstanding Giant Annuals or Black Panther, Luke
      Cage, Storm, Blade and the Milestone Crew, which some might argue
      are but Black versions of the same pre adolescent male power fantasy.
      However since the 1970's graphic novels¬ólonger some times book
      length publications--have presented comics as serious art-- like
      Lance Tooks' Between the Devil and Miles Davis.
      Lance Tooks is a longtime comic book professional. He has
      been assistant editor at Marvel comics, his comics have appeared in
      Zuzu, Shade and Girltalk. http://www.lancetooks.com/
      Between the Devil and Miles Davis is the fourth volume of
      his series Lucifer's Garden of Verses that, according to his
      publisher, NBM Publishing http://www.nbmpub.com/
      feature "the fictional character Lucifer". The heroine of Between
      the Devil and Miles Davis is Amo Tanzer, a chain smoking "hard-
      bitten and cynical" bi sexual bi racial New York journalist who
      is "procrastinating at her next assignment, writing on Miles
      Davis". After some Manhattan style journalist's adventures she
      winds up in a mysterious bar called the Smokery.
      The rest of the book is a sometimes surreal conversation,
      presented in short separately titled sections, between her and
      Narcissa, the bar owner a black female character featured in Tooks'
      graphic novel Narcissa, about the life and art of Miles Davis their
      own lives, attitudes, hopes and frustrations.
      Fans of Eric Jerome Dickey, Spike Lee, Jules Feiffer, the
      late Richard "Grass" Green, Los Bros Hernandez' and Harvey Pekar
      should like this book. The art ranges from the cartoony to the
      realistic and detailed. The writing is wry, culturally racially and
      politically conscious and so literate that you have to read it as
      closely as you do a novel.
      This would be a perfect comic for The Village Voice.
      I most enjoyed "Acquanetta v Jack Johnson". In that section
      Narcissa tells Amo the story of how her mother, an actress "in the
      years Before Spike" fought a losing battle to get more blacks into
      the film industry (was the little fascist director "who shot a film
      a year in the city yet refused to hire blacks for any positions in
      his productions" Woody Allen?)
      With this work as well as others Tooks no doubt seeks to
      make the comic form palatable to a broader audience and broaden the
      tastes of the comic audience. I applaud his efforts, those of NBM
      Publishing and others in the comic industry who strive to make
      comics worthy of consideration as serious art.

      Chris Hayden

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