As part of an effort to boost Black voices in the comics and book community, I'm trying to mostly only read works by Black writers and artists for the month of June. This time I pulled down one I've been looking forward to for a while. Bitter Root , Vol. 1 collects the first 5 issues of the series written by David F. Walker and Chuck Brown and drawn by Sanford Greene. A sci-fi/horror series about a family of Black monster hunters living in 1920's Harlem, it felt like a natural fit to read this month.
I was writing a review today about a superhero comic book today and frankly it felt like a pointless thing to be doing this week. Instead, inspired by my friend at Words for Worms, I'm just going to list some of my favorite books and comics written by Black creators in my favorite genres. There's a ton of material going around about anti-racist material written by Black people. These books, poems, films, TV shows, etc are essential, but it seems vitally important to support Black creators in their endeavors that aren't just about explicitly tackling racism. I've put together a short and not-at-all comprehensive of some of my favorite recent fiction from Black creators. Black Lives Matter. Black Art Matters.
Paying the Land is the latest work from acclaimed comics journalist Joe Sacco, who is best known for his works like Palestine and Footnotes in Gaza. In Paying the Land, Sacco turns his eye towards the Dene, who are the people indigenous to the Mackenzie River Valley in the Canadian Northwest. Sacco recounts the the impact that the booming mining and oil industries have had on the lives of the Dene Nation. Sacco then works his way back through other struggles the Dene have faced as they continually weigh the benefits of industrialization with the costs to their way of life.
South of the Border, West of the Sun is one of the most famous works from the acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. It is the shortest book that I have read from Murakami, at just over 200 pages. South of the Border tells the story of a man named Hajime. Murakami tracks Hajime's life from a childhood love through adolescence and then through middle-age, which finds him married with two children. At the heart of the book is Hajime's struggle with never having lost the obsession of his childhood sweetheart, Shimamoto, and the threat this obsession poses to his domestic life when circumstances find her re-enter his life.
Something Is Killing the Children is a new series from BOOM! Studios written by James Tynion IV and drawn Werther Dell'Edera, with Miguel Muerto on colors. This first volume of the series finds a small town plagued by a number of missing and murdered children. Not great! When one kid named James does return, the police don't believe his gruesome story of monsters in the woods being responsible for the dismemberment of his friends. The mystery escalates when a woman going by Erica Slaughter shows up in town, saying she believes James and that she's come to take care of the problem.
Shuri is the latest in a series of Marvel's efforts to publish novels targeted at the YA/middle-grade audience.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes focuses on an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow. For those who recognize the name but can't place it, Snow is president of Panem during the happenings of the Hunger Games and is the primary antagonist from the trilogy. The Hunger Games are only in their tenth year and the physical and emotional trauma from the war with the districts are still fresh in the minds of the population of the capitol.
Network Effect is the fifth entry in The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. It's the first full length novel of the series. The previous 4 Murderbot stories have all been novellas. The series follows an AI "SecUnit", an android whose responsibility is to protect those who it is contracted to, named Murderbot. Murderbot has gained some freedoms not usually afforded to bots and much of the series' charm comes from Murderbot trying to understand the human condition.
The Will and the Wilds finds a land where monsters called mystings linger in the wildwood beyond the village, threatening the townspeople. Our main character, Enna, is one of the few who engages in the kind of rituals and magic that might get her ostracized if the other townspeople were to find out. Enna's willingness to strike a deal with a mysting to help protect herself and her father leads to trouble after the deal goes awry.