King: The Special Edition by Ho Che Anderson

Fantagraphics Books
Available 02/28/10 in Hardcover

A special expanded edition of a Fantagraphics classic.

Ho Che Anderson has spent over 10 years researching, writing, and drawing King, a monumental graphic biography that liberates Martin Luther King Jr. from the saintly, one-dimensional, hagiographic image so prevalent in pop culture. Here is King — father, husband, politician, deal broker, idealist, pragmatist, inspiration to millions — brought to vivid, flesh-and-blood life.

Out of print since 2006, King is Fantagraphics’ most-requested reprint. In recognition of the advances made in American social equality that has made it possible to elect America’s first black President, Fantagraphics Books is publishing King: The Special Edition, a newly designed volume that includes the original 240-page graphic biography, as well as nearly a hundred additional pages of “extras,” including:
Black Dogs” is a 14-page prelude to King, a dialogue between a young black couple expecting a child, living in LA in the aftermath of the Rodney King upheaval, a raw and inflected conversation between husband and wife and their racial attitudes in a post-King world;
Excerpts from the diary and notebook the author kept when researching and writing King, with interstitial notes written specifically for this volume commenting on the method he used to conceived and execute the book;
Preparatory sketches, discarded images and pages, an interview conducted at the time of the third volume’s publication, and excerpts from the draft of the script;
An epilogue titled “Assassin,” written and drawn for this new edition, in which Anderson explores the question of whether James Earl Ray actually shot King. Caroline Longstreet, one of the observers who comments on King’s life throughout the book, is obsessed with the assassination, won’t let it rest, and pursues her own private investigation and ultimately confronts the reasons why it’s held her in its grip so long.

Anderson’s biography traces King’s life from his childhood in Atlanta and his education at Booker T. Washington High School, and his subsequent centrality to the civil rights movement when, in 1955, he organized the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott; his founding of the Southern Christian leadership Conference in 1957; his Nobel Prize in 1964; his help in organizing the 1966 March on Washington and his “I Have a Dream” speech; and the tragic moment on April 4, 1968 when he was shot dead on the balcony of the Loraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Anderson’s expressionistic visual style is wrought with dramatic energy; panels evoke a painterly attention to detail but whose juxtapositions propel King’s story with cinematic momentum. Anderson’s successful use of the comics form to tell a major work of nonfiction has drawn favorable comparisons to Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale and Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde: The War In Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995. King won a 1995 Parents’ Choice Award. Full-color throughout.

One thought on “King: The Special Edition by Ho Che Anderson”

  1. Fantagraphics to Release Special Edition of King Graphic Biography
    This story originally appeared in PW Comics Week January 26, 2010
    By Calvin Reid — Publishers Weekly, 1/25/2010 2:56:00 PM

    Originally published in three volumes released between 1993 and 2003, King, Ho Che Anderson’s much acclaimed graphic biography of Martin Luther King, will be re-released in a special revised hardcover edition in February in conjunction with the beginning of Black History Month. Hailed for its extensive research into the life of King and for its vividly candid, almost cinematic recreation of the Civil Rights leader’s life, King: The Special Edition offers previously unpublished pages in addition to a variety of supplementary materials that include original script pages, extensive sketches and character designs, alternate cover art and an essay by Anderson on his struggles to complete the book.

    Fantagraphics is releasing a first printing of 7,000 hardcover copies of King: The Special Edition ($34.99, 312 pages). Previous editions of the book released by Fantagraphics sold a combined total of about 25,000 copies before going out of print. Anderson’s biography follows King’s life from his childhood and university years to his rise to prominence as a fiery Baptist minister and the path to becoming the controversial leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. The book recreates King’s life—his brilliant oratory and social accomplishments as well as his personal failings—documenting both the danger of the times and the violence aimed at the movement and its followers as well as the behind-the-scenes political maneuverings between King, his own organization and a succession of American presidents.

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