Next up in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide we find an epic biography in comics of Josephine Baker by the French team of Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller. This is a huge graphic novel that won all kinds of awards in Europe before being translated into English earlier this year. This is the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys biographical comics, or has any historical interest in Jazz, race relations, pre-war France or really anything that happened in the first half of the previous century.
Bocquet is a novelist and comics writer whose work has been published in the legendary Metal Hurlant, while Muller has collaborate on several acclaimed comics and graphic novels. Their work on Josephine Baker is exhaustive.
Josephine Baker (1906–1975) was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires. After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered personally. She led by example, and over the course of the 1950s adopted twelve orphans of different ethnic backgrounds: a veritable Rainbow Tribe. A victim of racism throughout her life, Josephine Baker would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.
The story covers the 68 years of its subject’s life in tremendous detail. Bocquet has left no stone unturned and his research comes through in an authoritative way. Muller’s artwork serves the story very well. She has a terrific style that recalls the work of early-20th century magazine cartoonists, with a looser line and heavy contrast. Despite the length, you do not get tired of the pace or the way this book looks. In addition to the main story, which runs over 460 pages, Josephine Baker also includes over a hundred pages of additional prose material, including a timeline and biographies of all the major and minor players in Baker’s life.
Bocquet and Muller give the reader a front-row seat for the life of one of the greatest performers of all time. Any fan of historical comics, entertainer bios or epic stories will love Josephine Baker. You can order it from any bookseller that doesn’t already have it in stock using the ISBN number, or hit up Amazon, where everything seems to be heavily-discounted this time of year.