REVIEW: ‘The Black Panther Party: The Graphic Novel History’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History

There are very few graphic novels that come into the market that are as timely as The Black Panther Party: The Graphic Novel History. This fantastic read, which published by Ten Speed Press, written by David Walker, and illustrated by Marcus Anderson, breaks down the history of one of the most controversial political groups to form during the Civil Rights Era.

I want to preface this by saying that reading this graphic novel gave me vibes from African American History classes I took back in college. I felt the same rage and empathy when learning about historical stories and references that I had no clue about. I can imagine that anyone reading this book will have a similar reaction when understanding that struggles the Black Panther party fought against are the same struggles that Black Live Matters activists contend with,

The book itself reads like a historical record that begins with the creations of the Black Panther Party in 1966 to its ultimate demise in 1982 sprinkled with the storytelling of specific events and biographical splash pages. This easily becomes one of the best non-fiction graphic novels on the market.

David Walker is a masterful writer who gives the right amount of information on each page to turn this graphic novel into an absolute page-turner. His style of storytelling and narration lends to the intentional vibe the reader will get from this book which allows a very bold and true story to be told about the Black Panther Party, warts, and all. This is not a book that glorifies the Black Panther Party, it is a commentary on all the revolutionary things that they did along with all the negative things that ran counter to their goals.

What really makes this book worthwhile is the illustrations by Marcus Anderson who shows his ability to switch from realistic biographic portraits to a simplistic style that fits incredibly well with the flow of the book. Anderson does an excellent job of capturing the time frame in which the story takes place and the color palette solidifies the feeling to the reader’s eyes that this is a historical work.

There is also something to be said for those who think they know everything about the Black Panther Party, this might be the book for you. Walker and Anderson do such a great job highlighting individuals who were members like Angela Davis, Bobby Seale, and Huey P. Newton with focusing too much on any one individual story unless it is significantly important like the death of Fred Hampton and the role of the FBI to actively undermine the organization. However, this book contains a nuance of things that many people may not know which I will certainly not spoil for anyone.

Of course, if you don’t know about the history of the Black Panther Party then this book would be a great place to start. David Walker makes sure to explain everything a person needs to know about The Black Panther Party like their breakfast program for children and their ten-point program. More importantly, Walker and Anderson are able to underscore the context of the time so that the reader understands that the same systems of oppression that are relevant today exist during this time in such a way that sparked action amongst men and women that were tired of racism.

Make no mistake, reading and understanding the history of the Black Panther Party through this graphic novel is an emotional experience. The revolutionary act of being Black and standing up against white supremacy during the Civil Rights Era often resulted in tragedy. The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History does justice to their story in ways the history books could not.

The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History is available wherever books are sold now.

The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History
5

TL;DR

Make no mistake, reading and understanding the history of the Black Panther Party through this graphic novel is an emotional experience. The revolutionary act of being Black and standing up against white supremacy during the Civil Rights Era often resulted in tragedy. The Black Panther Party: A Graphic Novel History does justice to their story in ways the history books could not.