Out now is the new graphic novel by Jim Sturm and Rich Tommaso, Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. It’s a well crafted book with an excellent narrative and intensely emotive art. James Sturm, who sometimes worries about being pigeonholed as “the baseball guy” of comics blends together elements of history and fiction into a masterful narrative that is intensely engrossing and involving. Sturm breathes life into the brutal methodology of the pre-civil rights South, while at the same time showing an innate human understanding of what it meant to swallow your dignity in order to protect your life and your loved ones.
Using painstaking attention to detail and reference upon reference Rich Tommaso showed his skill as not merely an illustrator, but a true visual interpreter. Rich’s mastery of dry brush inking techniques married with an honest understanding of form and line give a weight to his storytelling. With only a three color palate Rich, James and Joe (Lambert) manage to demonstrate an effect richer than sepia-tones yet more subtle than a mere four color substitute.
Satchel Paige will almost definitely win awards this year, if not from the Harvey, Eisner, and Ignatz set, then at least from the Black or educational literature cliques. I recommend that you do yourself a favor and read this book before everyone else beats you to it. Satchel Paige is a beautiful example of comics’ literature, and a fine example of the potential of what the moniker of Indy comics should aspire to. This is a graphic novel that overshadows the fleeting trends and clichÃƒÂ©s of the genre, more Pekar than Clowes.