The following review will appear in the Kwanzaa 2006 edition of 
Sisters Nineties magazine

Not Yer Granddaddy's Funny book

BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND MILES DAVIS
By Lance Tooks
75 Pages, NBM Publishing, $15.75

        "A pair of ghost giants/Keep me up nights with endless 
protests/Writing and Moaning in my ears as if there's a solitary 
thing that I can do to set them to rest.
        "If I were brave I'd step off in to the air right now.
        "Then there'd be three restless souls loose."
                        From Between the Devil and Miles Davis

 Say, "comic books" and most folks think 32 page pamphlets featuring 
the  four color adventures of tight-and-cape-wearing white guys 
flying around and beating each other up.   Since the 1960's that has 
been the dominant vision sold and promoted by the comic book 
industry  (not withstanding Giant Annuals or Black Panther, Luke 
Cage, Storm, Blade and the Milestone Crew, which some might argue 
are but Black versions of the same pre adolescent male power fantasy.
However since the 1970's graphic novels¬ólonger some times book 
length publications--have presented comics as serious art-- like 
Lance Tooks' Between the Devil and Miles Davis.
        Lance Tooks is a longtime comic book professional.  He has 
been assistant editor at Marvel comics, his comics have appeared in 
Zuzu, Shade and Girltalk. http://www.lancetooks.com/
        Between the Devil and Miles Davis is the fourth volume of 
his series Lucifer's Garden of Verses that, according to his 
publisher, NBM Publishing http://www.nbmpub.com/
 feature "the fictional character Lucifer". The heroine of Between 
the Devil and Miles Davis is Amo Tanzer, a chain smoking "hard-
bitten and cynical" bi sexual bi racial New York journalist who 
is "procrastinating at her next assignment, writing on Miles 
Davis".  After some Manhattan style journalist's adventures she 
winds up in a mysterious bar called the Smokery.
        The rest of the book is a sometimes surreal conversation, 
presented in short separately titled sections,  between her and 
Narcissa, the bar owner a black female character featured in Tooks' 
graphic novel  Narcissa, about the life and art of Miles Davis their 
own lives, attitudes, hopes and frustrations.
        Fans of Eric Jerome Dickey, Spike Lee, Jules Feiffer, the 
late Richard "Grass" Green, Los Bros Hernandez' and Harvey Pekar 
should like this book.  The art ranges from the cartoony to the 
realistic and detailed.  The writing is wry, culturally racially and 
politically conscious and so literate that you have to read it as 
closely as you do a novel.  
        This would be a perfect comic for The Village Voice.
 I most enjoyed "Acquanetta v Jack Johnson".  In that section 
Narcissa tells Amo the story of how her mother, an actress "in the 
years Before Spike" fought a losing battle to get more blacks into 
the film industry (was the little fascist director "who shot a film 
a year in the city yet refused to hire blacks for any positions in 
his productions" Woody Allen?)
        With this work as well as others Tooks no doubt seeks to 
make the comic form palatable to a broader audience and broaden the 
tastes of the comic audience.  I applaud his efforts, those of NBM 
Publishing and others in the comic industry who strive to make 
comics worthy of consideration as serious art.
        

Chris Hayden


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Click on the url below to visit the Sisters Nineties blogspot

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