(H)afrocentric Comics in Publishers Weekly— Starred Review

(H)afrocentric Comics: Volumes 1–4

Publishers Weekly
January 2018

This timely and humorous but flawed collection follows the trials and tribulations of six young people of color navigating structural racism, intra-community strife, and capitalism in modern America. Undergraduate revolutionary Naima devises a 21st-century fix for gentrification: a website where “black folks can up and exodus” when white people become too much to handle. With help from a crew of friends—not all of whom are sold on her politics—Naima puts on a block party to fund her site and stop a neighborhood icon from being evicted, but soon must face the unintended consequences of her activism. The plot abruptly shifts to magical realism in the final chapter. Within a relentlessly goofy send-up of the self-absorbed progressive movement/lifestyle, Smith looks to inspire readers to take strong political stances and keep their senses of humor.. Nelson’s character design is, in places, disturbingly uncanny and stiff, while Hampton’s unintuitive lettering and balloon placement make the reader labor to tell who’s talking and in what order. There’s a charming spirit and guiding intelligence at work, with messages for readers of all identities to chew on, but the uneven execution will limit its reach.

Back to Juliana “Jewels” Smith’s Author Page