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Bass Reeves


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About the Author

Joel Christian Gill is the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. He wrote the words and drew the pictures in Strange Fruit, Volume I: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History and Bass Reeves: Tales of the Talented Tenth. The allegations that he ghost wrote Hamlet, The Voynich manuscript, and started The Great Chicago Fire are completely unfounded. He also believes that #28daysarenotenough when it comes to black history. Joel received his MFA from Boston University and a BA from Roanoke College. His secret lair is behind a secret panel in the kitchen of his house (sold separately) in New Boston, New Hampshire where he lives with his wife, four children, talking dog, and two psychic cats. To learn more about Joel Christian Gill see the beginning of this paragraph.


Gill ("Strange Fruit" ) launches the "Tales of the Talented Tenth" series, about notable figures in African-American history, with an entry outlining the life of Bass Reeves, among the first black Deputy U.S. Marshals. Over seven chapters, Gill skillfully shifts (and draws parallels) between Reeves s childhood as a slave and his adult service as a marshal; two hard-hitting motifs are a menacing, avian Jim Crow figure and a pickaninny caricature, the latter used as a rebus-style replacement for racial epithets in the dialogue [...] A bibliography is included for readers seeking to learn more about Reeves. Ages 12up. (Nov.) - "Publisher's Weekly"
Wonderful biography of the black US Marshall, born a slave, who became the most successful lawman of the West and legend has it the stories of the Lone Ranger are based on him. The author's previous book, Strange Fruit, contains a mini-biography on Bass Reeves and this book takes the same story, expounds upon it and fills in more details. An interesting, informative and exciting tale of a man not that well known to history. Looking forward to seeing who the next volume will be about. - Nicola Mansfield, "It's All Comic To Me" blog
Gr 7 UpExpanding upon the short entry that appeared in his Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History (Fulcrum, 2014), Gill opens his new graphic novels series on African American heroes with a volume about Bass Reeves, a former slave and the first black U.S. Marshall. With alternating full-page spreads and varied panels, the tale switches between 1902 (during his time as a lawman) and the 1840s (when Reeves first learned how to shoot as an enslaved child). The narrative details Reeves s adventures as his master s prized possession, eventual escape, experiences living with Native Americans, fighting for the North in the Civil War, and then as a rough and tough officer of the law (rumored to be the inspiration for The Lone Ranger). The folkloric, tall tale tone of the text is enhanced by the earthy illustrations and the pictographs that serve as substitutes for racial slursa blackface-type head for the n-word and an American Indian in headdress for redskins. Even more striking is a man-size crow character who symbolizes Jim Crow racism and practices of the time and plagues the subject throughout his life. Time jumps are sometimes confusing, as the color schemes of the two time lines are similar, but the format, unique perspective, and back matter make this title a prime candidate for school reports, strengthening American history collections, and reluctant readers of biographies. A much-needed offering and perspective. Shelley Diaz, "School Library Journal"
Winner of the East Coast Black Age of Comic Convention's 2015 Glyph Comics Awards for Best Male Character.
Featured in the "Los Angeles Times"' 2014 Holiday Gift Guide
U.S. Deputy Marshal, Bass Reeves, is the subject of a forthcoming miniseries from HBO
Joel Christian Gill places Reeves directly in reality, and does not try to underplay his place in society as a black man and the relentless way the world reminded him of his color in order to keep him in place in even the most casual of interactions. John Seven of the "Vermicious" blog
Based on little-known but true events, this is a story of action, honor and the Wild West. That s very good, but what equally appealed to me was the way author Gill uses his artist s skills to tell this tale. The illustrations here are fully half the story; they entertain as they inform, and they re even a little sassy, with dark characters and icons as dialogue.This is a book for teens or adults, including reluctant or struggling 12- to 17-year-olds for whom reading sometimes seems inaccessible. - Terri Schlichenmeyer of "The Bookworm Sez"
Gill s graphic novel series is a tool with which to discuss African Americans, social justice and a shared history. "The Philadelphia Tribune"

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