“The summer I killed my father I was ten years old.”
From this intriguing beginning, our narrator, Eve Batiste (played as a 10-year-old by Jurnee Smollet-Ball) weaves a dream-like story of memories and visions from the summer of 1962.
The story begins at a party at Eve’s home, hosted by her parents, the charismatic Dr. Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson) and his wife Roz (Lynn Whitfield), “so beautiful men fought for the privilege of saying her name.” They are clearly the It couple in their community, and while Dr. Batiste dances with his older daughter Cisely (Meagan Good), Eve runs away in a snit and hides in the carriage house, where she falls asleep. When she wakes up some time later, she witnesses something she was never meant to see and does not fully understand. She reports this experience to her sister, who persuades her that she has, indeed, misunderstood the situation. From here on, doubts, mysteries and misunderstandings abound, and these are exactly what make the story so compelling.
There’s also some voodoo, and some psychic visions, and a possible curse, all of which may or may not be real, and all of which contribute to the exotic atmosphere of the Cajun bayou. The story is dark, although not without humor, and the movie itself is beautifully shot–the landscapes are beautiful, the actors are beautiful–and while some critics have seen this as a black version of a family drama, I would simply say it is a good family drama, and a refreshing change from movies about pretty white people.
Other recommendations for Black History Month can be found here.
The “graphic novel” is a contentious thing. Some people, perhaps even yourself, consider them to be nothing more than long comic books with little to contribute to literature or society, dimming the brains of our youth by not being “real” books. Others, conversely, find them rich and entertaining, a juxtaposition of artwork and prose that adds an artist’s layer of imagery onto a story apart from, or perhaps in addition to, the author’s. Some simply find them a great way to keep up with their favorite comics, as most comic publishers will bind 5 or 6 issues of their comic books into graphic novels for easy consumption.
Whatever your outlook on graphic novels is, it is undeniable that their existence has had a profound effect on media, both within and beyond literature. Did you know that many of the blockbuster movies of the past twenty years (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; The Dark Knight Rises; 300; A History of Violence; Sin City; The Adventures of Tintin; and so many more!) were at the very least influenced by graphic novels?
And graphic novels have also made lasting effects on characters we all know and love, too! After (and before) DC Comics’ Barbara Gordon was Batgirl she was the wheelchair-bound information broker Oracle, which came from the events in Alan Moore’s renowned graphic novel The Killing Joke. Looking for education in your graphic novels? Art Spiegelman’s masterpiece Maus is considered by many in academia to be an important opus of Holocaust literature, and there has been myriad research conducted around it.
Graphic novels can be so much more than entertaining, just like any other book. They can be thought-provoking and allegorical (like Moore’s V for Vendetta or Watchmen); they can be disturbing and frightening (such as Scott Snyder’s Wytches); they can be beautiful (Lee Bermejo’s artwork in Batman: Noel is breathtaking); and they can be for readers of all ages (Smile by Raina Telgemeier is a smash hit with kids, teens and adults alike at PPL). And they certainly don’t have to just be about superheroes!
In this monthly blog, I’m going to do my best to open your eyes to the world of graphic novels and comic books, sharing with you and the rest of the PPL community my thoughts and discussing books old and new that you can find on the shelves. With a year full of new superhero movies (Batman v Superman; Captain America: Civil War; X-Men: Apocalypse; Doctor Strange; et. al.), and with the resurgence of old “nerdy” franchises such as Star Wars and The X-Files in popularity, the prevalence of graphic novels in society is only going to grow.