- Posted by Johanna on July 19, 2009 at 10:57 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by The Nelson Mandela Foundation with Umlando Wezithombe
- PUBLISHER: W.W. Norton; $19.95 US
Although created with every good intent, this is a horrible graphic novel.
It’s much too in awe of its subject, as you can see by the authors. It’s credited to “The Nelson Mandela Foundation”, and they certainly want their namesake to be seen in every best possible light. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the result is something that’s flat and boring, almost like a textbook. That matches its intent — to educate new, younger readers about this great man.
The text is overwritten and the art takes a far second place. It’s stiff and posed, with no sense of movement, too clearly based on photo reference. When asked to create intervening panels, without models, the faces can appear deformed or otherwise badly drawn. Reproduction is often dark, making it hard to read. Most of the panels are boring, just people talking or lengthy narrative captions.
Who created this is unclear, since the artists aren’t named, just a company that “produces accessible educational comic books”. (Originally, the comics were given away free to schools and newspapers.) The series collected here was originally published in 2005, so modern times aren’t really covered. The 2000s are summarized very briefly, with only 2003, 2004, and 2007 getting a page each, and nothing more recent.
Libraries and other institutions will likely appreciate having such a book, and students will use it for book reports and biographies because comics are more fun to read than prose. But that’s about the only use I can see for it. It’s not a pleasurable read for its own sake. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)