In the turbulent era of late 1950s Manhattan?with jazz, the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, and the Red Scare as the volatile ingredients?three groundbreaking black cartoonists defy convention and pay the price. Cliff Murphy is matinee handsome, a light-skinned, straight-haired black man and a comics artist known for his glamour girl art. He’s black uptown and white downtown, and he has an eye for the ladies, and they for him?including his boss’ wife, who knows Cliff’s creation, the Phantom Avenger, is about to be stolen from him.
Stephaney “Stef” Rawls has her own romance-adventure strip for the largest black newspaper, but she still has to work brutal hours as a maid to make ends meet. But when she gets a lucrative offer to write and draw a “Negroes must reject agitation” flyer for the FBI, can she pass up the opportunity?
Then there’s Oliver “Ollie” Jefferson, a decorated Korean War vet who writes and draws editorial cartoons under the pseudonym Attucks, for the daily Red newspaper The Struggle. But when a cop beats him down while walking his pregnant Korean wife-to-be home one night, Ollie becomes a symbol of oppression and the streets threaten to explode.
These three friends will be tested and tried, will work in solidarity, and, just maybe, betray each other, in this explosive graphic novel?with prose by crime fiction author Gary Phillips and images by acclaimed artist-writer Dale Berry.
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