Thursday, February 07, 2008


I recently had occasion to exchange an email or two with artist Trevor Von Eeden, and he passed these scans along to me of his latest work-in-progress: an ambitious-sounding biography of boxer Jack Johnson in which he not only plans to detail the man's life, but also comment on the issue of racial strife in our country. In his words:

My book will be the first about America's first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson--that was NOT written by a white man! It's my view of American Racism--from the p.o.v. of one man, who conquered Racist Early America--simply because he, himself was NOT racist! Most books talk about Jack's material successes. Mine will be about the reason behind those successes.

My book is intended to show that the heady narcotic of self-delusion that is racism, hurts BOTH the racist and his victim. An entire country bet money against the giant Jack Johnson, in favor of first Tommy Burns--a midget who was half Jack's size, then Jim Jeffries--an old man past his prime, simply because they were white, and Jack was black. I look at the films of the Burns fight, when Jack won the title, and I still can't believe that any man in his right mind would even consider betting on Burns to win! But they did--an entire country did. That's how much racism can distort a man's perception of even the most basic facts of reality.

My book deals with the solution to racism--Humanity. As far as I'm concerned, EVERY human being represents the Human Race. You can be human, or you can be racist. Simple. It's about choice, not color. "Black" racists are just as vile as "white" racists.

Here's the last sentence in Jack's Autobiography--and the reason I chose to write about him: "As I look back on the life I've led, and compare it to the lives of my contemporaries, I feel that mine has been a full life, and above all, A HUMAN LIFE." My emphasis on the last three words. That's the man I'm writing about.

To the best of my knowledge, this is one of, if not THE first, attempts at scripting by Von Eeden, and more than the art in the samples above, which is some of the most committed I've seen from him since the 1980's, it's his writing that impresses me- it's not overheated or excessive, and it gets across what he's trying to say very well. As I understand it, it's going to be 240 pages, and will be serialized at ComicMix- hopefully, it will someday see print.

Thanks to TVE for passing it along, and giving me permission to post these images.

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