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Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures – Review

24 Jun

Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures

Writer/Artist – Yvan Algabé

Paperback -112 pages.  Publisher: New York Review Comics


The first thing I have to talk about regarding Yellow Negroes is the artwork. Yvan Algabé draws in a stark and vivid style reminiscent of José Muñoz, who drew Alack Sinner. But while Muñoz’s art sometimes came off as wet, filled with inky pools of darkness, Algabé’s art is dry, rough, and scratchy. The level of detail in the artwork is variable; what is rendered as an impressionistic blob in one panel may be a closely observed face in the next panel.

The story starts with Alaine, an immigrant from Benin, who works a small part-time job, hanging movie posters. Alaine shares and apartment with his sister, Martine, and another African named Sam. Although the setting is never named, my guess is that it’s Paris.

Alaine is dating a white woman named Claire. Claire is introduced in a scene driving her father around. Her dad is shocked and upset that Claire is dating a black man. The plot really gets going with the introduction of Mario, an older ex-military guy who has since worked for the National Police. He finds his way to Alaine and Martine’s apartment by ringing all the bells and asking everybody in the apartment building where the black people are. In their apartment, he talks non-stop, telling them his life story and inviting these strangers he met on the street somewhere to come over to his house for a Christmas dinner. He also tries to get one of them to work at his elderly mother’s house as a house cleaner, and promises to set them up with residency papers in exchange. This begins the pattern of the story, as Mario- an old, lonely French-Algerian man tries to push his way into the lives of Alaine and Martine.

One interesting thing that Algabe does is the way he chooses to fill in black areas. Some panels will be dark, with 50% of the area black, while other panels will be mostly outlines, with a few unpredictable areas filled in with black. One effects this has is that Algabé can focus the reader’s attention on certain details. While the visuals are rendered thoroughly enough to give a sense of a world beyond the panel frame, the variable style always keeps the reader aware that they are looking at drawings made by hand.

The characters are confined, hemmed, in and held together by the bonds between them, those units of chemical attraction formed by unspeakable feelings, feelings of duty, desire, disgust, and frustration. Alaine, Martine and Sam’s experiences with racism and the immigrant experience are shown, but not explicated. In a key moment, Alaine uncovers hidden knowledge of Mario’s past. From that point on, events tumble downwards toward irreversible consequences, but not necessarily towards the ends I expected.
Yellow Negroes is a powerful piece of work that mixes tense interpersonal scenes with lyrical passages of narration, either from Alaine’s POV or the POV of an omniscient narrator. The style of the storytelling can be kind of inaccessible, with abrupt scenes and unexpected style changes. I had to go back and read through parts again to make sure I was getting things right for this review. Despite this, it was both thought provoking and enjoyable for me.

It definitely packs a lot into 46 pages. The rest of the book features shorter stories with varying levels of fullness.

Highly Recommended.


Illustration Friday – Mischief

2 Feb


Here is my entry for the Illustration Friday word – mischief.  I wanted to try a color hold on this image, but I ended up having to use a more subtle color hold than I originally planned.  Photoshop crashed after I had the image all colored (a good reminder to save often!) but I think my second try at coloring came out better.

A novel take on trading cards

24 May

Today I was visiting with a friend, and she showed me a new site for sharing art that I hadn’t heard about.  The site is called NeonMob, and it combines the artist trading card phenomenon with the internet, and the gamified aspects of DeviantArt or LINE, where you can send you’re friends stickers and get rewarded for it.  In DA’s case that means llamas, and in LINE’s case it means emoji like stickers, and sticker packs.

Another interesting aspect of NeonMob is that artists can make money on the platform.  Here’s a look at what their homepage looks like.
neon_mob4.23_AM copy

Anyway, it might be worth a look for artists and fans.

Saving this for later

14 Dec

I’m just saving this for later.

cult movie mania dot com store envy

dusted magazine dot com (music)

jiggling dude – Animated gif!

14 Aug

Here is a new animated gif that I did.  Fun times playing around with this.


I hope you enjoy it.

Recent Webcomic Finds

5 Jun

Here are some recent webcomics that I’ve discovered.

Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag

I found Strong Female Protagonist when The Beat recently did their 24 hours of webcomics stunt.  SFP is a story in comic book format about a college-age girl who has adventures as a superhero until she decides being a superhero isn’t the best way to change the world for the better.  She continues on her do-gooding path, however, and they are some surprises, like befriending the dude she once considered a super-villain.  It’s a fun comic, with a lot of warmth and humanity.

Strong Female Protagonist issue cover

Tripp By Bill Taylor

Tripp follows the story of Tripp, who’s kind of a Joe Schmoe cubicle worker guy.  His life turns upside down when he’s visited by the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe.  The comic is full of romantic misadventures, visitors from outer space, and the emissaries of Hell, who want Poe to come back.  It reminds me of the 1980s indie comic The Trouble with Girls mixed with the tone of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.


Loading Artist by Gregor Czaykowski

Loading artist is a simple gag strip, without a continuing story.  I say that it’s simple, but it’s also very well done.  The jokes are actually funny,  and the art and color are appealing.  My favorite thing is the that the jokes are neither too vanilla or too full of the self-conscious crassness that the internet seems to love so much.  check it out.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 7.08.49 AM

Animated Gif

9 Mar


this is my first animated gif.  I was fooling around in Photoshop and I am also trying to figure out how to use the more tab.  I mean, the more tag.   Continue reading