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Cover image for Birth of a nation : a comic novel
Format:
Title:
Birth of a nation : a comic novel
ISBN:
9781400048595
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown Publishers, ©2004.
Physical Description:
ii, 137 pages : color illustrations ; 26 cm
Summary:
This scathingly hilarious political satire-produced from a collaboration of three of our funniest humorists-answers the burning question: Would anyone care if East St. Louis seceded from the Union? East St. Louis, Illinois ("the inner city without an outer city"), is an impoverished town, so poor that Fred Fredericks, its idealistic mayor, starts off Election Day by collecting the city's trash in his own minivan. But the mayor believes in the power of democracy and rallies his fellow citizens to the polls for the presidential election, only to find hundreds of them turned away for trumped-up reasons. Even sweet old Miss Jackson-not to mention the mayor himself-is denied the vote because her name turns up on a bogus list of felons. The national election hinges on Illinois's electoral votes and, as a result of the mass disenfranchisement of East St. Louis, a radical right-wing junta led by a dim-witted Texas governor seizes the Oval Office. Prodded by shady black billionaire and old friend John Roberts, Fredericks devises a radical plan of protest: East St. Louis will secede from the Union. Roberts opens an "offshore" bank (albeit in the heart of the U.S.) to finance the newly liberated country, and suddenly East St. Louis becomes the Switzerland of the American heartland, flush with money. It also begins to attract a motley circus of idealistic young militants, OPEC-funded hitmen, CIA operatives, tabloid reporters, and AWOL black servicemen eager to protect and serve the new nation. Problems set in almost immediately: Controversies rage over the name and national anthem of the new country (they decide on the Republic of Blackland with an anthem sung to the tune of the theme from Good Times), and local thug Roscoe becomes a warlord and turns his gang into a paramilitary force. When the U.S. military begins to move in, Fredericks is forced to decide whether his protest is worth taking all the way. Birth of a Nation starts with a scenario drawn from the botched election of 2000 and spins it into a brilliantly absurd work of sharply pointed satire. Along the way the authors lay into a host of hot social and cultural issues-skewering white supremacists, black nationalists, and everyone in between-drawing real blood and real laughs in equal measure in this riotous send-up of American politics.
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Summary

Summary

This scathingly hilarious political satire--produced from a collaboration of three of our funniest humorists--answers the burning question: Would anyone care if East St. Louis seceded from the Union? East St. Louis, Illinois ("the inner city without an outer city"), is an impoverished town, so poor that Fred Fredericks, its idealistic mayor, starts off Election Day by collecting the city's trash in his own minivan. But the mayor believes in the power of democracy and rallies his fellow citizens to the polls for the presidential election, only to find hundreds of them turned away for trumped-up reasons. Even sweet old Miss Jackson--not to mention the mayor himself--is denied the vote because her name turns up on a bogus list of felons. The national election hinges on Illinois's electoral votes and, as a result of the mass disenfranchisement of East St. Louis, a radical right-wing junta led by a dim-witted Texas governor seizes the Oval Office. Prodded by shady black billionaire and old friend John Roberts, Fredericks devises a radical plan of protest: East St. Louis will secede from the Union. Roberts opens an "offshore" bank (albeit in the heart of the U.S.) to finance the newly liberated country, and suddenly East St. Louis becomes the Switzerland of the American heartland, flush with money. It also begins to attract a motley circus of idealistic young militants, OPEC-funded hitmen, CIA operatives, tabloid reporters, and AWOL black servicemen eager to protect and serve the new nation. Problems set in almost immediately: Controversies rage over the name and national anthem of the new country (they decide on the Republic of Blackland with an anthem sung to the tune of the theme from Good Times), and local thug Roscoe becomes a warlord and turns his gang into a paramilitary force. When the U.S. military begins to move in, Fredericks is forced to decide whether his protest is worth taking all the way. Birth of a Nation starts with a scenario drawn from the botched election of 2000 and spins it into a brilliantly absurd work of sharply pointed satire. Along the way the authors lay into a host of hot social and cultural issues--skewering white supremacists, black nationalists, and everyone in between--drawing real blood and real laughs in equal measure in this riotous send-up of American politics.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Boondocks creator McGruder, filmmaker Hudlin and Why I Hate Saturn cartoonist Baker are a kind of dream team, and this work (drawn in Baker's animation-storyboard style) has a fairly hilarious premise. When the virtually all-black population of East St. Louis, Ill., is disenfranchised en masse in electoral shenanigans that result in a George W. Bush-like Texan governor being elected president, the impoverished city decides to secede from the U.S. Renaming itself "Blackland," the city becomes a wildly rich money-laundering capital. Baker is a gifted caricaturist-every facial expression and bit of body language he comes up with is funny-and the first two-thirds of the book is loaded with witty riffs (a national anthem to the tune of the Good Times theme; a fight over whether Tupac or Biggie should be on the nickel) and slyly ferocious jabs at institutional racism and a certain commander-in-chief. The final act, though, falls apart. The U.S. going to war with Blackland over a new alternative energy source should be a natural for comedy, but it bogs down in too-serious drama and a non sequitur battle. even McGruder and Hudlin's snappy dialogue loses steam. The work has the air of an unproduced film treatment-a terrific concept with some impressive talent behind it but not enough follow-through to make it completely satisfying. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

A Texas governor wins the presidency when some 1,000 blacks are barred from voting because of phony felony convictions, and the Supreme Court endorses that outcome. So the mayor of East St. Louis, home of the disfranchised, takes the famously poor, black-majority burg out of the union. With money from one old pal (now a billionaire) and the prowess of another (now a jet-fighter pilot) and administrative aid from the youthful New African People's Party and, heading the new nation's military, gang boss Roscoe, Mayor Fred Fredericks, first seen collecting trash in lieu of a bankrupt sanitation department, keeps pulling rabbits out of hats throughout an unpredictable, frequently hilarious satire reminiscent of the great 1940s moviemaker Preston Sturges' best stuff. In fact, film writer-director Reginald Hudlin brainstormed the story with The Boondocks 0 comic strip creator McGruder as a prospective movie, turning, after big-fish producers failed to bite, to ace comics artist Kyle Baker for this graphic novel, which, despite screenplay origins that have been incompletely sanded down, remains highly entertaining. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist


Library Journal Review

When hundreds of its black citizens, including the mayor, are mistakenly listed as felons and denied the right to vote, the presidential candidate they oppose wins by a tiny margin. As a result, the impoverished city of East St. Louis says "toodle-oo" to the United States and declares itself the independent country of Blackland. James Brown, Malcolm X, and Will Smith are pictured on the currency; the national anthem is sung to the theme of "Good Times." With the U.S. government breathing down his neck and his people complaining that electricity, postal service, and welfare have been cut off, Mayor/President Fred Fredericks must try to hold things together, aided by an outside revolutionary group, a billionaire, and the local crime boss. This hilarious, satirical comedy/drama was first written by cartoonist McGruder (The Boondocks) and film director Hudlin (House Party) as a screenplay, but when backing was not forthcoming, they enlisted Baker (Why I Hate Saturn) to illustrate it as a full-color graphic novel. Baker's exaggerated, comical cartoony style (think Mad magazine) fits and enhances the story very well. Language and sexual innuendo make this best for older teens and adults, for whom it is highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.