“Josephine Baker,” by various
3 star , biography , graphic novel , non-fiction / October 15, 2018

“Josephine Baker” is a graphic novel written by José-Louis Bocquet, illustrated by Catel Muller, and translated into English by Edward Gauvin. It’s an ambitious tome, large enough to prop open a door, and covers her life from birth to death. Baker lead a very full and exciting life, however, which makes capturing it all in one book difficult. “Josephine Baker” works best as an introduction to her life, an opening of the door for other works that cover specific aspects of her life like her activism or spy efforts, for instance. Unfortunately it’s just a bit too much to cram into one book, leaving it feeling rushed and superficial. The art, in black and white, is a bit uneven. Baker and most figures are cartoonish, rendered in brushwork that’s beautiful but blunt. Other figures are drawn in a way that’s recognizable. We can see who they are immediately. One would think that Baker, the main subject of the book, would have similar treatment but no: her depiction remains cartoonish and often interchangeable with other female characters. Some of the lines of motion when people are dancing are lovely and graceful, but other times the dancers look like monkeys… which, when…