Of the two copies of "The Original Johson" ordered, one arrived with a cover crumpled in one corner, due to bad packing. Fortunately, it was repairable. However, it should have been packed with much better care. I happen to be the writer/artist of the book, btw--and I received a most unpleasant surprise, upon opening the package.
The first volume of The Original Johnson, Trevor Von Eeden's graphic novel biography of boxing champion John Arthur Johnson, was released in late 2009. After some delay, the second half of Von Eeden's portrait of Jack finally saw print in early 2011.
Book two opens with a brief history of boxing from it's inception in England in 1719 up to the status of the sport in the early days of the Twentieth Century, when Jack was active in it. For someone such as myself, who was unfamiliar with boxing and its major figures, this info was very useful.
Von Eeden observes that Jack Johnson's quest to become the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world was fraught with obstacles. Johnson lived in an era when, unfortunately, African Americans were regarded by a significant portion of the population as both physically & mentally deficient. Many boxers were resistant, if not outright hostile, to the idea of facing a black opponent. Undoubtedly at least some of these individuals were driven by a deep-rooted subconscious fears of how their reputations and their own self-images would be shattered if they were defeated in the boxing ring by a black man, someone who was supposedly "inferior."
Von Eeden devotes a good portion of Book Two to Jack Johnson's encounter with lovely millionaire heiress Dominique St. John, much of it illustrated with splash pages and double page spreads. The subsequent boxing matches between Johnson and first Tommy Burns then James Jeffries for the world championship are told within a sequence of tiny, almost claustrophobic panels. It is a strange choice.Read more ›
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