cover image Where I’m Coming From

Where I’m Coming From

Barbara Brandon-Croft. Drawn & Quarterly, $29.95 (276p) ISBN 978-1-77046-568-8

Brandon-Croft, the first Black woman with a nationally syndicated American comic strip, delivers a spirited career compilation cut through with razor-sharp wit. Debuting in the Detroit Free Press in 1989, Brandon-Croft’s strip featured a cast of opinionated, wisecracking Black women (drawn with varied expressions, hair styles, skin tones, and tones of voice) relaying everyday life and unfiltered social commentary. This trademark sisterhood of talking heads chatted at the nation through 2005, including syndication in Essence and the Baltimore Sun. For example, feminist Lekesia skewers racial bias and sex scandals in the military, quipping: “I think this country needs to change its recruitment slogan to Uncle Sam wants you... to behave!” No topic escapes critique, from education to dating woes to workplace inequality and voting. The unabashed sarcasm and upbeat playfulness are infectious, while the cast are carefully distinguished with a flip of a hand or a pointed gaze. Snappy dialogue competes for space next to twisted, braided, and coiled hair atop the heads that dominate the panels. The humor befits its era, with references newsy to the 1990s, such as reflections on Rodney King and Clarence Thomas, but the underlying themes hold uncanny relevancy to contemporary America. This trenchant volume easily sits alongside works from contemporary heavyweight Black cartoonists such as Aaron McGruder and Ray Billingsley. (Feb.)