Aftershock Comics 2021
Written by Peter Calloway
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty
Coloured by Juanchoi
Lettered & Backmatter Design by Charles Pritchett
Years in the making, this is the true story of writer Peter Calloway’s grandfather, Nathaniel Calloway, a Black man who graduated from medical school in the early 1930’s. Unable to get work at any Chicago hospitals because he was Black, and unable to secure a loan from a bank to start his own practice because he was Black, he turned to another source of money in Prohibition-era Chicago: the Mafia, run by none other than Al Capone.
I would have been incredibly impressed with this even if it hadn’t been based on his family but that it is and Peter is chronicling his family history in comics is absolutely, completely and utterly phenomenal. Well I have to say I am already in love with this story and mainly because of when and where it’s being set. The opening doesn’t prepare you for what’s to come but that’s find because the first two pages are extraordinary in how they manage to capture the readers’ attention. We are drawn into this very quickly and it doesn’t really register how involved and invested you are in this until the book is over, which makes you sad because you want to know more.
The way that this is being told is pretty brilliant. The story & plot development we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented exquisitely well. The circumstances where Nathaniel is telling his son this story is a little heartbreaking but it’s also the perfect time to come clean. It’s kind of funny because I can totally relate this as my mother’s father had a bar in the Bronx and his “friends” got him his liquor license because he couldn’t get one, mother said they were connected. The character development we see is completely spot on because I believe in who these people are and how genuine they come across. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing the story, the characters and this world is impeccably done.
The way that this is structured and how the layers within the story emerge we are reminded that real life is much stranger than fiction. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow is beautifully done. This really is a pure treat of a read and it doesn’t get much better than this.
The interiors here are sensational! The linework is utterly beautiful and how the varying weights and techniques we see being utilised to create the detail in the work we’re seeing is fabulous! The imagery is so amazingly rendered that we can see how innocent he is in his youth and with the clothes and cars we see how much research went into making this as realistic as possible. That we see backgrounds as we do with how they enhance the moments and bring us such great depth perception, sense of scale and that overall sense of size and scope to the book. The utilisation of the page layouts and how they show the angles and perspective in the panels show a stellar eye for storytelling. The colour work is utterly gorgeous! How we see the various hues and tones within the panels being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is expertly rendered.
There is something very special about our own family history that for many of us we just think that’s our family, nothing special. But the reality is what is normal for us is going to be something else to an outsider and it’s going to be nearly larger than life to hear what we consider normal. This is superb example of that and even more so that the first issue comes out at this time of the year, black history month and all. This could a feature film or one of the movies of the week and this doesn’t even do it justice. This is THE book of week that you’ll need to be reading.