From its very first image, Johnson’s graphic novel grabs you. And I would emphasize both of the words – graphic and novel. There are a handful of images that are pretty tough to look at, but Johnson is not tackling an easy topic here – lynching. I think it deserves to be called a novel because there is, in my limited experience with the genre, a tremendous amount of plot.
There are several places where the art (provided by Warren Pleece) and language work together to create powerful art (18-19). And the line, “Just because I play the fool sometimes doesn’t mean I am one” (37, emphasis his) is challenging to unpack. And there’s an exchange between a mother and child (103) that sets you moving in one direction in the first frame and then explodes your hopes in the next.
This is a well-put together piece. The characters are well-drawn. I was impressed by Johnson’s characterization of the sheriff, among others.
Read it. Be ready, but read it (including the author’s note).