Friday, June 10, 2011

James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems

James Sturm is a comics artist and director of The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. He has created a number of other graphic novels, many with a historical bent, such as Satchel Page: Striking Out Jim Crow. and Market Day. In a more contemporary vein, he produced a series of columns and cartoons for Slate about his attempts to quit the internet. He is respected for his work, having won a Xeric and Eisner Award. This interview with Tom Spurgeon informs about his recent work and activities.

This volume is a compendium of the following works:

The Revival - Set in 1810, this tale is about a giant tent revival in Kentucky that is emblematic of the Second Great Awakening. It centers on a couple attending the revival and their attempts to reconcile their faith with the death of an infant.

Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight - Set in the isolated mining town of Solomon's Gulch, Idaho in 1886, this tale concerns the greed, paranoia, and desperation of a dwindling number of miners striving to strike it rich.

The Golem's Mighty Swing - The lengthiest and last story chronicles a Jewish barnstorming baseball team in the 1920s. It follows the Stars of David and their rickety bus on a tour of the Midwest. They feature a sole black player, a member of the "lost tribe" who gets dressed up as a golem to increase theatrics. Civil rights and the players' treatment features strongly.

Sturm's craftsmanship and solid story-telling are highlighted in reviews. Andrew Wheeler credited Sturm for creating sharp dialogue and well-defined characters. JohnSeven wrote that the book displays a "great talent for emotionally honest stories told through straightforward means." Kirkus Reviews agrees, "It doesn’t take many words or strokes for Sturm’s graphic artistry to leave a lasting impression."

A pdf preview is available here from the book's publisher Drawn & Quarterly.

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