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Nat Turner (Nat Turner #1-2)

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  415 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The story of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion—which began on August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia—is known among school children and adults. To some he is a hero, a symbol of Black resistance and a precursor to the civil rights movement; to others he is monster—a murderer whose name is never uttered.

In Nat Turner, acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker d
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Harry N. Abrams (first published June 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
Oct 10, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ariel
I bought and read this book because of three reasons: (1) it’s graphics and oh the illustrations are so exquisite looking; (2) the book looks a real bargain at P180 with the 280 thick glossy pages and (3) I have been vacillating in finally cracking my copy of 1967 Pulitzer Price-winning and Time 100 book, William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner open. Why? It seems like a daunting book to read: thick, historical and it has a picture of a black man looking over a horizon in a pensive mood t ...more
Nicolo Yu
It is said the great masters of the comic book art form can tell a complete story without the use of any dialogue and instead rely solely upon their visual storytelling skills. In his self-published graphic novel, Kyle Baker approaches such rarefied strata by using his powerfully expressive visuals to tell the story of Nat Turner, a once and former American slave, who achieved folk hero status since much of his story has been suppressed. One side sees him as a messiah figure and another as a mon ...more
Pronks
Nov 10, 2014 Pronks rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: African American Literature enthusiasts, Graphic Novel fans, American history enthusiasts
Recommended to Pronks by: Professor
Shelves: graphic-novels, poc
Unlike most graphic novels that I've read, Kyle Baker's "Nat Turner" features very little on the novel, and very heavy on the graphic; an aspect that I found to immensely enjoy in the book. Based entirely off of "The Confessions of Nat Turner," which details Turner's recount of his slave rebellion in 1831, filtered through lawyer Thomas Gray, the only text to be found in this book are taken directly from said transcript.

As previously mentioned, despite the distinct lack of text in most pages, th
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Joe
Jan 13, 2010 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Joe by: Marc Reiner
Shelves: graphic-novel
Oh man, can we talk?

This graphic novel was a very intense and worthwhile read. I was into comics as a kid, but graphic novels in the 21st century are of an entirely different make and model. Kyle Baker is a phenomenal artist in his own right, but the combination of just enough writing and his rich renderings still has me riveted. What a history lesson! And I can see why historians would have tried to squash this one. Given the time period, the last thing they would have wanted was a continual sl
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Chris
A brutal, unflinching look at Nat Turner. Mike Wallace may have used the title "The Hate that Hate Produced" when discussing the Nation of Islam, but it perfectly fits the story of Nat Turner, and this book captures the violence and bitterness of slavery and Turner's seething revenge. The illustrations are perfect, and the fact that 90 percent of the comic is wordless, with only a few quotes taken directly from "Confessions" makes it starkly haunting.
Mariah
This book is a super fast read, and not because there are a significant amount of graphics to text. Personally I enjoyed having to use my mind significantly more with the closure in this story compared to many other graphic novels I have read lately that has almost made me into an automaton when it comes to multiple panels with texts in them. Being able to fill in some of those gaps with my own imagination rather than what the next text bubble says really just give it that realistic feeling to m ...more
J.
Started VERY strong, very reminiscent of the old wordless books from Lynd Ward, etc. (The only words being small excerpts written by Turner himself.) If the book continued like that, this would be a real masterpiece, but when the big events start happening, we get panels and panels of violence and lists of who went where and killed whom. The interesting parts of the story got snowed under by the facts (although there are a few poignant moments even in the midst of the chaos.) So the brilliance o ...more
Diane
This is an incredible graphic novel about Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. The artwork is amazing -- it is the most haunting expression of slavery I've ever seen.

There are very few words, only some scattered quotes from Nat Turner's jailhouse interview and from a man who worked on slave ships, but the images are so arresting that I would often pause on a drawing for several minutes, spending more time on a single page with no words than if that page had been filled wit
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Erica Frazier
Nat Turner is a graphic novel that tells the story of an 1831 slave rebellion in Virginia. The narrative is well organized and compelling while it is also extremely horrifying and disturbing at times. It is not difficult for me to feel compassion for the slaves and feel disgust toward those that enslave them; however, I will be honest and confess that it makes me severely uncomfortable to cheer for a man who leads a group of people to do the things that the people in Turner's rebellion did. I am ...more
Megan
From what I've learned, there's not a lot known about Nat Turner, outside of his confession. Which, some historians can argue, might have been partly fabricated. What is known of Nat Turner is portrayed in two extremely biased ways. Those who think he was a villain, and those who think he was a hero, a man who set a stepping-stone in a path of revolution. And while it's awesome people have their own opinions, I myself have noticed it's a bit difficult to find work on Nat Turner that tells his st ...more
Daniel A.
It has been said that one benchmark of truly great storytelling in comics is whether the writer/artist—because in such stories (excepting a "stunt" that Marvel Comics published some time ago), that person is often one and the same—can tell an effective story without the use of words, only pictures. If that is indeed the benchmark, then veteran comics creator Kyle Baker has written, if not the apotheosis of such storytelling, something that comes very close.

Baker's work Nat Turner tells the true
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Danielle Huebner
An interesting visualization for the Nat Turner rebellion, an event that is either glossed over or romanticized in textbooks or retellings.

Although there are still a number of problematic representations that Baker uses through out his piece, Kyle Baker successfully fills in the lines of history with the drama, wrath, and violence of the antebellum south leading up to the Nat Turner slave rebellion.

Both visually and framework-wise, Baker does appear to perpetuate the common trope of women's eras
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Kristen
After reading the original confession, I'm upping this to four stars.
Baker does a excellent job of including and editing the original text (although mostly it is left intact) so as to best present Turner in his own words and Baker's illustrations capture the intensity of Turner without distortions.


Stewart Tame
Powerful stuff. The always excellent Kyle Baker takes on the story of the Nat Turner rebellion. The book looks hefty but reads quickly as Baker opts to tell the story largely as dialogue-free as possible. At this historical remove from the days of slavery, it's easy to distance oneself--"That was way before my time."--but by using images instead of words, Baker brings the reality and ugliness of slavery to life in ways that all the lessons learned in history class never could. This is a powerful ...more
Matt
This book is thoroughly disturbing. Kyle Baker uses his talent for facial and bodily expressions to make funny things like Plastic Man and Do These Toys Belong Somewhere? And here he takes that talent and makes all the disgust of slavery brutally apparent in a few images.
There's a lot of historical facts that seem bewildering compared to today's culture: using drums and books was punishable by whipping or dismemberment? I prob. knew that already, but Baker's good at making it seem shocking.
Nat
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Jacobi
I've been thinking about this book, off and on, since I finished it. It's rare that a comic has this kind of effect on me. I love me some Batman, but most of his stories are popcorn. This was a steak dinner, with A1 sauce...and a hot towel.

The story of Nat Turner isn't one that is told, really told, in school. As Baker mentions in his introduction Turner is usually relegated to a paragraph in most history books,if that, but most all of us know his name and know he was important.

Well, Nat Turne
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Jonathan Haukaas
Kyle Baker takes a piece of literature that by most is neither understood nor fully appreciated, and employs a genre of entertainment usually reserved for super-heroes and Sunday morning papers. His goal in doing this is to use the effect of graphic novels to persuade the readers away from the stereotypical assumptions that precede the story of Nat Turner. Baker understood that the literature was becoming lost on an educational level, as well as among lay readers. As an artist he saw the opportu ...more
Chris
This was an interesting read. I left it feeling unsure of the message the author wished to convey. If it's supposed to be a mirror of how brutal slavery was, I'm totally on board. If the author is justifying what happened to the people who were murdered... eh. Not so much. I'm opposed to the death penalty, let alone mob killings of women and children (including infants).

However, it certainly painted a vivid picture of Nat Turner. The author laments that people don't know much about him, and don'
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Andrew
A dramatic, compelling, and very subjective adaptation/illustration of the Nat Turner rebellion. Fans of historical fiction, graphic novels, and the like should read Baker's book. The interweaving of Gray's account with the illustrations makes for effective, dramatic story-telling.

My gripe:

Baker clearly states in his preface that Tuner is "my hero." This early admission ultimately taints the adaptation/illustrations. I recognize that it's his statement, his work of artistic expression. But it ad
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anthony e.
Kyle Baker's artwork never disappoints, but his grasp of the inherent humanity of an event so fraught with turmoil and bloodshed betrays a deftness of writing that is, while not exactly new, note-worthy.

The real gift of this work is two-fold: the use of Turner's own words to narrate events, rather than the fabricated dialogue of traditional comic story-telling, and the almost silent telling of the story. In fact, I think there are only a handful of places where word balloons are utilized, and on
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Monique
This book provides a quick insight into an untold story, an unsaid history, of a slave uprising and its leader, Nat Turner. The images give visual and social context to The Confession of Nat Turner. But the dark and bloody tale is "sketched" over with a rapidity that is, at times, hard to follow, seeming to indicate that there is a wider and more endemic silence here that needs to be recovered in both visual and verbal social memory.
Tom
This book is gorgeous. The design of the panels and the entire aesthetic is so well executed. The sepia coloring and art drive the narrative so efficiently that there isn't any need for text. Much of the text is derived straight from the Confessions of Nat Turner, which was dictated from a prison cell. It really makes me want to read the entire account. Nat Turner combined a meticulous plan with a prophetic/messianic aura that created an relatively effective strike force for people with no milit ...more
Rob
(7/10) An evocative work of nonfiction comics that adapts the short "confession" of Nat Turner into a full-length, largely silent graphic novel. There's an undeniable power to the images, accented by Baker's sketchy but photorealistic art, that manages to capture both the horrors of slavery and the brutal violence of Turner's rebellion. However, as a whole this didn't make too big of an impression on me -- silent comics can work great (see The Arrival) but here it just seemed like something was ...more
John
African slave catchers were often paid with guns, which gave them an advantage over other tribes armed with only bows and spears.
2 out of 5 captives did not survive the forced march to the coast, a journey of up to one thousand miles on foot.
Packs of hungry sharks routinely followed slave ships, to feast on the hundreds of dead bodies that went overboard.
It is estimated that about 20% of the captives died in the rat-infested ships.
Many laws such as the Mississippi Black Codes outlawed drums, whi
...more
Damon
For me, there's 2 ways to look at this book. As a graphic adaptation of the story of Nat Turner, it's fairly effective, and pretty powerful stuff. But as a Kyle Baker book, it's far from my favorite. He works in a lot of different styles which, I guess, suit differing subject matter in different ways. But I prefer his older, clean-line, funny stuff. Don't get me wrong - this is good, but it's no Cowboy Wally.
I don't mean to dismiss this work's merits, though - I'm a huge fan of graphic storytel
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Rahadyan
Nat Turner's 1831 insurrection happened not very long after the Java War led by a childhood hero of mine, Prince Diponegoro. I thought about that while reading Kyle Baker's graphic novel (originally published in four issues in 2006). As well, I recalled stories of my (Filipino) mother's cousin Jesus Casianan avenging my aunt Angelica's murder at the hands of the Japanese during the Occupation; and the members of my father's (Indonesian) family who were active in the resistance movements against ...more
Jennifer
This book is one of those interesting graphic novels that somewhat stretches the genre. The story is mostly wordless and told in pictures, interspersed with excerpts from Turner's actual confession. As Baker states in the preface, he partially chose this story because it offers opportunities for very dramatic storytelling through pictures, which he highlights with very strong composition. The sepia-toned art is an interesting hybrid, with some echoes of 19th-century drawing but a strong comics l ...more
Melody
Beautiful, beautiful artwork! Reads like a history movie but with way more emotion and horror. This style is how all black people should be illustrated in graphic novels. Love the bits from Turner's slave narrative. Will be reading the rest as quickly as possible
Chazzbot
Turner's story is told here almost entirely in images, with occasional captions taken from Turner's own words. Baker's art, which sometimes comes across as cartoonish, is surprisingly well-suited to this tale, and the monochromatic coloring adds a level of realism that Baker's art rarely achieves. The expressions of rage and mania on some of the characters' faces here are particularly haunting, as they should be. This indictment of the slave trade provides new and powerful insight into the histo ...more
Moose
Some of the pictures simply because of the art style and dark subject matter make it overly objective or difficult to picture what is happening. Overall, the narrative is very well laid out and interesting. Quick read with historical relevance.
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