Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography
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Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Assassinated at age forty in 1965. Malcolm X battled the horrifying legacy of African American slavery throughout his short life. Malcolm's passage from troubled boy to influential, outspoken man and finally to tragic hero is captured in the drawings of the award-winning graphic artist Randy DuBurke, and the heartrending history of the era is distilled to its essence by An...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published November 14th 2006 by Hill and Wang (first published 2006)
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Not too long after finishing Americanah, I chanced upon this graphic novel when perusing my local digital library. Conceptually, I love the idea of a graphic biography and (this is where the Americanah thing becomes relevant) was particularly interested to see how one might take on a racially-charged discourse. Given the amazing, iconic images of the Civil Rights movement, my expectations were pretty high.

As you may have guessed from my dearth of stars, I was a bit disappointed. First of all, I...more
Miroku Nemeth
First off, Helfer basically attacks Malcolm's own narrative of his life from the first page—even the first paragraph--of the "Autobiography" by asserting that Malcolm's "mother, for her part, had no memory of the events" of her being threatened by the KKK at their Nebraska home when he was in the womb(7). In a further thinly veiled attack on Malcolm's credibility, he tries to undermine Malcolm's assertion that his father was murdered by adding in an alternative possibility that he slipped and fe...more
This was not the worst biography that I have had to sit myself through, but it was the hardest 102 pages of my life. This may have been because I read this while I was on my youth group's annual 30-hour maybe my hunger was blinding me from the greatest biography of my life, but maybe not. Everyone should know the story of Malcolm X, but if not just a quick run through, he was kind of a back slider that found religion (specifically the Islamic faith). He originally follows the Nation...more
Tony Cafiso
Malcolm X: a graphic biography was an overview of Malcolm's life. It talks about him traveling to mecca and discovering the true Islamic faith after he was expelled from the Nation of Islam, then his assassination. The art was black and white and the text did not have much interaction with the pictures, being in boxes or bubbles the same way the entire time. I thought the book was boring but I am not a huge history buff so it might recommend it to someone who is.
Andrae Mcconnell
This is the only graphic biography I have ever read, but I think that the graphic novel, as a genre, will really benefit from the sub genre of graphic biography, especially if it is goin to make a bid for a place in teacher's curriculum. I really appreciate this fresh look at the life o fone of the most recognizable figures in history. For such a brief text Helfer does an amazing job of capturing the major events in Malcolm's life as well as showing how some of the less publicized events and rel...more
This comic is used more to tell the life of Malcolm X. Since I have never been very fond of history, this was extremely boring to me. It was hard for me to read this comic. If you are a fan of history then you may like this comic, but if you don't really care for it don't pick this up. I would recommend this comic mainly to people who like history and want to learn more about Malcolm X.
This graphic novel is primarily intended for young adult audiences, and would likely provide a good introduction to the life and work of Malcolm X. For any other reader, however, I cannot recommend this book in place of X's autobiography, one of the most important books of the late 20th century. To its credit, this graphic novel does provide a comprehensive summary of the autobiography. In terms of artistic achievement, Randy DuBurke's charcoal renderings are a perfect fit, though they are often...more
Malcolm X: A graphic Biography, was a very interesting book that allowed the reader to be filled with knowledge and not be bored because of the graphics it displayed. I believe the book was a good read and covered Malcolm X's life from beginning to end without missing any sort of important parts.
Helfer described Malcolm's life in detail, from the day he was born till the aftershock of his passing, and opened the readers eyes by showing them the hard life he lived filled with racism. Malcolm w...more
First of all, the idea of a graphic biography is phenomenal. I understand that this is one but after reading Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography I am eager to read more. One may think that graphic biographies would take away from the relevant information but in reality the graphics just add to them and make them all the more exciting, especially for someone as outspoken and courageous as Malcolm X. Biographies are so long and can be boring like the very popular Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Hale...more
A biographical account of the life of Malcolm X, done in the style of a comic book, covering events in his life from his childhood with an abusive father and mentally-ill mother, to his adolescence in Harlem and Detroit, his imprisonment during which he converted to Islam, and his tumultuous and ultimately sad realizations while a member of the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.).

Pinpoints how critical Malcolm's adolescent experiences were to the development of his beliefs, which would be easily recogniza...more
This was great. (I mean, in a way that's sad, and not full of rollicking adventure or fantasy.) I don’t read a lot of biography or nonfiction about recent events, and while I certainly knew Malcolm X’s name, I was far from clear on what role he played in the civil rights movement. (I also knew he was assassinated, but had no idea why.)

The illustrations were clear, compelling, and dramatic, and the composition of the pages made it easy to navigate the panels and understand the action.

The tension,...more
Hefler, A. and DuBurke, R. (2006). Malcolm X: A graphic biography. New York:
Serious Comics.
Nonfiction. Biography. Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography was selected as one of the Best Books for Young adults 2008, and one of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2008 by the Young Adult Library Services Association. The book explores the history of the mid- 20th century through the eyes of Malcolm X, who had a confrontational approach to racism, as opposed to Martin Luther King, who advocated for nonviol...more
NSAndrew Liebergen
Oct 15, 2009 NSAndrew Liebergen is currently reading it
Shelves: graphic-novels
The age of multitasking needs better narrative history. It must be absolutely factual, immediately accessible, smart, and brilliantly fun. Enter Andrew Helfer, the award-winning graphic-novel editor behind Road to Perdition and The History of Violence, and welcome the launch of a unique line of graphic biographies.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, these graphic biographies qualify as tomes. But if you’re among the millions who haven’t time for another doorstop of a biography, these books a...more
Jul 29, 2011 Brandy added it
This book was interesting to read but the graphics didn't do anything for it. It did a good job portraying Malcolm X's internal struggles with the Nation of Islam and his shift in philosophy toward the end of his life (less racist; more peaceful). However, it didn't go into any depth on WHY Malcolm X was committed to the NOI as the path for helping Black Americans or into his more "confrontational/violent" advocacy. I left this book thinking that compared to all of the amazing female Black activ...more
George Marshall
Great art - a really nice balance between the graphic and the photographic. Well written too- one of the best graphic it was really good with a couple of caveats- firstly that, as other reviews say, it is too much of an illustrated text and lacking in conversations and dramatic moments. But secondly, whilst it makes a good job of telling his life story (working largely with the autoboigraphy) it does a poor job of explaining the lasting fame of Malcolm X=- what he said at that h...more
A very comprehensive biography of Malcolm X. He was a great man who's life was tragically cut short.
I hate to admit it - I knew nothing about Malcolm X except he was asassinated in the 1960's and that Denzel Washington played him in a movie. I had no idea about this man's incredible journey from small time hustler to advocate for racial equality. In this graphic novel, the intelligence of Malcolm shines forth, even when he decides to 'hustle'. The authors use black and white drawings which give it an old newspaper feel to the facts portrayed. When I finished, I was saddened over his death, bec...more
Liz McIrvin (Rolph)
For some reason in all my years of highschool i never learned about malcolm X. The first half of this book i couldn't understand why this man was famous. He was a gambler, a drug dealer, a racist, and just an awfull person all around. His views on life were influenced by his society and his society was not a good one. The second half everything changed. He expanded his views, he traveled the world, He learned new things. But i will have to read his biography to get to know him more. But i do kno...more
Alli Poirot
fast-paced and graphic, both literally and figuratively. this is NOT 'the autobiography of malcolm x'. it is instead a graphic version of a biography of malcolm x. the writer used several sources, including malcolm's autobiography, to create this. i haven't read the autobiography, so i'm not sure how it compares. it is slim, but powerful. key quotes from key figures are used, and the creator is understandably careful not to draw conclusions about the veracity of certain events or perspectives. t...more
Sarah H
Doesn't really accurately portray his life but overall, it's a good overview of it.
Sidik Fofana
SIX WORD REVIEW: ...and it doesn't sugarcoat for kids.
Alex Rudder
Malcom X was a tough book to read. I didnt really get the concept or the meaning of the beginning, when he was throwing his life away. To me that seems completely fiction, as i have seen that in so many other books. I can believe that this man was a game changer and was very important in history, but to what extent im really not sure. I think that this book would be okay if used as essay proof, but really thats pretty much it. I dont think i would recommend this book to many.
Taneysha forsyth
Emilia P
Man, Malcolm X.
Times were tough for you.
This book maybe didn't focus on his influence enough, and more on the backstage parts of his life that were more unpleasant and that ultimately led to his undoing (which, can I just say, totally sucked)..and I don't really know enough about his influence. Is it shallow to say that this book made me want to see the Denzel movie? Hm. Probably--regardless--it made me want to learn more, and that's good.
Erika Barrington
I am glad that I learned all that I did from this book.

My snotty comment that has nothing to do with the content of the book - is that its mostly narration, not dialogue. So - that was something I noticed myself wanting as I kept reading. When I put it down I felt like I knew his story well, but there's still a part of him that I didn't see because the book is mostly someone else's words.
I can't speak to how this view of Malcolm's life compares to other accounts, having read no others yet. I would guess this is at the least a compassionate lens, and rather complex for the length of the story. It is beautifully rendered, and a great starting point to get past the thin stereotypes of him in mainstream American mythos. It leaves me wanting to know more about the man.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This was awful.

The art is murky, and frequently poorly laid out with images visibly distorted to fir the grid. the text is verbose and dull. There is no interaction between visuals and words. The whole thing is an exercise in eye strain and boredom. Malcolm X deserves a better 'graphic biography'. Might I suggest approaching the good people at Tara Books to commission one?
Michael Borshuk
Excellent use of the medium. DuBurke's art is wonderful throughout, and Helfer does an excellent job of distilling so much of Malcolm X's biography in digestible, dramatic narrative. Have been putting this off for a while, but was delighted to lose myself in it this afternoon as I prepare to teach the Autobiography after Spring Break.
The graphic format will pull in some readers, and this book presents a serviceable overview of his life. It does not, however, explain Malcolm's larger importance in the civil rights movement or in American history. The author included few direct quotations from Malcolm's speeches or writings, which would have made it a stronger book.
MIND SHATTERING BLEND of comics-silkscreen-dialogue/storytelling that keeps it painfully real. no holds barred. this is, undeniably, a graphic biography book created by a talented writer and an equally talented artist. i can't believe it. more books should be like this. this book is worth millions. billions. priceless
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I remember 1 7 Mar 11, 2009 07:44PM  
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Andrew Helfer usually credited as Andy Helfer, is an award-winning comic book creator best known for his work as an editor and writer at DC Comics, where he founded the Paradox Press imprint. Helfer joined DC in the 1980s, and was responsible for placing Keith Giffen and J.M. deMatteis on the Justice League titles; as well, he was the editor for The Man of Steel limited series by John Byrne. He al...more
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