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Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  368 Ratings  ·  64 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 823)
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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
Miroku Nemeth
Jan 05, 2013 Miroku Nemeth rated it liked it
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
Apr 29, 2014 Mariah rated it liked it
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
May 28, 2014 Tony Cafiso rated it it was ok
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.
Desiree Brunelle
Jan 07, 2015 Desiree Brunelle rated it it was amazing
Malcolm X is about a man who starts off the beaten track and ends up as something more, more meaning full and has a greater influence to a greater purpose. Malcolm always was different as boy, he was lighter skinned than his other brothers and anyone in the black community.his father Earl was abusive to his mother who was a very kind women, his brothers and to him as well but less so because Malcolm believes he reminded his father of a white boy so he was lenient towards him. Malcolm s mother wa ...more
Sarah H
Jul 06, 2014 Sarah H rated it liked it
Doesn't really accurately portray his life but overall, it's a good overview of it.
Andrae Mcconnell
Dec 15, 2009 Andrae Mcconnell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yal-2009
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
Mar 27, 2014 Matt rated it did not like it
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.
May 07, 2010 Chazzbot rated it it was ok
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
John Sloan
Jan 31, 2016 John Sloan rated it it was amazing
Really good. This was a really well put together version of Malcolm's life. Considering i knew next to nothing about him before this. Also revealed a lot of information about the struggle for black rights in the USA, specifically about the Nation of Islam. Besides this it was put together as a very compelling story from the opening just before Malcolm's death. A good starting point for me reading about these issues, but also i would say a good read for anyone as the story is in his format so its ...more
Krystl Louwagie
Feb 14, 2016 Krystl Louwagie rated it really liked it
Not really written in the style of a comic book, but still able to call itself a graphic novel because of all the illustrations accompanying each panel, the text was very, very dense. Still, it's more accessible this way than a flat out written biography, I think.
I've never really been very clear on Malcolm X's role in our history and this helped a lot. In my head he was always more a central figure for black rights activism (as opposed to peaceful black rights pacifism) but I didn't realize ho
Kristine Hansen
Tedious and difficult to work through. I'm not entirely sure why I felt this way about this book. I was already familiar with the story of Malcolm X, but this telling had so little life that I felt like I was reading a Wikipedia article with random illustrations that weren't even all the discernible and didn't always relate to the story itself.

The heart of a graphic novel should be the interplay of picture and word upon the page. Each adds upon the other, building the story. But here, there was
Apr 21, 2014 Tarek rated it really liked it
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
Nick Kinsella
Aug 23, 2016 Nick Kinsella rated it it was amazing
I picked this up on a whim at the library as I was picking out chunky baby books for my daughter. The extent of my knowledge of Malcolm X was reading his Wikipedia page briefly a couple years ago, watching part of his "Message to the Grass Roots" on YouTube, and having brief discussions about him with black friends and coworkers, who, rightly so, knew much more about him than I did.

In school when we study the tumultuous Civil Rights era, pages and pages are given to Martin Luther King, Jr. This
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Nov 30, 2013 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it did not like it
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?
Lonnie Freedman
Jun 07, 2016 Lonnie Freedman rated it it was ok
Ironically feeling like a white-washed version of Malcolm X’s landmark Autobiography, A Graphic Biography: Malcolm X never delves deeper than second-hand accounts of his life. Appreciately framed by historical photos rendered in DuBurke’s black and white hues, the graphic novel, however, eschews one of the medium’s strengths – showing as a way of telling – by casting every panel with exhaustive explanatory text: solidifying its uncomfortable position between X’s detailed Autobiography and Spike ...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
May 09, 2008 Krista rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen-fiction
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
Mar 23, 2010 Nic rated it liked it
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,
Benjamin Britton
May 20, 2016 Benjamin Britton rated it it was amazing
"Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, and honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves… Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man-but a seed-which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is-a prince- our own black prince!- Who didn't hesitate to die, because he l ...more
Jun 29, 2016 Frank rated it liked it
Similar to a lot of non-white leaders, history has painted Malcolm X in very broad strokes. At least the history I was taught. The facts, as always, are more complicated and much more interesting. He was a loud, scary radical, especially compared to the more media-friendly MLK, and radicals tend to get marginalized. It's a shame because the margins are where you usually find the truth.
Jul 28, 2010 Kathy rated it liked it
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
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
Sep 05, 2014 HC rated it it was ok
I don't think a graphic novel is the best forum to challenge the integrity of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and it bothered me that the author was so quick to do it. I also thought the illustrations were so-so at best, and the text contained grammatical errors that I couldn't excuse. Someone should do better for Malcolm.
Kevin Summers
Mar 28, 2015 Kevin Summers rated it liked it
I enjoy reading graphic novels about history, so I did enjoy Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. On the other hand, this book didn't really grab me.
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
Jul 22, 2016 alix rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
A worthy addition to the canon of Malcolm X. What it lacks in completeness, it makes up for in interest. Would be a good pre-Autobiography intro to the life and times of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
Sep 21, 2015 Bridget rated it really liked it
I think this may be aimed more at teenagers than adults, but I really enjoyed reading it. It definitely made me want to read his autobiography.
Rebecca Plaza
Mar 25, 2016 Rebecca Plaza rated it liked it
I never know the ins and outs of Malcolm's life or how he was murdered. The pictures are dark but would be good for a reluctant reader. Next is 'X'.
George Marshall
Mar 21, 2012 George Marshall rated it really liked it
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
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I remember 1 7 Mar 12, 2009 03:44AM  
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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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