A special preview event happening last night for the London Cartoon Museum's new exhibition for Black, a new graphic novel by Tobias Taitt and Anthony Smith f a new graphic memoir by Tobias Taitt and Anthony Smith. The graphic novel adaptation from Soaring Penguin Press tells Tobais' story through from the care homes of 1970s Britain, to prison, to discovering a passion for literature and turning his life around.
As part of the exhibition, there was an introduction from the Cartoon Museum and Soaring Penguin Press, recorded on video and just uploaded to YouTube.
Followed by a speech by Tobias Taitt about the book, his journey to graphic novels, and his intended legacy for the new adaptation.
As well as Anthony Smith on his journey to the book, and how he helped make the graphic adaptation happen.
The Cartoon Museum exhibition also contains plenty of original artwork from the graphic novel.
As well as items from the time the book is set, that are referred to in the story. And yes, that is a genuine 1980 issue of kids comic book Nutty.
As well as how the items fit in contextually into the graphic novel.
More video narratives from Tobias Taitt.
And even a bed installed, to reflect Tobias' own as a child.
The exhibition runs until mid-January, and the Cartoon Museum can be found on Wells Street, London.
Black is a new graphic novel by Tobias Taitt and Anthony Smith from publisher Soaring Penguin Press, adapting Taitt's autobiographical story "Black Bastard" as a second-generation British Windrush immigrant- something that's increasingly in the news given the recent UK government policies in action.
The "Windrush generation" is the name given to the immigration of the Caribbean to the United Kingdom after the Second World War, encouraged by the British government to fill shortages in the work market. The British Nationality Act gave Citizenship of the UK and Colonies to all people living in the United Kingdom and its colonies, and the right of entry and settlement in the UK. Many West Indians especially were attracted by better prospects in what was often referred to as the mother country.
The ship HMT Empire Windrush brought a group of 802 migrants to the port of Tilbury, near London, on 22 June 1948. An advertisement had appeared in Jamaican newspapers offering cheap transport on the ship for anybody who wanted to come and work in the United Kingdom. Many former servicemen took this opportunity to return to Britain with the hopes of rejoining the RAF, while others decided to make the journey just to see what England was like. Many intended to stay in Britain for no more than a few years and a number did return to the Caribbean, but the majority remained to settle permanently. The arrival of the passengers has become an important landmark in the history of modern Britain, and the image of West Indians filing off the ship's gangplank has come to symbolise the beginning of modern British multicultural society.
Committees set up to look into the issues of such immigration, in an attempt to curb it, instead reported that no restrictions were required as there was plenty of work in post-war Britain, and industries such as British Rail, the National Health Service, and public transport recruited almost exclusively from Jamaica and Barbados. However, many new arrivals were to endure prejudice, intolerance, and racism from sectors of white British society, with employment and housing denied to them on the basis of race. Trade unions would often not help African-Caribbean workers and some pubs, clubs, dance halls and churches would bar black people from entering. However, an entire generation of Britons with African-Caribbean heritage now exist, contributing to British society in every field. So, in recent years, when the UK Government began a crackdown on those who came to Britain but did not have proof of their resident status, it caused a scandal that is still happening right now – another plane deporting people who were young children when they first came from Jamaica to Britain had to be stopped after protests were made.
Taitt's experiences as his mother tried, and failed, to build a better life for them in Britain speaks of systemic failures and personal hardships which are often overlooked. This new 128-page graphic novel is printed in black and white, reflecting the stark communication of Taitt's story, experiences as a young teenager falling in love and into a life of crime illustrating Taitt's complicated relationship with his own past. Smith's art brings out nuance and empathy in a story where there are no easy answers or trite solutions, including one particular scene with Taitt as a child reading the Captain Britain comic book while wearing the free Union Jack mask.
Black is the second autobiography Soaring Penguin Press has funded following on from the success of Ilana Zeffren's Urban Tails earlier in 2021.