Kyle Baker is an American cartoonist, comic book writer-artist, and animator known for his graphic novels, winning numerous Eisner awards and Harvey awards for his comics within the field of comics. Kyle Baker has worked on a plethora of comic projects, from working with Marvel Comics on Classic X-men, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Deadpool, to DC’s Justice League America, Batman, the Spirit, to Vertigo Comics.
But for me, his most notable work that caught my eye, was his self published work, Nat Turner (2005). In Nat Turner, the acclaimed author and illustrator Kyle Baker depicts the evils of slavery in this moving and historically accurate story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. Told nearly wordlessly, every image resonates with the reader as the brutal story unfolds.
Nat Turner charts the course of a self educated slave, that sparked an uprising in Virginia that left more than 50 adults and children dead and served as one of the opening salvos in the fight to end slavery. “Nat Turner” uses stark black-and-white graphics to portray Turner and his band of rebel slaves. It follows Turner from childhood to his execution of the bloody revolt. Baker does well to exhume Turner’s story and presenting the tale as a graphic novel aimed at readers of all ages. In detailing the plight of Nat Turner, Baker examines preposterous conditions under which slaves were placed were worse than jail. His illustrative ability, lack of speech and the utilisation of just illustrated imagery to convey the underlying message of slavery and the revolt against such conditions is remarkably striking and extremely impressive.
In a way, Nat Turner bears a certain level of similarity to Maus, as both works are suspenseful and violently document of the discriminate atrocities of man towards man.