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NYCC: Oni to Publish Memoir by ‘Strange Fruit’ Creator Joel Gill

Oni Press announced at New York Comic Con that it will publish Fight, a memoir by Joel Christian Gill, creator of Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History and Tales of the Talented Tenth.

Told as a dialogue between Gill and his son, Fights recounts Gill’s childhood and coming of age in the South during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. It chronicles the choices he made, good and bad, in a world where too many people turned to violence to solve their problems. Here’s what Gill has to say:

Fights is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, I felt like documenting the abuse and trauma survived could help others in similar situations. As much as this is personal and terrifying I feel like there is someone out there who will benefit from hearing my story.

The book will be published in January 2020. The full press release is below.


‘Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence’ Is a Moving Coming-of-Age Graphic Novel Documenting the Creator’s Life As a Young Black Man

Oni Press is proud to announce the publication of the next book by Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History creator Joel Christian Gill, detailing his upbringing and relationship to the violence that surrounded it.

Fights is Joel Christian Gill’s visceral and deeply affecting memoir chronicling his youthand coming of age as a poor Black child in a chaotic southern landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods during the crack cocaine boom of the 1980s.

“Oni is incredibly proud to include Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence as a lead title in our 2020 slate” says senior editor Shawna Gore. “Joel tells his story with astonishing nuance and clarity–the story of the troubled and conflicted boy he once was, told by the brave and compassionate man he became. Fights is an important and imposing book, both in size and what it aspires to reach in its readers.”

Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems by everything and everyone around him. But fighting doesn’t always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into. 

“Fights is the hardest thing I’ve ever done” says Joel Christian Gill. “However, I felt like documenting the abuse and trauma survived could help others in similar situations. As much as this is personal and terrifying I feel like there is someone out there who will benefit from hearing my story.”

Fights details the young adult life of creator Joel Christian Gill, told through a conversation with his son, bringing him face to face with the decisions he made out of necessity, and how these choices shaped him as a man and a father himself. This must-read memoir arrives in stores in January 2020, and deserves a place on the bookshelves of every parent.

Praise for FIGHTS:

“Powerful, brave, and deeply felt. A crucial addition to the graphic memoir canon.”Ezra Clayton Daniels, author of Upgrade Soul

“FIGHTS is somehow brutally raw, funny as hell, deeply sensitive and insightful in each panel. His approach to both composition and subject matter are fresh and engaging. Joel has been making crucial, honest work for years– and his breakout has arrived.”–Nate Powell, illustrator of March

“In a windswept ocean of graphic memoirs, Joel Christian Gill’s FIGHTS stands tall. FIGHTS is essential not only for the guts it took to tell this life tale, not only for the unflinching candor and clarity of this often harrowing account of hard-scrabble suffering and survival, but because Joel cuts through the meat, the muscle, the tendons, and bone to reach the marrow. Choices—the choices we make, the choices we refuse to make—and the inevitable consequences are what FIGHTS is really about. It’s the memoir we, as a people, as a nation, as a planet, need right now.”
– Stephen R. Bissette, author of Swamp ThingTaboo

“In “Fights”, Gill willingly taps into his vulnerabilities, reflects on his formative experiences, and skillfully translates them into a harrowing, yet hopeful read.” –Whitney Taylor, author of Definitions of Indefinable Things

Joel Christian Gill’s FIGHTS is an engaging and deeply personal coming-of-age story that breaks new ground in graphic memoir.  Through the eyes of his sympathetic young protagonist, Gill’s deceptively simply visual narrative explores issues of masculinity, race, friendship, violence, love and family, all with humor, honesty and a range of powerful emotions.  This book makes an important contribution to the culture, and it’s a page-turner as well.–Dan Mazur, co-author of Comics: A Global History

“FIGHTS is a much-needed look into the oft times fractured window of a young black boy’s life. You may expect youthful stories celebrating memories of innocence and wonder, but when Joel waxes nostalgic, he recalls inconceivable tales of emotional, mental, physical trauma and battle fatigue fit for a war veteran, not a little kid. Author Joel Christian Gill is a SURVIVOR of childhood, and his voice must be heard. A can’t-miss memoir.”– Jamar Nicholas, illustrator of Fist Stick Knife Gun and creator of LEON:  Protector of the Playground 

Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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