04 Dec / All Your Racial Problems Will Soon End: The Cartoons of Charles Johnson by Charles Johnson [in Booklist]
Prodigious National Book Award-winning, 1998 MacArthur “Genius” Charles Johnson is now in his 70s, having been repeatedly lauded in multiple genres. Perhaps not as well known is that Johnson began his literary career as a cartoonist (in high school!) – and never stopped drawing, even as he was winning acclaim as a novelist, essayist, scholar, screenwriter, and more.
This landmark compilation gathers decades of his graphic work, including three pivotal, now-rare books: 1970’s Black Humor (“my imagination felt free, as if its own Juneteenth had arrived”), 1972’s Half-Past Nation Time (published by “a flight-by-night operation that disappeared right after sending [Johnson his] author’s copies”), and 1973’s Lumps in the Melting Pot (his “last cartoon manuscript because in 1973, [he] was fully immersed in novel-writing”).
Through ongoing freelance opportunities and “mak[ing] up assignments for [him]self” – illustrating his daughter’s YA books, for example – Johnson has maintained his visual creativity, pushing limits, inspiring, and illuminating with sly humor and biting insight. Despite the over half-century represented here, the promise of the title – All Your Racial Problems Will Soon End – has yet to be ubiquitously realized. The brilliant cartoon that inspired the title is shocking genius, sure to elicit uncomfortable, unavoidable laughter … exactly what this collection should do for lucky readers.