Award-winning author Geoffrey Philp (Garvey’s Ghost and Benjamin, My Son) has penned a graphic novel detailing the life of Jamaican national hero Marcus Garvey. The book will be twinned with a biography of another great Jamaican, Mary Seacole, and published summer 2021 by Kingston based independent Blue Banyan Books. To support the publishing effort, the company has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the popular site Indiegogo.com
While graphic novels particularly engaging for the young, due to the cost, Caribbean publishing has generally steered clear of this dynamic format. With their campaign, dubbed Lions and Untold Stories, company is inviting people to donate, or pre-order their own copies for themselves or as donations for libraries in Jamaica, as ‘perks’. The funds will cover full development of the graphic novels, including illustration, design, printing and marketing.
The biographies, My Name is Marcus and My Name is Mary, targets children 8-12 years old. Philp is the winner of a Canute Brodhurst Prize and James Michener Fellowship. Djet Lane, one of the most exciting illustration talents in Kingston today, will illustrate the graphic novel.
My Name is Mary will be authored by Tanya Batson-Savage (Pumpkin Belly and Other Stories), based on the fantastic research skills of Winsome Hudson, former National Librarian of Jamaica. Seacole’s life and travels will be illustrated by Staysean Daley, an illustrator, designer and entrepreneur.
Mary Seacole, born in Kingston, in 1805, herself a victim of Cholera, attended to the sick in Jamaica, in Panama, and, during the Crimean War. Born almost a century later on August 17, 1887, Garvey helped to shape the modern civil rights movement, promoting ideas of social resilience and racial equality.
“The sad fact is, our children are growing up without the wisdom of Marcus Garvey who has been praised by leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X,” said Philp, noting that he wished he had been exposed to such teachings as a child growing up in Jamaica.
The biographies signal Blue Banyan’s first foray into non-fiction. The press has published Sandy, Tosh and the Moo Cow (Paula-Anne Porter Jones) and Diane Browne’s Commonwealth prize winner, The Happiness Dress. Under its imprint Blouse & Skirt Books it has published Burt Award for Young Adult Literature prize-winners All Over Again (A-dZiko Simba Gegele) and Girlcott (Florenze Webb Maxwell), as well as the Mervyn Morris selected poetry collection In This Breadfruit Kingdom.
“We called this campaign Lions and Untold stories based on African proverb,” said Batson Savage. “We must tell our own stories if we want to ever see ourselves as the heroes. Both Seacole and Garvey showed us that. We owe it to our children. And we owe it to ourselves.”
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