In Conversation With Graphic Artists Darrin Bell and Elodie Durand

Last Updated: November 9, 2023By 3.1 min readCategories: Book Reviews

This afternoon, I attended a virtual reading as part of the Six Bridges Book Festival with writers and graphic artists, Darrin Bell and Elodie Durand.

Both Darrin and Elodie share their stories in both vivid and beautiful ways. Darrin, inspired by “the talk” he had as a 6 year old black boy with his father and the same talk he then had with his 6 year old son, wrote The Talk his evocative and poignant graphic novel.

Book Description from Macmillan:

Through evocative illustrations and sharp humor, Bell examines how The Talk shaped intimate and public moments from childhood to adulthood. While coming of age in Los Angeles—and finding a voice through cartooning—Bell becomes painfully aware of being regarded as dangerous by white teachers, neighbors, and police officers and thus of his mortality. Drawing attention to the brutal murders of African Americans and showcasing revealing insights and cartoons along the way, he brings us up to the moment of reckoning when people took to the streets protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And now Bell must decide whether he and his own six-year-old son are ready to have The Talk.

You can watch the beautiful book trailer here.

Soon after he wins the Pulitzer for his work satirizing Trump and his political machinations, he narrates: “My son asks if I won for saying how to fix it. I tell him, no, I won for pointing out what’s broken.”

From Darrin Bell’s NPR interview.

Elodie Durand’s book, Transitions, is a lyrical graphic novel illustrating a mother’s journey with her 19-year-old through his gender transition.

“I thought I was open-minded… The news of my child’s gender change hit me like a tidal wave, sweeping away all my certainties. Sweeping away the comfort of my tidy little life.”

From “Transitions

This question of the body is something that belongs to all of us. This effects (gender) all of us. We are gendered at birth…the fact these have become social-political questions meant I didn’t stop at this book, but continued to read about this. I was very comforted by that that I could re-question my own gender journey from my birth. How this effected me as an adult. I found it comforting to understand that there were many questions that people could have about how we behave or how we should behave. I repositioned myself in the experience of this journey which led to a true friendship with Anne’s family

I want there to be room for our differences, but also the similarities between us. I said that this is a book that should open a path to understanding.

From Elodie during today’s reading

Both books reminded me that though we have made moves in the right and accepting direction, our prejudices continue. Bell says, “it is hard to hold onto your prejudices when works like these exist. The books we create today, nobody can undo these books no matter how hard they try.” Works of art like these ensure we continue to give voices to those who do not have one, that we don’t forget the names of those who have died at the hands of hated, but shout their names, teach them in classrooms, and continue to create, create, and create.

“We are trying to silence the voices that had finally been heard.”

Darrin Bell

The form of the graphic novel is a great way to share these stories in accessible, clear, and interesting ways. We learn something further from grasping a book that illustrates vividly the story it is telling.

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