Kyle Baker’s subtle style in Nat Turner

Whoa! What an impressive piece of work. Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner was really something else.

This isn’t really a complaint, but I found myself constantly going back to take a second look at certain frames to fully understand the scene depicted. There were many instances where I just pressed forward totally confused (especially in the first two chapters). I suppose it’s just a complex book and should be praised for being so? A lot of things are implied in the frames, and many of them are subtle enough to miss.

I would also say that the first chapter was relatively unnecessary. I almost felt the whole time that Baker was trying to extend the story too far in the past (excessively so) and that the story really only needed to begin with Turner. I was just confused the whole time during the first two chapters — which one of these voiceless speakers was Turner? They all drawn similarly! Perhaps I was just overthinking it.

Once it was clear which character was Turner and once he had his epiphany and began his revolt, the book really picked up pace and everything really clicked. I then went back and re-read certain scenes to really understand ’em. Overall? Good book, glad I read it.

3 thoughts on “Kyle Baker’s subtle style in Nat Turner”

  1. The significance of the first chapter of Nat Turner is something we’ll discuss in class. It’s definitely a piece of the narrative that stands outside the source text (i.e. The Confessions of Nat Turner), so it’s quite natural that we should question its function…

  2. I think the first chapter is the most important part of the book. It lays the foundation for the whole story. I believe that Baker created ambiguity in the first chapter on purpose. The chapter is entitled Home. It is a place that is supposed to be safe, calm, and inviting– not chaotic. If you put yourself in the shoes of the people who called this place home when the slave drivers came you would be confused too. Baker captured this tension. Baker needed to give the reader something to contrast the rest of the novel with. A random group of people came to kidnap another group. We needed to see this to understand why a violent rebellion without remorse would even happen.

    As for the main character… It doesn’t matter who Nat Turner is. They are all drawn similar for a reason. The graphic novel might be called Nat Turner but I don’t see the book as being a narrative about him as much as I see it about slavery in general. It is about how far these people were abused to the point where they said enough is enough. When they were safe on their home land there was no need for a heroin to raise, everyone was an equal there. But when one of your people gets shot in the face, then the rest enslaved; it is only a matter of time until someone steps up to lob heads off with an ax in return.

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