NYCC ’19: Oni Press Announces Joel Christian Gill’s Memoir “Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence”

By | October 4th, 2019
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Oni Press have announced a new book from cartoonist and educator Joel Christian Gill (“Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History”), a graphic autobiography titled “Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence.” Set for release in January, the book is framed as a discussion between Gill and his son, where he recounts his violent and poverty-stricken childhood during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s.

The book will explore how young Joel learned “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,” and “the decisions he made out of necessity, and how these choices shaped him as a man and a father himself.”

“’Fights’ is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Gill says in the press release. “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.”

Senior editor Shawna Gore said, “Oni is incredibly proud to include ‘Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence’ as a lead title in our 2020 slate” says “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.”

Advance 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 Thing;” “Taboo”

“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”

//TAGS | NYCC '19

Christopher Chiu-Tabet

Chris is the news manager of Multiversity Comics. A writer from London on the autistic spectrum, he enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, and games, plus history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic.


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