Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow
James Sturm’s new opus is a graphic biography of legendary baseball pitcher Paige that presents poignant and historically resonant drawings along with a smoothly flowing anecdotal narrative.
Leroy Paige, you may know, was a legendary pitcher from the glory days of the Negro Baseball Leagues (and much belatedly into the Caucasian Majors) who played more than a few steps into his sixties and whose singular talents and personality formed the basis of a colorful and entertaining legend. No doubt search-engining will produce ample material on Paige but this iteration of his life stands alone. Of course there is the point where baseball no longer becomes the main focus of my interest (though some of Paige’s tactics on the mound are instructive for fledgling hurlers, like my son) and social cultural history begs for scrupulous attention. I thought I knew something about Paige, but Sturm and Tommaso’s poignant and historically resonant drawings along with a smoothly flowing anecdotal narrative gave both the important features of Leroy Paige’s life. The social context in which he performed is lucidly and splendidly realized (referencing Thomas Hart Benton paintings and Depression era Farm Securities Administration photographs). Fortunately this product of the Center for Cartoon Studies, with which you would do well to acquaint yourself, is not overburdened by the weight of the dramatic story that it tells. A claim I can confirm by the pointing out that both Cuba and I enjoyed this singular piece of work.