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Review: Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

In October 1974, Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the boxing ring in an attempt to win back the world champion belt. This is that story from the perspective of photojournalist Abbas.

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974 delivers the dance between two titans mixing comic storytelling and Abbas iconic photography.

Photographs: Abbas
Story: Jean-David Morvan
Art: Rafael Ortiz
Color: Hiroyuki Ooshima

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Review: Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Maybe you already knew this, but comic books aren’t just for fiction anymore. I stumbled upon this fact last year, thanks to the Book Riot’s annual Read Harder challenge. I’ve never been the biggest fan of non-fiction, but last year that changed. First, I went on a graphic memoir reading spree. Then with the passing of John Lewis, I binge-read the March trilogy before going on to read several other non-fiction graphic novels about black lives or with anti-racist themes. As such, 2020 was the year I discovered that great storytelling in comic books doesn’t have to rely on fictional characters. This personal trend is set to continue in 2021 with a new non-fiction graphic novel from Titan Comics, Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974.

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974 tells the story of the historic fight between Ali and George Forman. Surprisingly, this isn’t a run-of-the-mill illustrated retelling of history. Instead, writer Jean-David Morvan takes a multi-media approach in his retelling of the “Rumble in the Jungle.” Morvan uses a combination of real-life photos and illustrations from artist Rafael Ortiz to form a creative and unique narrative of the historical boxing match. The graphic novel is further elevated by insight from Abbas, the photojournalist who captured the match. Abbas’ perspective casts the photos he took, the same ones used by Morvan in this book, in a whole new light.

My favorite part about Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974 is that it reads more like an action story than a biographical recounting. This makes the facts and events being relayed by Morvan even more compelling. It is also a wise touch on Morvan’s part to use Abbas’ insights and remembrances as the voice of the narrator. His words give even more authenticity to the narrative and in the early pages of the book, set the tone for the upcoming clash of boxing greats.

I found it interesting that Morvan also gives background on a variety of different topics, each adding its own context to the fight that, appropriately, makes up the graphic novel’s main event. Morvan covers a lot of ground, giving readers information on Don King, who promoted and organized the match, the government and culture of Zaire in the seventies, as well as background details about Ali, Abbas, and Foreman’s lives in the years leading up to the fight. All these additional details play out, interspersed with excerpts from the boxing match itself. As the match progresses in the background, Morvan sets the stage, scene, and stakes by delivering the facts in an engaging manner. Be sure to also check out all the extras at the back of the book. Morvan goes into detail about the beginnings of the project and the making of the graphic novel. He provides a lot of really cool sketches, done by various artists, that show photographers taking some of the world’s most famous photos

Ortiz’s art style is a bit all over the map. Sometimes it’s very realistic. There were pages where I had to do a double take between panels, as it took my brain a moment to ascertain which images were hand drawn and which were real life pictures. Ortiz also does a great job drawing the boxing scenes, capturing the stances and fluid movement of the fighters from one panel to the next. Both of those artistic elements really speak to the realistic level of detailed drawing Ortiz is capable. Yet, there were other times where the illustrations looked blurry, almost as if the ink had been smudged. These are usually drawn in close-up. Luckily, most of the times when the clarity dips, the narration text explains what the image is supposed to show.

Regardless of the unevenness of visual clarity, Ortiz draws all the panels in such a way that they feel authentic to the time period. Unfortunately, just like with the quality of the line work, Hiroyuki Ooshima’s colors are hit and miss as well. There are panels where the color adds just the right touch of detail. For example, the red shading on a pair of boxing gloves in an otherwise black and white or grayscale panel. Other times though, the colors muddle the visual clarity even further. An example is blue tint across a panel that makes the thick lines look even blurrier. I honestly think the entire book would have benefitted from being kept in black and white. Or even just grayscale. Aside from unifying the clarity of every panel, this would also make every illustrated image match the majority of the included real-life photos.

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974 is no ordinary graphic novel. It’s a testament to the kind of innovative storytelling possible when a creative team thinks outside the box and mixes media. It is more than just the story of a boxing match. This graphic novel offers a snapshot of history and uses context to explore everything surrounding the fight between Ali and Forman. This graphic novel is perfect for fans of boxing, fans of history, fans of photojournalism, or those who prefer their fight scenes to be between well-developed (both physically and artistically) men in shorts instead of superpowered dudes in tights.

Story: Jean-David Morvan Art: Rafael Ortiz Color: Hiroyuki Ooshima
Story: 10 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

Titan Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

(W) Jean-David Morvan (A) Rafael Ortiz
In Shops: Mar 03, 2021
SRP: $29.99

Award-winning writer JD Morvan and renowned photographer Abbas’ stunning graphic novel masterpiece which uses iconic photos to uniquely illustrate the historical ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Early Preview: Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Writer: Jean-David Morvan
Artists: Rafael Ortiz, Abbas
Publisher: Titan Comics
Hardcover, $29.99, £26.99
On sale February 2021
ISBN: 9781787736207

On the 30th October 1974, the most famous boxing match of the 20th Century took place. Nicknamed the “Rumble in the Jungle”, it pitted Muhammad Ali, desperate to win back his world champion belt, and George Foreman, the current holder, against each other. Foreman had just KO’d the only two boxers to have ever beaten Ali. By his own admission, Ali was terrified of facing him in the ring…         

Now, the photojournalist Abbas immortalizes this legendary meeting, having kept his photos in his personal archives for 36 years before unveiling them to the world. In a cross between a documentary, photo report and graphic novel, this book reveals the context of the most powerful photographs taken by one of the greatest photographers of the Magnum Photos agency. Enriched by the testimony of Abbas himself, Jean-David Morvan’s script is rigorously brought to life by artist Rafael Ortiz.

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974: Celebrating The Rumble In The Jungle

Titan Comics has announced Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974  – a ground breaking new graphic novel featuring rarely-seen, behind the scenes photographs plus first-hand accounts of this legendary boxing fight from those closest to the action!

Award-winning writer Jean-David Morvan and celebrated photo-journalist Abbas provide a whole new perspective on the MOST-WATCHED LIVE TELEVISION EVENT OF ITS TIME!

On the 30th October 1974 in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), the most famous boxing match of the 20th Century took place, watched by a record estimated television audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide. Nicknamed the “Rumble in the Jungle”, it pitted 32 year-old underdog Muhammad Ali, desperate to win back his world champion belt after a 4-year ban, against 25 year-old George Foreman, the current holder and considered one of the hardest punchers in the sport’s history. 

Now, the photojournalist Abbas immortalises this legendary meeting, having kept his photos in his personal archives for 36 years before unveiling them to the world. This unique graphic novel masterpiece both reveals and reimagines the context of the most powerful photographs taken by one of the greatest photographers of the Magnum Photos agency. Enriched by the testimony of Abbas himself, Jean-David Morvan’s script is rigorously brought to life by artist Rafael Ortiz.

Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974

Team Ninja & Dark Horse Launch Part Two of the Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Team NINJA and Dark Horse Comics today launched part two of the three-part Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z digital comic series continuing the saga of the cyborg ninja’s legendary sword named “Heartless”. Part two finds Yaiba continuing on his quest to attain the mystical “Heartless” sword, encountering a new ally along his way. With different motivations, but both ultimately in the name of revenge, the two must work together in unexpected ways to conquer “the River of Three Crossings” and reach the Storm Temple.

The series is brought to life by writers Tim Seeley and Josh Emmons, artist Rafael Ortiz, colorist Carlos Badilla with a special cover art by James Harren. The comic will be available for free as a download at the Dark Horse Digital Store, as well as through the Dark Horse Comics app (available through iTunes & Google Play).

YAIBA 2 COVER

NYCC 2013: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z In Time for World Zombie Day & New Dark Horse Comic

YAIBA_logo (black)Team NINJA today revealed it will be hosting Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z events October 10 – October 13 in celebration of “World Zombie Day” during New York Comic Con. Festivities kick off on October 10 with NYCC “Yaiba Scavenger Hunts” and continue throughout the convention with nightly Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z sponsored after-hour parties presented by Dead Ninjaz After Dark, which will include photo opportunities and hands-on demos of the upcoming game.

Team NINJA has also teamed up with Dark Horse Comics to give away special signed limited edition Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z prints by famed comic book artist James Stokoe. The limited edition prints will be available to those who follow the official Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z Twitter at the Dark Horse booth #1636 on October 11, 11:00am – 12:00pm and daily at Yaiba branded food trucks between 11:00am – 2:00pm.

Dark Horse has also announced a new Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z web comic which will deliver three exciting vignettes by writers Tim Seeley and Josh Eamons and art from Rafael Ortiz.

The three Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z comics will be available for free download at the Dark Horse Digital Store, www.digital.darkhorse.com, as well as through the Dark Horse Comics app.

An all-new, full-color print comic will also be available when Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z arrives in early 2014.

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