by Ben Passmore. Silver Sprocket, April 2018. 112 p. ill. ISBN 9781945509209 (hardcover), $20.00.

Review June 2019
Quentin Pace, Technology Librarian, University of Houston-Downtown, paceq@uhd.edu

Cover of Your Black Friend and Other Strangers

Ben Passmore’s Your Black Friend and Other Strangers is comprised of twenty short stories. This collection of comics is a mixture of both fiction and nonfiction stories each with a focus on different subjects. The topics range from serious issues such as dealing with white allies, social justice reform, and performative protest to everyday issues like online dating and dealing with roommates. In the titular short story, Passmore discusses racial identity, double consciousness, and the draining feeling that comes with having to traverse between racial spheres. Passmore states that he wants the readers to “become anarchists” and he makes a compelling argument with this compilation of work.

The art style used by Passmore within this collection can be described as cartoonish with emphasis on prominent features. This works well with the exaggerated mannerisms used to heighten the reactions and feelings of the characters. This art style juxtaposed with the density of the text found in some of the shorts does a superb job of adding to the narrative. The wittiness and humor implored by Passmore’s art makes the text easier for the reader to digest, regardless of how heavy the subject matter may be. This book should be required reading for anyone trying to educate and better themselves because it discusses issues that affect us as a whole and presents ways on how we can better interact with one another. It would be best served if this book were available in public and academic libraries. Public and academic libraries, especially ones with collections with a focus on graphic novels or the humanities, would be ideal for holding this book due to a wide array of topics, such as race relations, prison industrial complex, and personal understanding, that are presented within the work.