“White All Around” by Wilfrid Lupano & art by Stéphane Fert is an eye opening historical graphic novel with beautiful illustrations. I fell in love with the cover, I knew the story looked very promising and totally in my tastes and I was not disappointed!
What is this Story about?
This graphic novel tells about a real event in America, where a respected and beloved school teacher in the 1800s decided to change path. From holding a middle class boarding school for white young ladies she tried to swap to African descent young ladies. She believed there was more of a need, and there really was. But the town turned on her in a way she never foresaw. It is a terribly sad tale that needs to be heard and that resonates so much today.
Racism was rampant at the time and the small mindedness of the town people hurts. What is truly frightening is to see how little has changed in a way. The problem is still the same. The education system is terrible in America, people in poor regions have sub-par education. An unspoken segregation is taking place between social classes, which can often be summarised into minorities at the bottom, given poor education and kept far enough from the white higher middle class to still be treated as “others”. It is a true horror story. And the only thing that can change mentalities is open mindedness which comes from equal education and equal opportunities. This comic reminds us that there is still a long way to go, but that we can fight for it to happen, in fact that’s the only way anything will ever change.
How are the illustrations?
The drawing style is dynamic with a look similar to sketches for the early Disney princess animation films. It is textured like real pastel chalk on paper. And the colours are wonderful with lovely earthy soft rose tones contrasting with a dark teal throughout. There is something whimsical about it, with lovely rounded shapes, all in curves, that makes the tough message so much more palatable.
I guess that’s because we feel like we are viewing things from those young ladies’ eyes and they are young, full of hope and dreams and ready to stand up for their beliefs. That’s something quite beautiful and it deserves the colourful, feminine design it has. I truly enjoyed the curves and elegance and softness of this comic and hope to see a lot more from that artist.
I recommend this book to all who loved Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog”, the girl classics like “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett but also the books about other women who lived in persecution like “The Diary Of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. This is a very strong graphic novel and I truly believe it should go into every hand.