Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Comics Wednesday Week 34 - Brownsville

I was hoping to read and review Ande Parks Union Station for the last week of non-fiction month, unfortunately neither the comic book store in town, nor the book stores had it in stock.  I did manage to order myself a copy, but with distribution the way it is, I won't have it in my eager hands until a few days after this is to be posted.  Unfortunate, but I will manage to read it, and perhaps review it somewhere down the road once the next TWO theme months are over.

Yes, observant and longtime readers, I do indeed have an entire theme for the month of October, encompassing each and every category I chronicle.  This will be a first.  Hopefully, the subject of such lavish devotion for the 31 days of the hallowed month will keep you coming back each and every day.

But there is still today's post to talk about.  Honestly, I thought I was sunk, unable to find just one more graphic novel that would fit into my narrow parameters.  So I did what I always do when I don't know what else to do.  I sat in my office and stared at the stacks and shelves of books, hoping one of them would glow like the Ark of the Covenant, and not burn my flesh away as soon as I noticed it.  Hard to pick a book with eyes closed.

Fortunately for myself, a rather non-descript book did catch my eye from the bottom shelf of a rarely read bookshelf.  A thin layer of dust did it's best to keep this title from my gaze, but, I'm hoping purely by circumstance, it was slightly askew, and my obsessive compulsive nature made me immediately straighten it out.  It was a book I owned, but hadn't yet read, a problem I have quite often. 

It is Brownsville, written by Neil Kleid, illustrated by Jake Allen, and published by NBM.  And had I remember I owned it, it might have been the first book reviewed this month.

In the 1930's, life in Brooklyn was murder.

"Jewish gangster" isn't a term you hear much in post-Holocaust society... but back when the Dodgers played in the East and licorice cost a penny a bag, Brooklyn corners were lousy with semitic young toughs looking for adventure and excitement - none more so than in Brownsville.

Follow the intertwined lives of Allie Tanennbaum, Abe Reles and scores of hoods organized by Louis Lepke Buchalter into the deadliest hit operation in Mafia history, "Murder, Inc.", as they escape the mean streets and lonely tenements of East New York., make themselves into the most dangerous men in America, only to eventually send their best friends and closest allies up the river.

Not sure why I'd never read this before.  If memory serves me correctly, I purchased it in a lot of graphic novels, and it was most likely not the reason I purchased them all.  So it got set aside while I focused my attention on something else, which is a shame.
Brownsville is an interesting and excellent look at a group of gangsters we never hear of or flat out ignore, the Jewish Gangsters.  It's unfortunate, because if there were more books like this, it wouldn't be such an unfamiliar subject.  Kleid weaves a great, decade spanning tale that encompasses numerous quality characters and Allen's black and white art is a good fit for the tale being told.    It's bold and dark, with just enough details; a perfect compliment to the story.
Klein was also smart enough to include a bibliography and reference section.  It's obvious from the story  it was well researched, but thanks to this inclusion, folks such as myself can check out the same books, websites, and films he did.  Believe me, I will.
More from Klein can be found at his website, .

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