Muhammad Ali


By Sybille Titeux de la Croix & Amazing Améziane, translated by Nicole Seguin-Morris for Studio Cutie (Dark Horse Books)
ISBN: 978-1-50670-318-3 (HB) eISBN: 978-1-63008-899-6

Fuelled largely by European comics, there’s a superb wealth of graphic biographies and auto biographies around for us mere English-speakers and I’ve reviewed a fair few of them. One of the best is this redoubtable treat from 2016, crafted by all-round artist and musician Sybille Titeux de la Croix (L’Apparition, Dostoyevski’s Gratte Moi La Puce) who studied at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs. Her tag-team partner and illustrator here goes by Amazing Améziane: a multi-disciplinary creator, screenwriter and avowed child of the 1970s. He started crafting comics in 2001 and his other efforts include Clan, Bagmen and Cuatro Manos.

Their subject certainly needs no introduction. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17th 1942, he rose to fame through professional boxing during the most turbulent period in American history. Smart, incredibly fit and ferociously determined, he used his fame to become an activist, philanthropist and political and social influencer long before the term was coined or even possible. You don’t need me to tell you how important he was: history does that perfectly well and this superb appreciation and distillation of his life – available in hardback and digital editions – adds stylish gloss and polish to it all.

Following the Introduction from author Titeux de la Croix, the potent blend of narrative art and calligraphic declamation begins with ‘Equality’, relating the early days in Louisville, Kentucky, describing the day to day hardships of segregation, racist atrocities such as ‘The Murder of Emmett Till’ and how little Cassius Clay accidentally falls into boxing after his bike is stolen…

Grit, determination and focus carry him to the Olympics where he wins gold, and back to America where he still can’t ride some buses or eat in any diner he chooses…

‘Islam’ relates the days of political and religious awakening, meeting Henry Cooper and Malcolm X, proving he’s “the Greatest” and changing his name…

Diverting for a detailed and comprehensive analysis of ‘Ali’s Technique’, we follow the champion’s major bouts and landmark fights in and out of the ring (with specific reference to FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover’s obsessive investigations) and the time when pro civil rights advocates started being assassinated, leading to a quest for ‘Justice’

The increasingly famous fighter becomes a figurehead through the late 1960s and spokesman in the 1970s, all the while combatting other boxers, media persecution and the aging process, before the later years of ‘Freedom’ culminate in 1984’s ‘Diagnosis: Parkinson’s’ and the long, slow unwinnable fight that ultimately claimed his life on June 3rd 2016…

Remarkable and uncompromising – the book, as well as the man – Muhammad Ali celebrates a unique life and unmatchable achievements with compelling effect. Even if you don’t like biographies or sports, this is a story and graphic treat every comics lover will want to see…
Muhammad Ali, Ali the Great © ÉDITIONS DU LOMBARD (DARGUAD- LOMBARD S.A.) 2015 by Amazing Améziane, Sybille Titeux de la Croix. All rights reserved.