With the release of the crime/autobiographical graphic novel ‘Al Capone’ on Kickstarter, YouTuber For the Love of Comics posted his views. Here is what was said;

“Al Capone, what a wonderful book! I love this. This is my Kickstarter virginity being lost here. I’ve never done a Kickstarter before, but I saw this, and the art style instantly caught me. I love it when that happens. I love it when you see an art style, and you can’t quite put into words what is so aesthetically pleasing about it. This is one of those. I couldn’t tell you exactly why; I was just so enthralled and fascinated by the art style.

Al Capone Cover
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‘Cause it is different, and Al Capone is very round of face. A lot of the characters are quite bulky and chunky. The whole kind of aesthetic look of the art style is really intriguing. The colorization added to it, the curvature of the panels, a tiny subtle thing, but it really added to the panel layout and the structure of everything. The art style honestly was fantastic, one of the best things I find about stuff like this is this simplistic artwork. When violence and more serious things come into place, they almost have more of an impact.

The way he depicts violence and shooting and punching is great because he gets a lot of movement in these panels. You get a lot of life. The art style, in general, brings loads of life into this story. But anyway, before I get moving on, the story is by Swan Meralli and artist PF Radis, and it’s by Black Panel Press. This I got on a Kickstarter with another book, and yeah, it was great. Really easy to read, really quick to read. It’s a nice oversized book as well, own binding, really well made. The pages are great glossy pages.

Outside of the artwork, the book captured my attention because I love the 1920s, 1930s, and 40s America. The stories of the Prohibition era, the gangsters, all those types of things just grip me because they were seemingly so much in the way of intriguing characters and events and stories that affect our world now going on in this period. The organized crime movements of these periods still have repercussions and impacts on today.

And so I love going back into all this, understanding more and trying to figure out more. This book does a really interesting thing. I think it understands fully that Al Capone’s story is full of myth and legend and hype and reality mixed all at once. And so how it approaches the story is in a really great way.

Al Capone starts off with Al Capone in prison in 1938 in Alcatraz, and he’s having a discussion with his mother who was beside him knitting in his prison cell, and he says, you know, ‘This press has got it all wrong. The press has got it all wrong. I never did this. I never did that. Let me tell you my story, Mama. I’ll tell you my story.’

And so the narrator throughout the story is Al Capone himself, which is the perfect choice for this book because what it instantly allows the authors to do is that it allows them to tell two or more iterations and interpretations of Al Capone’s story simultaneously. So Al Capone’s biographical outlook, how he saw it, how he was trying to make himself look good, how he was trying to distort reality to make himself less guilt-ridden or whatever and make himself out to be a real hero of Italian Americans. But then the art can tell the reality.

And again, this technique has been used so many times in different comics that I’ve read. Ed Brubaker does it loads. His narration will be telling one story, and the picture will be telling another. I love that because graphic novels are such a great way of getting across complex stories and ideas, but then you can do so many things within the format that you can’t do within a straightforward prose book. And I love it when people take advantage of that.

As an example, many times in this book Al Capone is telling his mama his story and saying that there was a threat, this guy was threatening me, so in the end, I took the high road and paid him off, and we never saw him again. He was gone from New York; he went off and did his own thing, and I think I did the right thing by paying him off. But then the panel shows him brutally murdering that person. And so you get these two contrasting views of Al Capone.

And it’s great because what comes across is a contrasting character, a character that we never going to fully know the ins and outs. How did he get these scars along his face? How did his rise to prominence in organized crime happen? We are never going to fully know the details because he was an underground criminal who was there to keep things secret and keep things separate.

The story goes fairly straightforwardly in terms of an autobiographical look at Al Capone’s life, as much as can be. And so the opening chapter is pretty much his kind of foundation, his youth growing up as a child in New York, him getting in with organized crime as a very young man, and then eventually moving on to Chicago and using his New York connections to get in with Chicago. So by chapter 2, you’re already in Chicago, and it’s about 170 or so pages the book, but it’s not a slow pace at all. It’s a nice quick, straightforward pace.

I personally took a little while to read it because I was longingly and lovingly looking at the artwork. I mean, sometimes when the artist opens up with this cityscape of Chicago or New York, I just look at it for ages, just looking at the old billboards and stuff styles, and yeah, it’s great. I think the artist did the coloring for this as well, and I love it because it’s got that almost kind of chalky crayon-like texture in places. It’s lovely, it’s really nice, and the color palette is perfect to give it a bit of age, a bit of vintage quality to it. I think it’s very exceptionally well done.

Buildings in Al Capone graphic novel

I think you get insights into his family life because one of the mad things is I never even thought of Al Capone before I read this book as a family man. I almost put to the back of my mind his wife and his children. I knew him as a kind of gangster and a man who would be seen with lots of women, but I never really thought of him in a family context or even thought of his mom and dad. And so this book does give a good extra dimension to Al Capone’s humanity, but again, you never know what’s reality and what’s not reality.

You know, you can’t look into Al Capone further and read multiple accounts of different kinds of histories of Al Capone and then try to put together what in this book is concrete and what’s not. But ultimately part of the non-fixed history of Al Capone is what’s kind of intriguing, is that fact that, you know, his story isn’t properly written and understood. His story is a little distorted. You go through a lot of the dynamics of gangster life, of him rising to prominence in Chicago, that takes a big chunk of the book as you would expect. Him going through Prohibition, him getting rid of, the Irish, the other Italians that are taking over or the Sicilians.

Yeah, I really love how this book is written and drawn, and I say those two things quite distinctly separate because they feel like the two stories of Al Capone. And that’s what I really like more than anything about this book. The narration kind of almost feels like one tale of Al Capone, and then the art almost feels like another tale of Al Capone, The two blend so well to give you this impression that okay, reality doesn’t matter much to Al Capone, it’s all about how he’s perceived and how he’s seen, but then the reality in the depictions of the art is so much more brutal and intense and devastating that Al Capone ever really justifies in his words or actions.

There’s tons of stuff in here that I know very little of in terms of that I found out through this book and that I’ve kind of tried to look briefly into in between recording this video and reading this book. And again, it has certainly spurred me on to look further into Al Capone in this period because there is a lot that your brain kind of almost mixes up and pushes together in this period. You push a lot of stories and a lot of ideas together. It kind of mixes with the history a little bit, but it certainly spurred me on to kind of look more into Al Capone and find out a bit more about that Prohibition period.

I like, I say I’m a historian by trade, and so I knew a bit about it, but equally, this shed the light(to the fact that) I didn’t know as much as I thought. So I’m certainly kind of keen to look into certain aspects, particularly his latter years. After his fall from grace. What happened to him in prison in the ensuing years?”

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