Trevor Von Eeden’s ‘The Original Johnson’ Debuts on ComicMix Tomorrow
Trevor von Eeden returns to comics tomorrow with a series that is especially meaningful to our American culture. It’s the story of boxer Jack Johnson, whom von Eeden describes as “the first psychologically free black man in American History.” This is the first major biography of Johnson created by an African-American artist.
The Original Johnson is the story about the man behind the face, a boxer who defeated white men in the ring and took their women after the show, who openly triumphed in white society. He was self-educated, well-read and fluent in three languages. And yet, as von Eeden says, “unlike today’s uncouth gangsta-rapper-thug black ‘stars,’ Jack Johnson had taste, style and class. He conquered racist America because he saw everything from the point of view of his own private joke. I want to explain that joke to our audience.”
Mike Gold, editor-in-chief of ComicMix, said, “I’ve known Trevor for more than three decades, and this is the best I’ve ever seen him do. This 240 page graphic novel is the work of a man reaching his creative peak.”
The timing could not be better as Congress last month passed a resolution, recommending President Bush grant a pardon for Johnson’s 1913 conviction, recognizing the racist overtones, and in order to exonerate Johnson and recognize his contribution to boxing. A similar Senate bill was sponsored by John McCain.
Johnson (1878-1946) was the first black heavyweight champion in the boxing world, reigning from 1908-1915 and participated in the first "Fight of the Century", defeating James J. Jeffries, the former champ, in 1910. The 1913 conviction was regarding his bi-racial marriage which was said to be a violation of the Mann Act.
After retiring from the ring, he opened a Harlem night spot in 1920 that became to be famously known a few years later as The Cotton Club. Johnson also holds a patent for modifications he made to a wrench.
Von Eeden remains the youngest artist employed by DC Comics, joining the company in 1977 and debuting on Black Lightning. He continued to work for the company for years and may be best remember for his work on Thriller, co-created with Robert Loren Fleming. He has also done extensive work for Continuity Associates and commercial efforts.
The Original Johnson will run every Wednesday on ComicMix.