Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem's Legendary Theater

James Otis Smith (illus.). ComicArts: Abrams. Jan. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9781419731389. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781683353836. THEATER
This adaptation brings new life to Fox's (In the Groove) 1983 definitive history tracing the Apollo Theater as the cultural center of New York's Harlem. The carefully researched narrative features those who worked and performed at the Apollo over the years and strives to portray the good times as well as the bad. Smith's (Madunia) dynamic artwork often eschews traditional comics panels in favor of images and scenes that flow together, conveying the energy and excitement of showbiz. The two-tone, black-and-blue coloring creates the feeling of being inside a darkened theater, although it could have benefited from occasional splashes of contrasting hues. And while the amount of information presented can be almost overwhelming, the work ultimately accomplishes its goal of relaying the Apollo's status as a legendary venue.
VERDICT Anyone interested in African American music and history and pop culture history will find this a captivating read.

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