PITCH BLACK, DON’T BE SKERD by Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton is a dark but realistic account based on a true story. One out of every five children in the US lives in poverty, many are homeless. This book taps us on the shoulder and reminds us to not look-away: “Just cause you can’t see don’t mean ain’t nothing there.”This graphic novel is a great book to share as a family especially if summer means taking a trip to a city with a subway system.
PITCH BLACK was published by Cinco Puntos Press, a small independent press out of El Paso, Texas, to pay attention to! Their books include a wide variety of genres, from picture books (Crossing Bok Chitto by Tim Tingle) to YA historical novels (This Thing Called the Future by JL Powers) and nonfiction as well as adult titles. The editors are not afraid to take on controversial topics or cutting-edge presentations. They are a publishing house to be aware of, take a look at, and follow their startling, well-written, award-winning books.
As the reviewer, I was lucky to be able to talk with the author, Youme Landowne, and ask her several questions about how she met and wrote about Tony who lived under the subway system.
Q: Were you really traveling the subway when you met this “unknown person,” this artist?
Anthony Horton and I were, just as the story illustrates, on the platform and then riding the train as we met. Unlike the book, we met several times in various places before I had the chance to visit his place in the tunnels.
Q: Did you go down under the subway substructure into the maze of tunnels and explore? How did that feel? What did you learn about the people who live there? What is something we might be surprised to “see?” (in any interpretation of “see”)
I visited Tony and he showed me around. I did not meet any other people. Tony said it was getting harder and harder for anyone to make their living there. I don’t know who the readers here are, people are surprised by different things. There is a lot of space under ground, there is a lot of peace and quiet, comfort can be found.
Tony died this year and I still don’t want to believe it. He shared his love and his struggles, he was and is a beautiful, complicated and extremely talented artist. Pitch Black was a hard project for both us, we wanted to give what we could. Many people supported us, even though the work we were doing may have seemed risky or foolish. Tony was working on a book called The Other Side, which basically told a more adult version of his life.
There is more to be said, but the words aren’t coming at this time.
Thank you Nancy, thank you for your writing and for asking questions.