Best Book by a Local Author - 2005
Capote in Kansas
Rarely do graphic novels attain the respect accorded "serious" literature. For many readers, the very term is synonymous with camp or worse, conjuring images of be-tighted men flying hither and yon, saving the world with their otherworldly powers. A shame that these readers will miss Capote in Kansas, written by Ande Parks and illustrated by St. Louisan Chris Samnee. It features no superheroes, only author Truman Capote, who, armed with nothing more than his natty wardrobe and a reporter's notebook, travels to Holcomb, Kansas, to investigate the grisly, inexplicable murders that will be the subject of his groundbreaking classic In Cold Blood. Parks' writing is crisp, especially in his depiction of Capote and his New York literary milieu, but it is Samnee's stark black-and-white illustrations that give the novel its resonance. We see Capote age over the course of his writing, both literally and figuratively. A particularly powerful -- and nearly wordless -- scene shows Capote thinking nothing of seducing a local teacher (who, unlike Capote, has everything to lose in this one-night stand) and then, after the teacher has left, facing the crime-scene photographs he has been avoiding. A bravura sequence, it gives notice that St. Louis is home to a significant new talent. Give him -- and an entire field of literature -- a chance.