If You Love ‘Hamilton’, Try These Comics Next
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop broadway musical Hamilton is one of the biggest crossover success stories in recent memory, and everyone’s going crazy for its stunning music, compelling narrative, and diverse cast. The musical is about the rise of founding father Alexander Hamilton, from impoverished immigrant, to George Washington’s right hand man, to his downfall following America’s first major sex scandal.
If you’ve spun that record a million times already — or, I guess, streamed it on Spotify a bunch — and you’re still not satisfied, we’ve got five of the best independent comics that can meet your cravings for more great entertainment in the Hamilton mold.
If an accessible look at US history is what you’re looking for, March tells the incredible true life story of Congressman John Lewis who, before he was a representative, fought tirelessly as part of the burgeoning Civil Right Movement alongside Martin Luther King Jr. Along the way, Lewis was beaten, gassed and arrested in his tireless quest for freedom and equality.
The story is quintessentially American and completely vital reading, but what sets March a cut above is that John Lewis himself is a co-author of the comic. It was recently announced that some schools will be using the book to help teach about the struggle, and it’s recommended reading due to its unique perspective on such an important time in U.S. history.
Prince of Cats
The original graphic novel features the story of Romeo and Juliet, but transports it to a near-future Brooklyn, and follows the perspective of Tybalt, leader of the Capulets as they clash nightly with the rival Montagues. The book casts Shakespeare’s classic through a lens of black culture in the mid-’80s, and the vision of what the future might be from that era, and features spectacular sword fights, teenage melodrama and a dirty joke or two, just as the Bard liked it!
The book may be hard to track down outside of a local comic store for now, but that will change later this year when it gets a fresh coat of paint courtesy of a brand new printing from Image Comics.
Hip Hop Family Tree
Ed Piskor’s tale of the beginning hip-hop is absolutely required reading for fans of the genre, just to see the growth and evolution of one of America’s greatest cultural contributions to the world. The fascinating thing about Hip Hop Family Tree is right there in the title, because it’s all connected, and if you’re a comic book lover that loves you some continuity, this is a book that’s got it in spades.
Piskor’s pulpy throwback style is the icing on the cake, rendering hip-hop legends as if they were comic book superheroes, which to many people they were. This is a book that’s worth grabbing in physical form too, because like most Fantagraphics releases, the entire collection and presentation is absolutely gorgeous, and you’re going to want to feel the paper between your fingers as you devour this history.
Just as Hamilton breaks the rules and changes how we perceive its lead characters, so does ODY-C, a sci-fi take on Homer’s Odyssey that recasts its heroes as women. Following a galactic war of epic proportions, Odyssia and her crew must make the longest and most arduous journey yet, the journey home.
The real star of ODY-C is artist Christian Ward, who absolutely steals the show and takes your breath away with every single page. The layouts and the colors are unlike anything you’ll see on the stands today, and there are few books as wildly inventive and innovative in their use of the visual language of comics being published right now.
Founding Fathers Funnies
If your big takeaway from Hamilton was that the founding fathers were all scoundrels and layabouts, you’ll definitely want to check out Peter Bagge’s satirical history comic that lampoons the likes of Paul Revere, John Adams, and even Alexander Hamilton himself.
Founding Fathers Funnies manages to toe the line perfectly between hilariously silly and genuinely educations, and as with Hamilton, it manages to humanize the founders from the mythological status they’ve since attained, and remind you that they swore, screwed, and caused mayhem just like any one of us might on any particular day.