Tobias Taitt and artist Anthony Smith’s revelatory debut graphic novel BLACK, currently seeking funding Kickstarter, is an examination of an often-ignored piece of modern UK history. Taitt’s experiences as his mother tried, and failed, to build a better life for them in Britain speaks of systemic failures and personal hardships which are often overlooked.
Tobias Taitt never knew his father, but he knew his mother all too well. After she killed his uncle, three-year-old Tobias was condemned to spend his early years in a series of bleak children’s homes. As a black youth growing up in Seventies’ Britain he learned first-hand that the world could be a cold and uncaring place for a child of the state. But he also learned to navigate – and eventually to buck – the system.
Discovering a life outside the drab institutions that held him, he began a descent into a life of crime, while simultaneously developing a love for literature, and all its possibilities that grew within him.
First seen in the digital anthology Aces Weekly, this powerful, thought-provoking 128-page graphic novel will be printed in black and white, reflecting the stark communication of Taitt’s story. His experiences as a young teenager falling in love and into a life of crime is remarkably frank and speaks to Taitt’s complicated relationship with his own past. Smith’s art brings out nuance and empathy in a story where there are no easy answers, or trite solutions.
The Kickstarter is the latest from Soaring Penguin Press, publishers of the Meanwhile anthology and more, who are continuing to use crowdfunding as a way of increasing creator pay-outs, aiming to provide an additional sum on top of the page rate. BLACK is the second autobiography Soaring is seeking to fund in this way following on from the success of Ilana Zeffren’s Urban Tails earlier in 2021.
Tobias Taitt was raised as a child of the state after his mother brutally murdered her lover. He spent the 1970s and ’80s in various care homes in the South of England. He left those institutions at the age of 15 and promptly fell into a life of crime. He was eventually arrested and spent several years at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in some of Britain’s toughest prisons.
Throughout this time, Tobias developed a keen interest in literature. He is passionate about recording modern UK history, specifically the untold lives of its citizens. He believes their stories should be recorded for future generations, just as he has done with his own. Tobias is currently working on a number of new writing projects and he is the founder and Head Coach at Unity Boxing – A charitable boxing club that helps youngsters from various backgrounds develop both physically and mentally.
Anthony Smith began his career as a cartoonist, working for Marvel UK, Knockabout, and a host of other publishers, before moving into advertising. At J. Walter Thompson he created numerous high-profile TV and press campaigns, and went on to work for a variety of other ad agencies before returning to cartooning and illustration. His daily cartoon, “Learn to Speak Cat”, appears in The Metro newspaper and has been syndicated worldwide through GoComics. He is a regular contributor to Private Eye with his “Logos as they should be” feature.
“BLACK is a thoughtful, engaging introspection by Taitt of his own life, deftly brought to comics by Smith’s clear, no-nonsense artwork,” says Soaring Penguin Press Co-Publisher, John Anderson.
Added Co-Publisher Tim Pilcher, “Taitt and Smith’s moving, enraging and revealing graphic novel is an important exploration of British black history. Utterly uncompromising, it promises to both shock and educate, and in these fevered times is essential reading.”