The Weary Blues

Twenty years ago, I was finishing my comics adaptation of the Langston Hughes poem “The Weary Blues.” The final page was completed on January 14, 2004.

I remember that my goal was to replicate the rhyming couplets of the poem visually. So I composed the pages as a series of paired panels. The title design was inspired by some old record label that I had seen and maybe Chris Ware’s Ragtime Ephemeralist (he was looking at the same record labels probably, but doing a much more careful and beautiful job of recreating them). The words on the second and third pages are written by Langston Hughes. I would never attempt to create dialect like that.

I don’t remember why I chose this poem specifically, but during my MA in English Literature, I felt that comics and poetry shared a lot of traits, especially regarding contraction and the restraints of physical space. So I wanted to put that observation to practice. And I had loved Langston Hughes’s work for a long time and this poem had a character who I could focus on.

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