Just in time to celebrate the landmark institution’s 85th anniversary, writer Ted Fox and artist James Otis Smith bring to life Harlem’s legendary theater in Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem’s Legendary Theater (Abrams ComicArts; January 8, 2019; $24.99; Hardcover), a graphic novel adaptation of Fox’s definitive, critically acclaimed work. Since its inception as an African American theater in 1934, the Apollo has led the way in the presentation of swing, bebop, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, soul, funk, and hip-hop—along with the latest in dance and comedy. The Apollo’s artistic genius inspired the imagination of the world, and it became a uniquely special place for its artists and community. The theater has nurtured and featured thousands of artists, many of whom have become legends. Some would call them heroes. The beauty they have given the world—their art—transcends the hatred, ignorance, and intolerance that they often faced.
Setting the scene at today’s Apollo, where its legend lures top stars like JAY-Z, Bruce Springsteen, and President Obama, Showtime at the Apollo takes readers through the sweeping history of one of America’s most important and mythic cultural institutions. The book shows how the Apollo both shaped and was shaped by its times. The story is told by those who lived it, including Billie Holiday, James Brown, Dionne Warwick, and a host of other great African-American performers, many of whose careers were launched at the Apollo. With Smith’s breathtaking art, this graphic novel illuminates the theater’s legendary significance in music, African American history, and American popular culture. It is, as Fox writes, “the stuff of which myths are made.”
Ted Fox is the author of Showtime at the Apollo: The Story of Harlem’s World Famous Theater—the definitive and only full-scale history of Harlem’s legendary showplace and the source material for this graphic novel adaptation—and In the Groove, a collection of interviews with those who have shaped the music industry. He was also the longtime manager and producer for Grammy Award-winning artist Buckwheat Zydeco. He lives in upstate New York.
James Otis Smith is a multitalented artist whose work spans illustration, comics, motion graphics, and video. Formerly a member of the Act-i-vate Comics collective, he designed and illustrated the children’s book Madunia: Stories of the Ancient Lands with writer James McCammon, among other titles. Smith lives in Brooklyn, New York. Showtime at the Apollo is his debut graphic novel.