Big Black: Stand at Attica Tells True Story of Prison Uprising in Graphic Novel

Through it’s Archaia imprint, explosive publisher BOOM! Studios will publish Big Black: Stand at Attica, the graphic novel biography of the titular Frank “Big Black” Smith, co-written by Smith and Jared Reinmuth with art by Améziane in February. A press release provides more details on the book, which is set during the 1971 prison uprising at Attica.

LOS ANGELES, CA (August 2, 2019) – BOOM! Studios today announced a brand new original graphic novel, BIG BLACK: STAND AT ATTICA, written by Frank “Big Black” Smith and Jared Reinmuth and illustrated by Améziane (Muhammad Ali), available in stores February 2020. This is an unflinching look at the true story about the price of standing up to injustice in what remains one of the bloodiest civil rights confrontations in American history, told for the very first time from the man at the center of it all – Frank “Big Black” Smith.

In the summer of 1971, New York’s Attica State Prison was a symbol of everything broken in America – prisoner abuse, rampant racism and a blind eye turned towards the injustices perpetrated on the powerless. But when the guards at Attica overreacted to a minor incident, the prisoners decided they’d had enough – and revolted against their jailers, taking them hostage and making demands for humane conditions.

A natural leader, Frank “Big Black” Smith found himself at the center of this uprising, struggling to protect hostages, prisoners and negotiators alike. But when the only avenue for justice seemed to be negotiating with Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Big Black soon discovered that a peaceful resolution for the prisoners in Attica was unattainable.

Frank “Big Black” Smith was a former inmate at Attica prison who was tortured by officers following the deadly 1971 uprising. After his release from prison, he worked as a substance abuse counselor and devoted his life to becoming the voice of his fellow prisoners in a 26-year lawsuit against New York State. Smith later became an advocate for the Forgotten Victims of Attica, a group comprised of surviving hostages and relatives of the dead prison guards who were believed to have been encouraged to accept limited benefits which barred them from suing the state. Smith married in 1983, studied to be a paralegal, and worked as an investigator for lawyers. He passed away at 70 years old in Kingston, N.C., after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Pearl.

Here’s what Pearl Battle Smith had to say about the project:

My only wish would be that Frank was alive to experience and be a part of this, because he would love this. And he would leave us with this message: ‘The struggle continues.’ The struggle continues!

While writer Reinmuth adds:

In September of 1971, I was a small child sitting in the living room with my brother and sister as the events at Attica played out on television. My mother vowed that if we were ever in a position to contribute, we would help the Attica Brothers. Frank ‘Big Black’ Smith was our hero, and [the fact that] decades later he and his wife, Pearl, would trust me to attempt his biography stands as the honor of my life. But it was only with the addition of Améziane and his brilliant artwork that the project took flight. And when BOOM! Studios took us on, this story found its home. The opportunity to work with insightful and talented editors like Sierra Hahn and Allyson Gronowitz completes the circle to fulfill a promise made decades ago.

And Améziane says:

Jared felt certain that the biography of a legendary Attica Brother, Frank ‘Big Black’ Smith, was the perfect book for me. He was 100% right. Together, with the support of Frank’s family and those who for decades stood with the Attica Brothers, we strove humbly to do justice to a story much larger than ourselves. I couldn’t be more proud to present it to you.

Big Black: Stand at Attica will be released in February, 2020.

About Jude Terror

A prophecy says that in the comic book industry's darkest days, a hero will come to lead the people through a plague of overpriced floppies, incentive variant covers, #1 issue reboots, and super-mega-crossover events.

Scourge of Rich Johnston, maker of puns, and seeker of the Snyder Cut, Jude Terror, sadly, is not the hero comics needs right now... but he's the one the industry deserves.