The silence.

The Silence of Our Friends is a well-written and fabulously illustrated story about two families' lives, in Houston, Texas, during the late 1960s. The action is based on one of the author's (Mark Long) experiences and takes place between two families—one black, one white—around an infamous race-riot on a local campus. The riot resulted in the death of one police officer and the arrest of five students.

But none of that is important.

What's important is that, as a piece of Civil Rights era storytelling, The Silence of Our Friends is a fabulous read. It picks through the major differences in relationships between blacks and whites in a way only a graphic novel can. Nate Powell's ink wash technique can go from warm and homespun to frenetic and harrowing in one panel.

The story itself is full of tension and all the moments that make up real life as these two families struggle to connect in an environment that is vehemently opposed to such a thing. I found myself grinding my teeth waiting for what I felt was the inevitable, horrible, and saddening event that typically drives such stories. I won't drop any spoilers, but the expected horrible events did nothing but enhance the story. Well worth the read from front to back, this fictionalized account from a lesser-known event in Civil Rights history is thoroughly enjoyable.

For me, there is some small irony that it's almost always the white kids who grow up capable of committing a story like this to comic format. It serves as another damaging remnant, in my opinion, of the 500-year struggle for equal access and standing. I am heartened, however, that more and more non-whites are successfully entering the comic storytelling format.