Skip to main content
Trade Books For Courses Tradebooks for Courses

The Talk

Darrin Bell

Henry Holt and Co.

The Talk Download image

ISBN10: 1250805147
ISBN13: 9781250805140


352 Pages



Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Darrin Bell was six years old when his mother told him he couldn’t have a realistic water gun. She said she feared for his safety, that police tend to think of little Black boys as older and less innocent than they really are.

Through evocative illustrations and sharp humor, Bell examines how The Talk shaped intimate and public moments from childhood to adulthood. While coming of age in Los Angeles—and finding a voice through cartooning—Bell becomes painfully aware of being regarded as dangerous by white teachers, neighbors, and police officers and thus of his mortality. Drawing attention to the brutal murders of African Americans and showcasing revealing insights and cartoons along the way, he brings us up to the moment of reckoning when people took to the streets protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And now Bell must decide whether he and his own six-year-old son are ready to have The Talk.


Praise for The Talk

“A Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist draws on his childhood in Los Angeles to explore racism on a deeply personal level. There’s a poignancy, too, in the cyclical nature of the story: Bell, now a father, is wrestling with the same questions his own parents face.“The New York Times

"In The Talk, Bell combines the overtly personal and the sociopolitical in a textured autobiography that blends raw honestly, moving memories and powerful insights on race and police relations.”The Washington Post

“A stunning account of a young Black man navigating his way through Los Angeles and Berkeley in the 1980s and '90s, into life as a successful professional and father. The illustrations, fluctuating from the whimsically cartoonish to the painterly, are as multi-tiered and engrossing as Bell's narrative voice. Like Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, this epic portrait of an artist is destined for iconic status.“—NPR

“A thought-provoking memoir beautifully rendered in expressive artwork for a powerful piece that’s easy to devour but harder to digest. . . . Bell’s mastery of the medium shines throughout The Talk with stunning artwork that heightens the story to 11.”Associated Press

“Bell has honed his skills of cultural observation over many years as a social commentator in comic strips and editorial cartoons. He’s refined his skills up to the breaking point and back. This graphic novel is a testament to his efforts.”—Comics Grinder

“Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Darrin Bell’s new graphic memoir The Talk is an absorbing, creative examination of his life, richly illustrated with his drawings and told with great honesty, emotional candor, and humor.“—The Fanatic

“Propulsive reading, drawn with urgency and verve. Once you pick up The Talk, you won’t be able to put it down.”—Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home and The Secret to Superhuman Strength

“Darrin Bell’s first foray into graphic novels is a triumph. A cinematically comic, coming-of-age blend of race, culture, and gratuitous nerdity. Wonderful.”—Keith Knight, creator of The K Chronicles and Woke

“It’s nearly impossible to appreciate another person’s truth, but if a brilliant storyteller offers to light the way, take him up on it. Bell is the Ta-Nehisi Coates of comics, an indispensable explainer of how it feels to grow up in a world that repeatedly treats you as other. The talk with my white sons boiled down to 'Be kind.' It’s hard to overstate the distance between that admonition and 'Stay alive.'”—Garry Trudeau, creator of Doonesbury

“A deeply personal, brutally honest, and achingly funny graphic novel that captures the fear, trauma, and complexity of growing up as a biracial man in the USA. The Talk is a strikingly illustrated vision.”—Lalo Alcaraz, award-winning visual media artist and creator of the syndicated daily comic strip La Cucaracha

“A beautifully drawn book, rich with insight, humor, and hard-won knowledge.“Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This emotionally striking work is sure to leave a lasting mark.“Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Darrin Bell

Darrin Bell, recipient of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, the 2016 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning, the 2015 RFK Award for Editorial Cartooning, and UC Berkeley’s 2015 Daily Californian Alumni of the Year Award, began his career in 1995 at the age of twenty. While serving as the Daily Californian’s staff cartoonist, he began freelancing for the Opinion pages of the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Oakland Tribune. In 1997, he cocreated the comic strip Rudy Park and self-syndicated it to technology magazines. United Media launched it into newspapers in 2001. In 2003, Darrin launched his other comic strip, Candorville, in newspapers via the Washington Post Writers Group (WPWG), which also began syndicating his editorial cartoons in 2013. While WPWG still syndicates Candorville and Rudy Park, Darrin moved his editorial cartoons to King Features Syndicate in late 2018. He’s also a contributing cartoonist for the New Yorker. Darrin lives with his wife and four children in California.

Darrin Bell

Official Links