Muhammad Ali, muscled, poised and with a punch ready to be thrown, is captured in a rarely seen photograph taken by Abbas Attar at the Rumble in the Jungle, one of the boxer’s most famous matches, in 1974. In the next moment, illustrated by Rafael Ortiz, Ali delivers the blow to George Foreman, and the panel seems to reverberate from its force.
That powerful combination of photographs and comic book art is on display in a new graphic novel, “Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974,” which retells the events of the legendary heavyweight title fight in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The graphic novel, which is out on Tuesday, was written by Jean-David Morvan, who interviewed Abbas for his firsthand account and used the photographer’s archive of images to help tell the story. He also made Abbas, who died in 2018, the book’s narrator. A French edition of the graphic novel, which has colors by Hiroyuki Ooshima, was published last year.
Morvan is no stranger to this hybrid format. His graphic novels about the photojournalists Steve McCurry and Stanley Greene also combined comic book illustrations and photography. “I believe that photography and comics are very complementary because the comic is used to tell a long-form story and photography is an art of the instant, of the ‘here and now,’ of the fraction of a second,” he said in an email.