Understanding Comics is a unique graphic novel ABOUT graphic novels, but more importantly, it is about creating graphic novels. I felt compelled to read this book, even though I am not a comic artist, because it gave me the understanding of the “secret language” of comics and graphic novels. The book is clever and easy to read, but really gets at the core of the topic that so many readers love. Using effective illustrative and narrative styles, while explaining exactly why these styles are effective creates a harmonious union of form and content for the reader to absorb as they go.
Archive for Nonfiction
I loved Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. I appreciated Satrapi’s perception of the Iranian Revolution from the view of a child – a perspective of strife that is often denied or ignored many. Her story mirrors that of a friend of mine, whose family fled Iran – they were Baha’i, and there was no place for them in the Islamic Republic. Revolution is hard, sad, and deadly, and even more so because the lies outpace the truth. Satrapi appears to have spent her life as a survivor unflinchingly unveiling those truths, to come to an accord with the complex nature of historical events.
Review by: Holly Winzurk Freewynn, Portland, OR
Serially published in France as l’Ascension du Haut Mal between ’96 and 2003 by L’Association, the American translation appeared in its entirety as Epileptic in 2005. Epileptic chronicle’s the efforts of the Beauchard family as they struggle to treat their son’s severe epilepsy. The author explores the nature of his brother’s illness in an unsentimental manner as well as his own consuming fear that the illness is contagious. The author retreats into an increasingly elaborate fantasy world of mythology, cartoons, and war. I was initially drawn to this title because of the author’s unique visual style and intense illustrations. I quickly found the tragic narrative of familial angst difficult to resist and even more difficult to forget.
A story as sweet as the inspiration for its title, Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel about a six-week trip to Paris with her mother is a record of the many complexities that exist in a mother-daughter relationship. Told through black and white photos of her trip as well as bold illsutrations, the reader feels like they’re right alongside Lucy in the city of lights. While she doesn’t probe into her relationship with her mother as much as an author like Alison Bechdel would, French Milk is a breezy read that will ignite a reader’s desire to travel with a loved one.
Image via Powell’s.
The term “coming of age” is assigned to any book containing a mention of sex, teenagers, love lost or love gained. While it may be an overused term, it is the most fitting one to describe Blankets, a novel with gorgeous black and white illustrations and an equally beautiful story about a young man grappling with the confines of his strict religious upbringing and falling in love for the first time. Thompson does an excellent job of guiding the reader through these issues and letting them decide for themselves how they feel as they come out on the other side.
image via Powell’s.
Alison Bechdel’s starkly illustrated graphic novel Fun Home has Bechdel examining her flawed relationship with her father shortly after his sudden death. As an homage to his interest in canonical literature, the text is peppered with literary references, most of which serve as parallels for their relationship. She not only puts her family under a lens, but also her own burgeoning sexuality, as the book also follows her coming out as a lesbian in college. Fun Home may not be the peppiest read, but it’s a well-written, haunting story about family, love, and the lies we tell ourselves about both.
image via Powell’s.