Comic Stack 08/26/2016 – 5 Literary Graphic Novel Recommendations
Today, I was supposed to have a review of Vertigo’s The Names up. Unfortunately, due to some family things going on and some technical issues with the comic, the review likely won’t be up until next Wednesday. However, I’m not going to leave you hanging this week, my friends. Yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, where I chose comics for my fictional syllabus and talking with a few people about other awesome comics that would be great to teach in a comic book course, inspired this impromptu post. I thought I’d recommend five more literary focused graphic novels that readers who want something less superhero-y might be interested in and would be great to put on a syllabus.
Combined for the first time here are Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II – the complete story of Vladek Spiegelman and his wife, living and surviving in Hitler’s Europe. By addressing the horror of the Holocaust through cartoons, the author captures the everyday reality of fear and is able to explore the guilt, relief and extraordinary sensation of survival – and how the children of survivors are in their own way affected by the trials of their parents. A contemporary classic of immeasurable significance
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.
It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up. Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom—Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Mother—to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.
Shigeru Mizuki is the preeminent figure of Gekiga manga and one of the most famous working cartoonists in Japan today–a true living legend. Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths is his first book to be translated into English and is a semiautobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of WorldWar II. The soldiers are told that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive. Mizuki was a soldier himself (he was severely injured and lost an arm) and uses his experiences to convey the devastating consequences and moral depravity of the war.
South of the Mason-Dixon Line lies a strange land of gods and monsters; a world parallel to our own, born from centuries of slavery, civil war, and hate.
Lee Wagstaff is the daughter of a black sharecropper in the depression-era town of Charon, Mississippi. When Lily Westmoreland, her white playmate, is snatched by agents of an evil creature known as Bog, Lee’s father is accused of kidnapping. Lee’s only hope is to follow Lily’s trail into this fantastic and frightening alternate world. Along the way she enlists the help of a benevolent, blues singing, swamp monster called Bayou. Together, Lee and Bayou trek across a hauntingly familiar Southern Neverland, confronting creatures both benign and malevolent, in an effort to rescue Lily and save Lee’s father from being lynched
I’m thinking I may do a series of these literary focused comics because there are so many that I could introduce you to! There’s another freebie top ten coming up soon on Tuesday, so I may save some of them for then. Happy reading!