Graphic Narrative Reviews

The Book of Sarah

THE BOOK OF SARAH, a graphic memoir by Sarah Lightman, reviewed by Emily Steinberg

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Sarah Lightman's poignant, engrossing and poetic graphic memoir, The Book of Sarah , leads the reader on an epic odyssey, moving back and forth in time, from the author’s early twenties as an uncertain, dependent, and depressed young artist to a confident forty-five-year-old woman who is finally the architect of her own life ...
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Passing for Human cover art

PASSING FOR HUMAN: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR by Liana Finck reviewed by Alexandra Kanovsky

Liana Finck wants to be seen. In creating Passing for Human, a graphic memoir and her second full-length work, she constructs her life story as Leola, and in doing so fantastically reimagines her youth and early adulthood in a quest to be seen and heard—by peers, by readers, and by herself ...
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CARTOON DIALECTICS, a series by Tom Kaczynski, reviewed by Julia Alekseyeva

CARTOON DIALECTICS, a series by Tom Kaczynski, reviewed by Julia Alekseyeva

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The Cartoon Dialectics series collects work that Tom Kaczynski has published in anthologies since 2005. Kaczynski is perhaps best known for being the publisher of comics imprint Uncivilized Books, an independent press that has published works by Gabrielle Bell, David B., and Noah Van Sciver. As the title Cartoon Dialectics suggests, Kaczynski’s own work straddles the line between comics and philosophy; he weaves together reflections on culture and critical theory with memoir and memory ...
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THE BEST WE COULD DO: AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR by Thi Bui reviewed by Jenny Blair

THE BEST WE COULD DO: AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR by Thi Bui reviewed by Jenny Blair

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The Best We Could Do begins with birth. Thi Bui is a first-time mother in California, and her own mother--despite having flown across the country to be there--has quietly excused herself from the delivery room ...
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IMAGINE WANTING ONLY THIS, a graphic novel by Kristen Radtke, reviewed by Jenny Blair

IMAGINE WANTING ONLY THIS, a graphic novel by Kristen Radtke, reviewed by Jenny Blair

If we felt attached to and invested in the ground beneath our feet, how would the world be different? What’s the difference between feeling rooted in a place and feeling stuck there? And how is one to face the facts of geographic and human impermanence? ...
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MOONCOP, a graphic novel by Tom Gauld, reviewed by Ansel Shipley

MOONCOP, a graphic novel by Tom Gauld, reviewed by Ansel Shipley

Melancholy can be a difficult tone for authors to elicit. Paired with too much unwarranted levity, or depicted as flat sadness without the requisite quiet contemplation, it can easily shift to the maudlin. Tom Gauld’s graphic novel, Mooncop, manages to delicately balance the emptiness of outer space with the intimacy of solitude, a tone which stayed with me days after putting the book down. Gauld packs an impressive amount of feeling into a tiny package—Mooncop is less than a hundred pages long and takes a maximum of thirty minutes to finish. I never felt overwhelmed by any single emotion, however, ...
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SOVIET DAUGHTER: A GRAPHIC REVOLUTION by Julia Alekseyeva reviewed by Jenny Blair

SOVIET DAUGHTER: A GRAPHIC REVOLUTION by Julia Alekseyeva reviewed by Jenny Blair

Julia Alekseyeva’s Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution could hardly have come at a better time. A Soviet-born woman who emigrated with her multigenerational Jewish family to the U.S. in 1992, the author entwines her great-grandmother Lola’s life story with her own, translating Lola’s own written memoir into part of a double narrative. As we all struggle to make sense of the Trump era, Alekseyeva has written and drawn a story of autocracy, revolution, and the refugee experience--and of how history affects the private lives not just of its eyewitnesses, but of many subsequent generations ...
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ROLLING BLACKOUTS: DISPATCHES FROM TURKEY, SYRIA, AND IRAQ, a work of graphic journalism by Sarah Glidden, reviewed by Brian Burmeister

ROLLING BLACKOUTS: DISPATCHES FROM TURKEY, SYRIA, AND IRAQ, a work of graphic journalism by Sarah Glidden, reviewed by Brian Burmeister

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Throughout its 300-plus pages, Rolling Blackouts provides valuable historical contexts and multiple viewpoints to help any reader better understand the region and its people. Glidden incorporates the voices of government officials, aid workers, refugees – even a former terror suspect, among many others, in order to showcase the complicated realities of life in those countries. We meet those whose lives were improved from the Iraq War as well as those whose lives were destroyed. We meet those who love the United States, and those who say, “I don’t want to bring children into a country that could be bombed by ...
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OCTAVIA E. BUTLER’S KINDRED: A GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION by Damian Duffy and John Jennings reviewed by Brian Burmeister

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER’S KINDRED: A GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION by Damian Duffy and John Jennings reviewed by Brian Burmeister

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OCTAVIA E. BUTLER’S KINDRED: A GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION by Damian Duffy and John Jennings Abrams Comicarts, 240 pages reviewed by Brian Burmeister Crowned the “grand dame of science fiction” by Essence, Octavia Butler was one of the most popular and critically acclaimed science fiction writers of the 20th century. Her career spanned over a dozen novels and, among her many awards and honors,  Butler was the first science fiction writer to win a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, before being cut short. In 2006, she  tragically passed away at the age of fifty-eight. Thirty-eight years after its original publication, ...
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MARCH, a graphic narrative by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell reviewed, by Brian Burmeister

MARCH, a graphic narrative by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell reviewed, by Brian Burmeister

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Spanning three volumes, which are available separately or as a single collection, March covers key years of civil rights leader Lewis’s life and the battles for justice he experienced firsthand. The writers skillfully frame the overarching narrative of all three books as Rep. Lewis reflects upon the Civil Rights Movement during President Barack Obama’s historic inauguration in 2009 ...
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COSPLAYERS, a graphic narrative by Dash Shaw, reviewed by Nathan Chazan

COSPLAYERS, a graphic narrative by Dash Shaw, reviewed by Nathan Chazan

Throughout the pages of Cosplayers, the new book by noted cartoonist Dash Shaw, the narrative presents a series of illustrations of the titular subject: people dressed in costumes based on favorite characters from popular fandom—comics, television, video games, all the things that we like to call “geek culture.” Set against increasingly baroque pop-art patterns, Shaw’s cosplayers will be immediately recognizable to anyone who has ever perused photos of a comic convention—dynamic figures from popular culture evoked by the mundane reality of fans in uncomfortable outfits under the harsh lighting of the convention floor ...
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HOT DOG TASTE TEST, a graphic narrative, by Lisa Hanawalt reviewed by Matthew Horowitz

HOT DOG TASTE TEST, a graphic narrative, by Lisa Hanawalt reviewed by Matthew Horowitz

Purists beware: this book contains very little analysis and comparison of actual hot dogs. Perhaps best known as the designer of Bojack Horseman, Lisa Hanawalt draws the way children laugh. In Hot Dog Taste Test, she brings haphazard looking outlines to life with vivid watercolors to depict an exploration of sensory staples. Breakfast is moralized, street food is ranked and deconstructed, horses are ridden, otters are swum with, birds are everywhere—some with exaggerated human genitalia, some with understated human anxieties ...
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PEPLUM, a graphic narrative by Blutch, reviewed by Nathan Chazan

PEPLUM, a graphic narrative by Blutch, reviewed by Nathan Chazan

The French cartoonist Blutch is known for creating beautifully illustrated graphic novels in response to great works of art and literature, and Peplum is one of his finest. The comic is a postmodern refashioning of Petronius’s mid-first century proto-novel The Satyricon, which ditches the original's gluttonous decadence under Nero’s reign in favor of the chaotic end of the Late Roman Republic ...
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OPERATION NEMESIS, a graphic narrative by Josh Baylock reviewed by Jesse Allen

OPERATION NEMESIS, a graphic narrative by Josh Baylock reviewed by Jesse Allen

Written by Josh Baylock, drawn by Hoyt Silva, and produced by David H. Krikorian, Operation Nemesis is the story of the early 20th century Armenian genocide and the tale of the eventual murder of that genocide’s architect. While this is a tale of Turkey’s then leader and dictator Talaat Pasha’s annihilation of over one million Armenians during World War I, the story of that atrocity unfolds through the trial and eventual acquittal of the assassin, Soghomon Tehlirsan. Historically rich, this graphic novel reads like a storyboard to a cinematic rendering of this tragic narrative. Each panel is vivid in its ...
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PATIENCE, a graphic narrative by Daniel Clowes reviewed by Amy Victoria Blakemore

PATIENCE, a graphic narrative by Daniel Clowes reviewed by Amy Victoria Blakemore

Patience demands to be read twice: first, as a who-done-it, and second, as a who-are-you. On the surface, Daniel Clowes has written a murder mystery. When newlywed Jack Barlow finds his pregnant wife, Patience, dead in their apartment, he begins an obsessive hunt to identify her killer. He hires a private investigator. He time travels into her past, attempting to understand who could enact such violence. He begins a journey into the wide expanse of what he never knew about his wife—a terrain that expands for years. This is a story about meeting the person you love much later than ...
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THE OVEN, a graphic narrative by Sophie Goldstein, reviewed by Brian Burmeister

THE OVEN, a graphic narrative by Sophie Goldstein, reviewed by Brian Burmeister

Recently nominated for the Cartoonist Studio’s Prize for Best Print Comic of the Year, The Oven is a wonderful example of character-driven science fiction. In what might take a typical reader less than one minute, author/illustrator Sophie Goldstein quickly, yet carefully, establishes both the setting and a compelling story. From the very first page, Goldstein introduces the reader to a dystopian world in which futuristic cities are shielded from an ultra-lethal sun by protective domes. On the same page, one sees the protagonists, Syd and Eric, a young couple, leave that society for the communal, technology-free living of “the Oven, ...
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AGONY, a graphic narrative by Mark Beyer reviewed by Nathan Chazan

AGONY, a graphic narrative by Mark Beyer reviewed by Nathan Chazan

It’s difficult to write about any individual Mark Beyer comic. His works return to the same characters, motifs and events, so particular to his voice that a broad description of a Beyer comic can just as easily describe his entire oeuvre. Beyer draws nihilistic stories about life going from bad to worse, usually focusing on Amy and Jordan, a couple whose life is beyond bleak. His art is childlike and dementedly unreal; bizarre forms and wonky perspectives, complemented by obsessive, handmade stippling, create an atmosphere of fanatical intensity. The language of Amy and Jordan stories are almost drab in their ...
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THE ETERNAUT, a graphic narrative by Héctor Germán Oesterheld reviewed by Natalie Pendergast

THE ETERNAUT, a graphic narrative by Héctor Germán Oesterheld reviewed by Natalie Pendergast

Deadly, beautiful “flakes” falling gently, the bodies they touch folding neatly to the ground. The light thrower, a powerful weapon that spotlights your death, as though stage fright wasn’t real enough. Sinister devices “plugged in” to the necks of robot men, long before The Matrix was even a twinkle in the Wachowski Brothers’ eye. All of these: combining to form layers of artful threats to your well-being, like different sections of an orchestra imbricated and inter-punctuated to form a unified song. This is the world we enter upon reading the Eternaut’s, also known as Juan Salvo’s, recounted story. More: hallucinogenic, ...
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A GIRL ON THE SHORE, a graphic narrative by Inio Asano, reviewed by Nathan Chazan

A GIRL ON THE SHORE, a graphic narrative by Inio Asano, reviewed by Nathan Chazan

A GIRL ON THE SHORE by Inio Asano Vertical Comics, 406 pages reviewed by Nathan Chazan In a 2013 interview, Inio Asano cites learning the phrase “chunibyo” as an inspiration for A Girl on the Shore. A Japanese meme, “chunibyo” translates roughly to “Eighth Grader Syndrome,” and describes an early adolescent’s tendency to aspire to and imitate the adult behaviors that she is too young to understand. The comic, a direct and emotionally intense story about two early adolescents who enter a sexual relationship, functions as a parable of “chunibyo,” exploring this youthful desire to seem more mature as well ...
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THE ARAB OF THE FUTURE, a graphic narrative by Riad Sattouf, reviewed by Jesse Allen

THE ARAB OF THE FUTURE, a graphic narrative by Riad Sattouf, reviewed by Jesse Allen

THE ARAB OF THE FUTURE by Riad Sattouf Metropolitan Books, 160 pages reviewed by Jesse Allen As a memoir of childhood, color plays a prominent role in Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future. Different locations and environments take on a range of hues, beginning with the blunt red-black-and-green cover. On it, Gaddafi’s handsome and commanding image on a billboard salutes Riad’s parents as they walk past while he, uncolored, rides his father’s shoulders. He looks to the salute as if it were another adult doting on him, a golden haired child. Over the course of the memoir, scenes that ...
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LOSE 7 by Michael DeForge reviewed by Nathan Chazan

LOSE 7 by Michael DeForge reviewed by Nathan Chazan

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LOSE 7 by Michael DeForge Koyama Press, 52 pages reviewed by Nathan Chazan The most recent installment of Michael Deforge’s one-man anthology series Lose features three new stories from the artist: two shorter pieces surrounding a longer work, which form a sort of triptych. Unlike earlier issues, Lose 7 lacks a subtitle alluding to a loose theme connecting the stories within (“The Fashion Issue” and “The Clubs Issue”). But if I were to choose a title for this seventh issue I might go with “The Growing Up Issue”, or perhaps “The Dysphoria Issue”. The three stories reflect how identities are ...
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THE DEVIL AND WINNIE FLYNN by Micol Ostow and David Ostow reviewed by Rachael Tague

THE DEVIL AND WINNIE FLYNN by Micol Ostow and David Ostow reviewed by Rachael Tague

THE DEVIL AND WINNIE FLYNN by Micol Ostow illustrated by David Ostow Soho Teen, 326 pages reviewed by Rachael Tague I don’t like to be scared. I can’t stand that chill-in-the-air, breath-on-my-neck, sweat-in-my-palm terror that comes with horror stories. The last time I tried to read a scary book, I was twelve, and I flipped to the epilogue before I was halfway through to relieve the tension. That’s the only time I’ve ever read the end of a book without reading everything in between. But if I had the option to stop in the middle of The Devil and Winnie ...
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LONG WALK TO VALHALLA by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox reviewed by Brazos Price

LONG WALK TO VALHALLA by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox reviewed by Brazos Price

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LONG WALK TO VALHALLA by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox Archaia, 96 pages reviewed by Brazos Price In Long Walk to Valhalla, a graphic novel by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox, we follow a young man named Rory as he winds his way back through memories of his childhood in rural Arkansas. Rory and Joe are brothers, but so much more. Rory is Joe’s protector. Joe has difficulty speaking and is prone to strange trances in which he sees visions of "Pretty Things," surreal-looking creatures that are not exactly monsters but certainly not part of the normal landscape of Arkansas ...
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DOCTORS by Dash Shaw reviewed by Brian Burmeister

DOCTORS by Dash Shaw reviewed by Brian Burmeister

DOCTORS by Dash Shaw Fantagraphics Books, 96 pages reviewed by Brian Burmeister What is it that awaits us after death? In his graphic novel, Doctors, artist/writer Dash Shaw creates a world in which each afterlife is unique, generated from one’s own memories with assistance from a newly-invented medical device, the Charon. Throughout Doctors, Shaw showcases skillful storytelling. The world he creates is inventive and fascinating. From the beginning, he successfully pulls in the reader with the story’s sense of mystery. One quickly wonders what is real as the initial central character of Miss Bell struggles to make sense of a ...
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YOU DON’T SAY by Nate Powell reviewed by Stephanie Trott

YOU DON’T SAY by Nate Powell reviewed by Stephanie Trott

YOU DON’T SAY by Nate Powell Top Shelf Productions, 176 pages reviewed by Stephanie Trott Given ten years, an artist can undergo a series of personal evolutions that may come to mark them as a master. Among these seasoned individuals sits Nate Powell, a graphic novelist who has been writing and self-publishing since the age of fourteen. His most recent collection, You Don’t Say, presents seventeen short stories written over the course of a decade that celebrate the range of realizations that contribute to our inevitable maturation. Targeting a young adult audience, these narratives are relatable to all who are ...
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ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND by Box Brown reviewed by Brian Burmeister

ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND by Box Brown reviewed by Brian Burmeister

ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND by Box Brown First Second Books, 240 pages reviewed by Brian Burmeister For a generation of professional wrestling fans, Andre Roussimoff was a giant, both as a man (he stood seven-feet, four-inches tall and weighed 500 pounds) and as an icon (he was one of the most successful and beloved wrestlers of all time). In telling Andre’s story, author/illustrator Box Brown did his homework. A life-long fan of professional wrestling, Brown draws upon interviews with those who personally knew Andre as well archival footage in an effort to show a complete and accurate portrayal ...
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BLACK RIVER by Josh Simmons reviewed by Stephanie Trott

BLACK RIVER by Josh Simmons reviewed by Stephanie Trott

BLACK RIVER by Josh Simmons Fantagraphics Books, 110 pages reviewed by Stephanie Trott Despite society’s wonderment over advances of the human race, we are nonetheless fascinated by hypotheses of how the world may one day cease to exist. And while prophecies of rapture have yet to prove veritable, there exist countless fictional renderings of a post-apocalyptic Earth. The medium of graphic narrative has long played host to such tales, from the teenage plague that dominates Charles Burns’s iconic Black Hole to the psychedelic stylings of anarchist rebel Tank Girl. In this spirit comes Josh Simmons’s Black River, which follows a ...
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FIRST YEAR HEALTHY by Michael DeForge reviewed by Travis DuBose

FIRST YEAR HEALTHY by Michael DeForge reviewed by Travis DuBose

FIRST YEAR HEALTHY by Michael DeForge Drawn and Quarterly, 48 pages reviewed by Travis DuBose In Michael DeForge’s short, gnomic First Year Healthy, terse declarative prose is set alongside hallucinatory artwork to create a sense of unease and unreality that deepens over the course of the narrative. First Year Healthy is the illustrated monologue of an unnamed young woman describing her life after being released from psychiatric care for an unspecified “public outburst.” The details of the story are delivered flatly, no matter how outrageous or impossible, casting each new revelation in the same terms as the last. In fact, ...
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SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY by Jillian Tamaki reviewed by Jesse Allen

SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY by Jillian Tamaki reviewed by Jesse Allen

SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY by Jillian Tamaki Drawn & Quarterly, 2015 reviewed by Jesse Allen Awkwardness is the hallmark of adolescence. Teenagers going off to boarding school or college find themselves entering a particularly unstable social realm for the first time. Having mutant superpowers or knowing the secrets of magic can help overcome this awkwardness—or it can exacerbate it. Part Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and part Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters, SuperMutant Magic Academy paints a whimsical, snarky, and heartwarming picture of this period of youth. The cover of SuperMutant Magic Academy features Marsha, bored and surrounded by ...
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BORB by Jason Little reviewed by Jesse Allen

BORB by Jason Little reviewed by Jesse Allen

BORB by Jason Little Uncivilized Books, 96 pages reviewed by Jesse Allen Is Borb a graphic novel or comic strip? Packaged as both, the reader is treated to various juxtapositions that jar as well as entertain and enlighten. Illustrated in a style reminiscent of Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie, Borb’s main character is out of time. Homeless and alcoholic, he constantly stumbles into mishaps, finding resolutions that quickly fall apart and lead him into more desperate circumstances. But what we know and learn about him is very little, as alcoholism is the main character throughout this tale. He is able ...
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DISPLACEMENT by Lucy Knisley reviewed by Travis DuBose

DISPLACEMENT by Lucy Knisley reviewed by Travis DuBose

DISPLACEMENT by Lucy Knisley Fantagraphics, 168 pages reviewed by Travis DuBose Lucy Knisley’s Displacement follows her previous graphic travelogues focused on carefree adventures in Europe with a diary about aging and constriction. In the winter of 2012 Knisley accompanied her elderly grandparents on a cruise through the Caribbean, a vacation that, given her grandparents’ condition—her grandmother was suffering from advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and her grandfather was mentally sharp but physically frail—was, by her own admission, ill-advised and possibly dangerous. As she recounts the difficulties of caring for her grandparents, Knisley ruminates on the role they’ve played in the life ...
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THE SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud reviewed by Amy Victoria Blakemore

THE SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud reviewed by Amy Victoria Blakemore

THE SCULPTOR by Scott McCloud First Second Books, 488 pages reviewed by Amy Blakemore Scott McCloud is a mentor. Most first meet him in Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, where he instantly disarms with his bespectacled, plaid glory, celebrating and clarifying the medium for readers. Witnessing McCloud usher original characters into the world with the same warmth and care in The Sculptor, his new graphic novel, is nothing short of a privilege. Rarely do we find characters presented in a manner I am compelled to call gentle: set down on the page as if being laid into bed, allowed to ...
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THE DEATH OF ARCHIE: A LIFE CELEBRATED by Paul Kupperberg et al reviewed by Natalie Pendergast

THE DEATH OF ARCHIE: A LIFE CELEBRATED by Paul Kupperberg et al reviewed by Natalie Pendergast

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The-Death-of-Archie-coverTHE DEATH OF ARCHIE: A LIFE CELEBRATED Text by Paul Kupperberg; Illustrations by Pat Kennedy, Paul Kennedy and Fernando Ruiz Archie Comic Publications, Inc., 113 pages reviewed by Natalie Pendergast The Death of Archie: A Life Celebrated is the long-awaited two-part finale of the Life with Archie series, the most recent incarnation of which began in 2010. The series is a revival of the original Life with Archie comics that, along with spin-offs like Pals ‘n’ Gals and Betty and Veronica, began in the ’50s, spanned several decades, and consisted of hundreds of issues. Unlike the other variant series, however, ...
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Celebrated Summer

CELEBRATED SUMMER by Charles Forsman reviewed by Stephanie Trott

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CELEBRATED SUMMER by Charles Forsman Fantagraphics Books, 67 pages reviewed by Stephanie Trott For the first potion of one’s life, summer is a welcome three-month respite from the seemingly stressful remainder of the year. Like the buds of a flower, it is a period of joy in the face of few commitments and responsibilities. But somewhere, as those flowers begin to fade and adolescence sets in, we become forlornly reminiscent of those times as we’re caught in-between one concrete stage of life and another. Charles Forsman’s Celebrated Summer tells of one such swan song, recalling the alternating experiences of two ...
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This One Summer

THIS ONE SUMMER by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki reviewed by Natalie Pendergast

THIS ONE SUMMER text by Mariko Tamaki illustrations by Jillian Tamaki First Second Books, 320 pages, reviewed by Natalie Pendergast Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s 2014 graphic novel This One Summer follows the lives of two summer cottage friends in their early teens. Rose and Windy spend this last summer of innocence testing the proverbial waters of adolescence as well as the actual waters of the Awago Beach where their families summer. The girls have heard things over the years, things about miscarriages and abortions, but this one summer, they experience the emotions of women and girls who are actually entangled ...
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THE FORGOTTEN MAN: A New History of the Great Depression Graphic Edition reviewed by Jesse Allen

THE FORGOTTEN MAN: A New History of the Great Depression Graphic Edition reviewed by Jesse Allen

THE FORGOTTEN MAN: A New History of the Great Depression Graphic Edition text by Amity Shlaes illustrations by Paul Rivoche 320 pages, Harper Perennial reviewed by Jesse Allen The new graphic novel edition of Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man, illustrated by Paul Rivoche, is a thorough historical account of America during the Great Depression years. From the starkly illustrated cover of the masses—grim faced men with shadows for eyes, in a sea of Stetson wearing unfortunates—to the beautifully rendered illustrative black and white style on each page, this book is a visual treat. Spanning from 1927 to 1940, Shlaes is able ...
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A BINTEL BRIEF: LOVE AND LONGING IN OLD NEW YORK by Liana Finck reviewed by Ana Schwartz

A BINTEL BRIEF: LOVE AND LONGING IN OLD NEW YORK by Liana Finck reviewed by Ana Schwartz

A BINTEL BRIEF: LOVE AND LONGING IN OLD NEW YORK by Liana Finck Ecco Press, 128 pages reviewed by Ana Schwartz There’s a new sort of fiction circulating, stories of young people, by young people, for young people. This isn’t YA lit. These stories range across genres, even mediums, but they all describe the ambivalence of maturing in post-post-modernity. These narratives share a sense of lostness and reflective self-estrangement. The authors are smart and the narratives are smartly-dressed. They usually take place in New York. Think Frances Ha or Tai Pei or Girls. And if, as one well-respected author of ...
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OUTSIDE THE BOX: INTERVIEWS WITH CONTEMPORARY CARTOONISTS by Hillary L. Chute reviewed by Seamus O'Malley

OUTSIDE THE BOX: INTERVIEWS WITH CONTEMPORARY CARTOONISTS by Hillary L. Chute reviewed by Seamus O’Malley

OUTSIDE THE BOX: INTERVIEWS WITH CONTEMPORARY CARTOONISTS By Hillary L. Chute University of Chicago Press, 272 Pages reviewed by Seamus O'Malley Outside the Box: Interviews with Contemporary Cartoonists by Hillary Chute contains interviews with Scott McCloud, Charles Burns, Lynda Barry, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Daniel Clowes, Phoebe Gloeckner, Joe Sacco, Alison Bechdel, Françoise Mouly, Adrian Tomine, Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware. If you know comics you’ll recognize this as the auteur scene, and if you don’t you’ve just been given your starter syllabus. Many of these interviews appeared before, especially in Believer magazine, but those have been expanded, and several others are ...
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MAURICE SENDAK: A CELEBRATION OF THE ARTIST AND HIS WORK

MAURICE SENDAK: A CELEBRATION OF THE ARTIST AND HIS WORK reviewed by Tahneer Oksman

MAURICE SENDAK: A CELEBRATION OF THE ARTIST AND HIS WORK Curated by Justin G. Schiller and Dennis M.V. David Edited by Leonard S. Marcus Harry N. Abrams Press, 224 pages reviewed by Tahneer Oksman In a collaborative comic strip published in The New Yorker in 1993, cartoon versions of Art Spiegelman and Maurice Sendak amble through a forest littered with their own creations peeking out at them from the background. Sendak’s character wisely pontificates, “Childhood is deep and rich. It’s vital, mysterious, and profound. I remember my own childhood vividly…” In the final panel, he adds, “I knew terrible things ...
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ON LOVING WOMEN by Diane Obomsawin reviewed by Amy Victoria Blakemore

ON LOVING WOMEN by Diane Obomsawin reviewed by Amy Victoria Blakemore

ON LOVING WOMEN by Diane Obomsawin Drawn & Quarterly, 94 pages reviewed by Amy Victoria Blakemore “On Loving Women”: it sounds like a treatise. But Diane Obomsawin does not deliver the usual tome with this intimately illustrated collection of coming out stories, nor does she intend to. In contrast to similarly named philosophical texts such as Aristotle's On the Soul or Arthur Schopenhaur’s infamous On Women, On Loving Women presents ten vignettes of first love without explanation or elaboration: they are whole ideas, answers unto themselves. And they are utterly delightful to read. Obomsawin begins each short narrative ...
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Encyclopedia of Early Earth

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARLY EARTH by Isabel Greenberg reviewed by Stephanie Trott

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THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARLY EARTH by Isabel Greenberg Little, Brown and Company, 176 Pages Reviewed by Stephanie Trott There is no sole way to tell the story of our planet. Whether one chooses to uphold a belief rooted in science, religion, or some amalgamation of the two, our interpretation of man’s early days will never be a precise match to that of our neighbor. Many origin stories regarding that ancient spark of life cross cultures that span the globe, each holding vaguely similar elements and lessons with the introduction of new heroes, heroines, beasts, and locations. Isabel Greenberg has taken ...
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LITTLE FISH: A MEMOIR OF A DIFFERENT KIND OF YEAR by Ramsey Beyer reviewed by Stephanie Trott

LITTLE FISH: A MEMOIR OF A DIFFERENT KIND OF YEAR by Ramsey Beyer reviewed by Stephanie Trott

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LITTLE FISH: A MEMOIR OF A DIFFERENT KIND OF YEAR by Ramsey Beyer Zest Books, 272 pages Reviewed by Stephanie Trott It’s a familiar notion, the sense of being a little fish in a big pond. This awareness may arrive at an early age for some, while running inexplicably late for others. But for eighteen-year-old Ramsey Beyer, a lover of lists, lakes, and bonfires, this epiphany arrives with a traditional right-of-passage: the start of college. Beyer, now ten years beyond this awakening, chronicles her transition from Midwest high school senior to city-savvy first year art student in her debut memoir, ...
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MY DIRTY DUMB EYES by Lisa Hanawalt reviewed by Margaret Galvan

MY DIRTY DUMB EYES by Lisa Hanawalt reviewed by Margaret Galvan

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MY DIRTY DUMB EYES by Lisa Hanawalt Drawn and Quarterly, 120 pages Reviewed by Margaret Galvan My Dirty Dumb Eyes, released last May, may be comic artist Lisa Hanawalt’s debut text with a major publisher, but it highlights her preexisting popularity. Indeed, Hanawalt’s text shows its chops through its diverse array of humorous comic vignettes often originally commissioned for well-known print and internet periodicals—from New York Magazine to The Hairpin. A few months prior to its release, one of these comics, “The Secret Lives of Chefs,” first printed in the pages of Lucky Peach—a magazine co-created by Momofuku-founder, David ...
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Pachyderme

PACHYDERME by Frederik Peeters reviewed by Brazos Price

Pachyderme PACHYDERME by Frederik Peeters translated from the French by Edward Gauvin Harry N. Abrams Press SelfMadeHero imprint, 88 pages Reviewed by Brazos Price  A cinematic opening: a woman’s heeled boot, a 1950’s traffic jam in bucolic Romandie, a downed elephant.  

Pachyderme-1

Carice Sorrel, a woman who “simply must get to the hospital,” to see her husband who has been in an accident, heads into the woods rather than wait for the elephant to be removed.  In Pachyderme, by Frederik Peeters, this transition from the road – through the woods – and into the hospital, quickly feels like a ...
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WE WON’T SEE AUSCHWITZ By Jérémie Dres reviewed by Stephanie Trott

WE WON’T SEE AUSCHWITZ By Jérémie Dres reviewed by Stephanie Trott

graphic narrative reviews, reviews /
WE WON’T SEE AUSCHWITZ by Jérémie Dres SelfMadeHero, 199 pages Reviewed by Stephanie Trott Everyone has a story, a collection of historical inner workings and familial memories that makes us who we are. But not all desire or are able to physically retrace the steps of those who laid our ancestral foundation. In We Won’t See Auschwitz, author Jérémie Dres does precisely that: embarking on a pilgrimage to Poland in search of the “drop of cool water from a spring” that he likens to his Grandma Thérèse, Dres winds his way through the history of the country and ...
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The Property by Rutu Modan reviewed by Amelia Moulis

The Property by Rutu Modan reviewed by Amelia Moulis

THE PROPERTY by Rutu Modan Drawn and Quarterly, 222 pages reviewed by Amelia Moulis A family secret.  A tragic love affair.  This could well be any book of the last millennia, and yet in Rutu Modan’s latest graphic novel, The Property, fresh life is given to these age-old tropes.  After receiving the 2008 Eisner for her first foray into adult graphic novels with Exit Wounds, Modan’s second novel further cements her talent in exploiting the subtleties of the medium. Where Exit Wounds is a fast-paced and chaotic adventure, The Property follows similar themes in a calmer setting as a grandmother and ...
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RELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN By Lucy Knisley reviewed by Stephanie Trott

RELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN By Lucy Knisley reviewed by Stephanie Trott

graphic narrative reviews, reviews /
RELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN by Lucy Knisley First Second Books, 173 pages Reviewed by Stephanie Trott Never crowd the mushrooms. It’s a mantra recited time and time again in cookbooks, culinary shows, and even some Hollywood films. But without understanding what this actually means, as one’s interpretation will invariably differ from another’s, the only result is a disappointingly inconsistent sauté. In the absence of visual representation, one may interpret crowding as tight as a tin of sardines or as light as a bag of fluffy marshmallows.

Mushrooms

Enter Lucy Knisley and her graphic memoir Relish: My Life In ...
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CALLING DR LAURA By Nicole J Georges reviewed by Amelia Moulis

CALLING DR LAURA By Nicole J Georges reviewed by Amelia Moulis

graphic narrative reviews /
CALLING DR LAURA By Nicole J Georges Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 260 pages reviewed by Amelia Moulis Nicole J Georges’ Calling Dr Laura, is an acerbic and intelligent addition to the graphic memoirs of 2013. It catalogues Georges’ troubled upbringing and her subsequent quest for love and stability in her relationships, and indeed her life at large. Georges enters this story through her first girlfriend, who takes Georges to a psychic, inadvertently uncovering a deep family secret: the psychic insists that Georges’ father – whom she was told died of colon cancer when she was a baby – is in fact ...
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SO LONG, SILVER SCREEN by Blutch reviewed by Gabriel Chazan

SO LONG, SILVER SCREEN by Blutch reviewed by Gabriel Chazan

SO LONG, SILVER SCREEN by Blutch Picturebox, 88 pages reviewed by Gabriel Chazan Every film is a ghost story. When we go to the theater, we see flickering images of things in the eternal past yet present which persistently haunt us. This observation cannot be avoided reading the French cartoonist Blutch’s new graphic essay/novel So Long, Silver Screen. With this book, Blutch summons the ghosts from his own filmgoing past to consider the film form. Death pervades the book from the very first panel in which a woman writes, “Adieu Paul Newman.” When the woman tells her lover Newman is ...
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BARNABY VOL. 1 by Crockett Johnson | reviewed by Travis DuBose

BARNABY VOL. 1 by Crockett Johnson | reviewed by Travis DuBose

BARNABY VOL. 1 by Crockett Johnson introduction by Chris Ware; Art direction by Daniel Clowes Fantagraphics, 336 pages reviewed by Travis DuBose In his foreword to its first collected volume, Chris Ware compares Barnaby, Crockett Johnson's 1940s newspaper strip, to other early influential comics like Little Nemo, Krazy Kat and Peanuts. He goes on to say that Barnaby is “the last great comic strip,” a description that ends up being a little unfair to any first time readers of Barnaby: though there are moments of greatness in it, Volume One mostly points forward to the strip's potential, rather than showcasing ...
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