The Graphic Stories - Part 1

This topic was continued by THE GRAPHIC STORIES - Part 2.

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The Graphic Stories - Part 1

Dec 31, 2021, 3:21 am

When I was at school, I was taught that literature comes in 3 distinct forms: prose, poetry and drama. Then we hit Shakespeare... and things got muddled. A few years later we were introduced to a prose poem and things went even weirder. Then I found the graphic stories and thing got even weirder.

The line between illustrated stories and graphic stories can sometimes be a bit shaky (especially in older works) but the general rule is that if you can remove all the pictures without loosing part of the story, it is a illustrated book; if the pictures carry some or all of the story and the story loses parts of itself without them, it is a graphic story.

Graphic stories come in different formats - US style comic books (single issues (floppies), collected ones (TPBs); each of the books can be a single story, a part of a longer story (limited or unlimited) or an anthology of many stories), European style albums (again containing full stories or parts of stories), Graphic novels (complete stories published directly as books OR previously published as comic books (another thin line here)), Japanese style manga, comic strips, cartoons and lately digital comics. Each of the formats has its own conventions and rules and you can usually visually recognize them when you see them.

As for genres - graphic stories are stories. If you can tell the story in words, you can do it in this media as well. So you can find everything - from contemporary stories to fantasy, from science fiction to romance, from horror to non-fiction and so on.

The idea of this thread is two-fold:
- Give a space to people from the group who read the medium to discuss what they read
- Provide an introduction to the styles and authors and formats to people who think that these are only for kids or have other reasons not to read them.

Everyone is welcome to introduce their favorite author, series, style and so on. I will try to post once or twice a week (Tue/Fri maybe - let's see how 2022 starts and how things roll in the thread) an intro to something or someone new (yes, there will be also superheroes comics - they are part of the graphic world).

Don't expect to like everyone's style or every single series - you don't like every single prose or poetry author either so why would this be different. But if you are open to ideas, maybe you will find something that catches your eye and expand your reading.

Welcome to the thread and have fun! Everyone is welcome - even if you think that graphic stories are not literature and should be re-delegated to the trash can or the children's section only.

Dec 31, 2021, 3:21 am

Index of intros

Dec 31, 2021, 3:21 am

Group readings index

Edited: Jan 2, 2022, 6:10 pm

I think this is how the Intros work, but one of my favorite authors is Lauren Redniss. I think a lot of CR has read or at least familiar with Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout that tells the story of the Curie's through her unique use of art mixed with words that don't follow a particular pattern. It's a great book in its own right, but it only shows a little of what makes Redniss an amazing author in the graphical story telling realm. Her willingness to experiment with the form and change up her formats on the fly creates a unique space for story telling. She can write long stretches of prose and a simple illustration that compliments her words like in Oak Flat, or she can dispense with words for long passages telling the story through her beautiful illustrations like in Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future. She has turned the world of nonfiction graphic story telling on its head. Her illustrations are works of art in themselves, but that she can write and convey her stories so well is not something I've seen much of this graphical form.

Also a review for Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito that labfs39 suggested I put here as well:

Fragments of Horror is a manga for horror short stories, and boy are they weird. Full of cosmic and body horror, Ito's stories are of the peculiar, surreal sort. And man are they creepy and so fun. On their face, none of the setups make sense, and they only devolve into some of the most surreal, otherworldly concepts. Ito borrows heavily from western horror stories but puts a very Japanese spin on the tales and then adds images that will forever be burned into my head. I loved every twist and turn of these stories. Can't wait to get to more Ito.

This was my first Japanese style manga. The left to right reading pattern threw my brain in the bin. I think I had to start every other page over because I keep defaulting to a western order. Hope it is something I can adjust to as read more manga.

Jan 1, 2022, 12:20 pm

Thanks, Kevin. I liked Radioactive but never followed up to read any of her other books. I don't think I've read any nonfiction graphic novels that weren't memoirs. I'll see if I can borrow Thunder & Lightning from the library.

Jan 1, 2022, 12:21 pm

I'm wondering if it might be helpful to use LT's list feature to create a list of all the books that get recommended on this thread. I'm willing to do it, if people think there is value-add.

Jan 1, 2022, 1:20 pm

>6 labfs39: I think creating a list could be a value-add, but there should be some policy/procedure to handle entries for things from long-running series, which encompasses a lot of things in the manga realm.

Jan 2, 2022, 4:57 pm

This was the last graphic novel memoir I read in 2021, and it was fantastic.

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Published 2020, 256 p.

I′m always pleased to see a graphic novel receive recognition on the award circuit, and this young adult memoir is well-deserving of being a National Book Award finalist. Omar Mohamed was about five years old when his Somali village was attacked. His father was attacked while tending his fields, and his mother sent him and his younger brother, Hassan, running to hide at the neighbors. As the violence spread, everyone in the village fled, and the two boys were swept along. They eventually make it to Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. There they spend the rest of their childhood, waiting year after year for their mother to find them or to be relocated abroad.

Life in the camp is tough, especially for young Omar. His brother doesn′t speak and has seizures, so Omar must watch him while also getting water every day, rations every other week, and firewood for the woman in a nearby tent who cooks for them. When a man befriends Omar and offers to help him start school (fifth grade, so Omar can be with age peers), his world suddenly has possibilities and hope.

When Stars are Scattered is the story of brothers, friendship, war, the kindness of strangers, and the transformative power of education. The artwork is spot-on, and the bold outlines and color convey a childlike simplicity that is appealing, while the story itself deals with complex emotions and difficult issues such as child marriage and the world′s response to the refugee crisis. I highly recommend this book, even if you aren′t sure about graphic novels.

Jan 2, 2022, 5:16 pm

Great review of When Stars are Scattered, Lisa.

Jan 2, 2022, 9:16 pm

>6 labfs39: I have created a list of works recommended on this thread and from my 2021 thread where the idea for a graphic novel thread was first discussed.

The list is Club Read's Graphic Stories Recommendations.

I made a note in the explanation field that tells who originally recommended it. If the recommendation was a series, I put the first one. Unfortunately, the list only allows works, not authors, so if you recommend an author, like Joe Sacco, please also list two or three works you particularly recommend so that they can be added.

Thanks, and recommend away!

Edited: Jan 3, 2022, 12:10 am

Tales from Outer Suburbia is a hard one to peg. It's, loosely speaking, a short story collection. Sometimes the stories work without the illustrations, but not nearly as well.

I am nearly 70, and I find that I have to really slow down to read a graphic novel like Maus or They Called Us Enemy. I tend to want to read the words and only glance at the pictures. It's better if I can slow down and look at each panel more carefully, like I did when I was reading MAD Magazine as a 13-year-old. Those old skills are kind of hard to conjure back up.

I have been looking at a Web comic, Homestuck. Illustrations are basic, but I gather that's part of the appeal. It also has some moving parts. It's kind of interesting.

Jan 3, 2022, 1:29 am

>8 labfs39: I loved that one too.

Jan 3, 2022, 3:35 am

>8 labfs39: - That sounds really intriguing, Lisa. And thanks for putting together the list!

Jan 3, 2022, 5:43 am

Hello all! labfs39 sugested I post my review of Cellulite in this thread, so here I am!

Les états d’âme de Cellulite, Salades de saison, Les angoisses de Cellulite by Claire Bretécher

Writer’s gender: Female
Writer’s nationality: France
Original language: French
Translated into: N/A
Location: a fictional, medieval Europe
First published in 1980 (for this omnibus edition), and 1969, 1972, 1974 for the various stories within it

A random double page

Cellulite is a young medieval lady, but not the pretty, shy and retiring type. She’s ugly, forthright, violent and very contrary. She’s also a lot less stupid than her father, the lord of the castle. Basically, she’s the prototype for Bean from Disenchantment, for those who’ve seen this Netflix animated series, and proof that the sexual revolution was well under way in the cultural sphere by the end of the sixties. There are versions of Cellulite in Italian (Cellulite), Dutch (Sonetteke), Danish (Sylfia), Spanish (Celulitis), German (Zellulitis), Swedish (Cellulisa) and Finnish (Selluliit) (I like to look at the variety of names chosen). I find it both extraordinary and sad that, as far as I know, none of those stories have been translated into English.
A friend lent me this book, which is an omnibus of all the Cellulite stories, plus a number of shorter graphic works, including for some reasons a funny work about cement… They were written for adults (definitely not for children!) in the late sixties and seventies, and you can almost taste that era reading them, but they haven’t aged badly. They remain relateable and funny.

Edited: Jan 3, 2022, 10:08 am

Dropping my review/comments on the graphic novel adaptation of Macbeth that was my first read of the year in here.


Usborne Graphic Shakespeare: Macbeth by Russell Punter

As the title suggests, this is a graphic novel adaptation of Shakespeare's play. The first two page spread of the volume (after a lovely establishing spread with the title and credits) has introductions to the major characters; a map of Scotland with the principle locations of the play marked out; and a note on understanding Macbeth. Most of the dialog from the play has been simplified for this adaptation, but they did retain some of the most famous lines of dialog in Shakespeare's original words, which have been put in italics.

I liked the art and costume designs used, and I think this is a fairly good adaptation of the play. It definitely gives the reader familiarity with the story, which should make it easier to dive into the full Shakespearean English text later. Given that the publisher is Usborne Books, the intended audience for this adaptation is the 12+ crowd. The last few pages of the book give some history of Shakespeare himself and of the play, which I appreciated.

The Graphic Stories line from Usborne has twelve titles in it overall; Macbeth and Hamlet are the two offerings from Shakespeare. I also have their adaptations of The Adventures of King Arthur and The Hound of the Baskervilles on my TBR.

Jan 3, 2022, 12:40 pm

>10 labfs39: Great Idea! Lists is a fun way to browse all the recommendations.

Edited: Jan 3, 2022, 6:57 pm

Persepolis and Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
The Arrival and Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan (already mentioned)
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua (non-fiction - about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage and the first computing machine)
A Chinese Life by Kunwu Li (memoir, life in China through the second half of the twentieth century)
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (memoir, Vietnamese family who emigrate to the US)
My Favourite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris (fantastic, though tough read, from the point of view of a misfit teenage girl who likes to pretend to be a sleuth around her neighbourhood but discovers some bad things in people’s pasts)

…and a special mention for any British readers for Alice in Sunderland, an allusive psychogeography of the north-east of England, mad and brilliant

Jan 3, 2022, 7:59 pm

>17 wandering_star: Thanks, I've added your recommendations to the list. I'll second The Best We Could Do, and I really liked Persepolis, too.

Jan 4, 2022, 1:06 am

I do believe this thread is a great idea. I saw a couple of links on a thread at the 75 Book Challenge group, and followed it. Graphic books are the January focus in the American Author Challenge, which has been going on for about 8 years. So I've been looking for some new-to-me GNs.

One I bought recently is the graphic edition of Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny. The illustrations in it are by Nora Krug.

I was heartened to discover that several of the GNs I've read—and I haven't read all that many—appear on Lisa's Graphic Stories Recommendations.

Jan 4, 2022, 7:31 am

>19 weird_O: Welcome, Bill. I checked out the American Author Challenge and will definitely follow. One of the goals of this list is to explore non-US authors and formats like manga, so I think there will be enough difference to warrant following both.

I loved Timothy Snyder's book (non-illustrated) Bloodlands and will definitely check out On Tyranny. I have not added it to the list yet, because currently the graphic version and the plain text version are combined as one work with a disambiguation notice that they are the same text. I think that's a misunderstanding of the whole point of a graphic story: the illustrations bring an important element to the story. Clearly this:

is not the same as a text version, even if the words are the same. Once I get it straightened out, I will add it to the list.

Jan 7, 2022, 12:51 am

>17 wandering_star: I'll second the recommendation for A Chinese Life and Alice in Sunderland. A Chinese Life is sometimes credited to Philippe Otie as he co-wrote the narrative with Li, while Li also did the illustrations.
Brazilian twins Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá have two graphic novels I like - Daytripper and Two Brothers which is adapted from the novel by Milton Hatoum.
The Eternaut is a 1950s scifi from Argentina. The writer, Héctor Germán Oesterheld, became one of Argentina's disappeared in 1977 and the artist, Francisco Solano López, went into exile.
other notables:
The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt by Ken Krimstein - biography
An Iranian Metamorphosis by Mana Neyestani - memoir
One hundred nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg -
Zahra's Paradise by Amir & Khalil
The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime by Toshio Ban - amazing biography
Jerusalem: The Story of a City and a Family by Boaz Yakin - 1940's Jerusalem

Jan 8, 2022, 12:09 am

Cross-posting from my thread. Not, strictly speaking, a graphic novel, but it is a comic.


I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider
(comic, print, owned)

I cannot recall exactly how I learned of this 2020 release, but I can say that picking it up was a complete impulse buy. I have a fondness for comics and for books about books and reading. The art reminds me a lot of the Where's Waldo books I loved as a child. I can relate to many of the comics in this collection, and while it is a fast read, the art invites one to linger and notice a host of tiny details. I am glad to have this on my bookshelf, and foresee regular browsing of its pages in my future.

Jan 8, 2022, 12:11 am

More cross-posting


Kakuriyo, vol. 7 by Waco Ioka & Midori Yuma
(manga, print)

This is the most recently released volume of a manga series I started reading in 2019. The basic premise of the series is that Aoi Tsubaki has inherited her grandfather's ability to see ayakashi (essentially, spirits and other supernatural creatures), and when her grandfather dies, she discovers that she has also inherited the man's massive debt to said ayakashi, which results in her being taken from our world into Kakuriyo, the hidden world of the ayakashi. The manga series is an adaptation of a light novel series by Midori Yuma, which is not available in English as far as I know. There is also an anime.

Reviewing manga always feels a bit tricky to me. For the most part, story progression in an individual volume of any series is slow; there is a high probability of "not a lot happened" occurring, particularly if the series is one with multiple, interwoven story threads. It's almost like reviewing an individual episode of a television series. And in this case, it has been nearly a year since I read (or watched) anything related to this series, because the volumes come out very slowly.

Much of this volume revolves around Aoi baking bread for Yugao, the restaurant she runs in Kakuriyo. She's wanting to add bread to the menu, but she wants to make sure what she makes is to the liking of the ayakashi who will be her customers. research. And the volume ends on something of a cliff-hanger, with no indications when the next volume will be released. Such is life.

Jan 8, 2022, 8:45 am

Happy New Year, Graphic Stories! Lisa (labs39) sent me an invite and I had to drop by. I adore GNs and have for about a dozen years now. I am looking forward to discovering some promising titles over here. Here are just a few of my favorites- I cannot praise The Complete Maus enough. It could be considered the best GN(s) ever created. Persepolis is quite excellent too. The Complete Essex County is the one that put me on the road to GNs and I cannot recommend it high enough.

Mary's Monster was my favorite GN of last year, followed closely by The Secret to Superhuman Strength. This one nearly rivals my favorite of hers, Fun Home.

Currently I am reading When Stars are Scattered, a YA refugee story and it has been terrific.

>4 stretch: I also highly recommend Radioactive. A stunning work.

Jan 8, 2022, 9:30 am

>22 shadrach_anki: Not, strictly speaking, a graphic novel, but it is a comic.

Annie wanted to cover all the graphic bases when she created this thread, so she called it Grahic Stories. She says she's including:

US style comic books (single issues (floppies), collected ones (TPBs); each of the books can be a single story, a part of a longer story (limited or unlimited) or an anthology of many stories), European style albums (again containing full stories or parts of stories), Graphic novels (complete stories published directly as books OR previously published as comic books (another thin line here)), Japanese style manga, comic strips, cartoons and lately digital comics.

So much variety, and you read a lot of them, so your posts are particularly helpful in showing examples of these different types. Thanks!

>24 msf59: Have you read MetaMaus, Mark? I have it somewhere (not all of my book boxes are unpacked from the move), but have not read it cover to cover.

Edited: Jan 8, 2022, 10:18 am

>25 labfs39: butting in (apologies) to say Metamaus is work and also very rewarding. It’s not quick like Maus, and it’s not narrative driven. It’s more reflective of the art. I really got a lot out of it. (I was curious and checked my review - and it’s longer than this comment but roughly says the same thing.)

Edited: Jan 8, 2022, 10:34 am

>25 labfs39: No, I have not and Metamaus sounds great. Thanks. I knew this would be a good idea.

Jan 9, 2022, 6:03 am

>25 labfs39: Graphic stories is a good way to describe it! I struggle with how to describe non-fiction and memoirs in graphic form - it always sounds like the other meaning of graphic ie very explicit.

>21 avatiakh: There are some great recommendations here that I hadn't heard of before, thank you.

Adding the following review which is cross-posted from my thread of this year's reading.

In. by Will McPhail

This graphic novel can be divided into two parts. In the first part, we are introduced to Nick, a young man who drifts through life without any real responsibilities or connections to what is going on around him. I have read characters like him in a lot of graphic novels (eg Adrian Tomine) and I usually find them pretty frustrating but for some reason, even from the beginning, I found Nick a more appealing individual.

Nick wants to have more meaningful conversations around him, but is paralysed by social awkwardness. When he does try, he's not very good at it (there is a scene where he is on the phone to his sister and she is talking about her money worries, but he is so concerned about finding something meaningful to say that he isn't really listening to her). But he keeps going. And when someone says something true and meaningful to him, the artwork changes, from black and white line drawings into vivid colour but slightly nightmarish images.

In the second half Nick discovers that his mother is ill, and the story focuses on him and his sister spending time with her through her treatment. This part is almost completely wordless but the artist does a fantastic job of portraying the ups and downs, the moments of togetherness or sadness.

I thought this book was great. It managed the tonal shift well, from the clueless early Nick to the moving second half of the story. And it demonstrated what a graphic novel can do which words can't - such as the way that the facial expressions and body language told much of the story; and the idea of using a different drawing style to convey a sense of being lost in real, but scary, emotions works so well.

Jan 9, 2022, 4:35 pm

I thought I'd mention some of the graphic stories I've read, these are mostly for young people but adults can enjoy them as well.
One of the most well known is Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret. He also created The Marvels and Wonderstruck. The stories are conveyed both by text and visual images, there are many sequences of images by themselves.

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is a YA by MT Anderson & Eugene Yelchin. Several chapters are wordless, illustrations carrying the story alone. Described as 'an anarchic, outlandish, and deeply political saga of warring elf and goblin kingdoms,' I found this a hugely entertaining read.

I'm not sure if this one is a graphic story or just an illustrated one, but I'll mention Vesper Stamper's YA What the night sings which won the 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award. I read it a couple of years ago so I'm hazy on whether it meets the criteria. Stamper was an artist who suffered an injury to her arm in a road accident, resulting in partial paralysis which made it impossible for her to continue in her career path. This book is a result of her journey to adapt and combines a limited ink illustration style with a story that grew into a novel.

Edited: Jan 9, 2022, 5:10 pm

Once@9:53am: Terror in Buenos Aires by Ilan Stavans & Marcelo Brodsky (2011 Spanish) (2016 English)
another form of graphic story...fotonovelas have been very popular in Latin America and this was the first one I've come across in English.
Basically the fotonovela requires a script, storyboard and actors, costuming, permissions for photographing in the street, in special areas etc, so is quite complex for all that the finished product appears quite simple.

The story is a fictional re-enactment of the hours before the 1994 AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) bombing in Buenos Aires, mostly shot in the Once (On-ce) neighbourhood.

Stavans: 'Since the post-1994 investigations have done nothing but hide them behind innuendoes, my explicit objective was to give the terrorist a face. I used the format of the fotonovela to give them a physicality they otherwise lacked.
Shooting took a total of three days. Brodsky took close to ten thousand pictures. In the months that followed he organized the material and began collaboration with a designer who developed the narrative while also inserting dialogic balloons and other comic-strip devices.
Ultimately, my dream was to use the very tools of popular culture in order to produce rigorous knowledge and to disseminate that knowledge in an alternative scholarly format. I wanted it to look like a comic yet deliver a serious message about the intersection of politics and religious freedom in Latin America. I wanted to amuse and stimulate, to provoke thought and generate discussion. Mostly, I wanted to reach a diverse audience beyond the Ivory Tower.'

Jan 9, 2022, 5:26 pm

Going through my previous years reading and I find couple of other graphic biography / memoir reads that excelled:
Munch by Steffen Kverneland
This wonderful excursion into the life of Munch took Kverneland seven years to complete. This is really hard to comment on, the material is rich, so many interesting & provocative creative personalities that Munch hung out with including the Kristiania Bohemians and his art was so interesting, based on 'I paint what I saw not what I see.' The text is taken from primary sources, letters, news items, diary entries etc. Kverneland uses a variety of art styles even including photographs and caricatures of himself and helper, Lars Fiske. This is a seriously stunning piece of work.

Notes on a Thesis by Tiphaine Rivière - Jeanne throws away her teaching job to undertake her PhD study. The secretary keeps a collection of before and after photos of all the students, looking at it would be enough to put most people off. Just loved it, the slightly comic approach and then after all the years of there even a job market for all these PhD literature elites at the end.

Jan 9, 2022, 6:26 pm

As I add all of the suggestions to the recommendations list, I am reminded of how varied and rich this format is.

Edited: Jan 9, 2022, 6:29 pm

This user has been removed as spam.

Jan 9, 2022, 6:57 pm

ugly spam...just posting so the last message is not smeared on the group page.

Jan 9, 2022, 7:12 pm

It's interesting because if asked I think I would say I'm not especially moved by Graphics, but when I look at my library, that isn't true at all.

Here are some that I've enjoyed that haven't been mentioned above.

Good Talk by Mira Jacobs - A wonderful memoir about being a person of color living in white america married to a white man.

Ms. Marvel - Comic series about a Muslim teenage girl super hero.

Here by Richard McGuire - A story of a place spanning time with a focus on the hours that stands on the land. I don't remember any words at all so this one is primarily if not entirely about the art.

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast - Details her relationship with her aging parents. A favorite.

Pyongyang by Guy Delisle - A Canadian in North Korea on business. I've read multiple books about North Korea and the visual was a whole new way of learning about the country.

I have the 'new' Allison Bechdel sitting on my coffee table waiting to be read.

Jan 9, 2022, 7:13 pm

>34 dchaikin: I was thinking that in addition to my recommendations, I'd be happy to be moving that abomination further up the thread. Thank you for doing so.

Jan 9, 2022, 7:45 pm

>35 nancyewhite: I have Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations out from the library at present.

Edited: Jan 10, 2022, 2:37 am

>35 nancyewhite: The new Alison Bechdel was worth the wait! The art is more detailed than in her previous books, and the writing is just as insightful as always.

Recently, apart from The Secret to Superhuman Strength, I really liked The Story of a Mother by Danish author Peter Madsen, after the Hans Christian Andersen tale of a mother who goes on a journey to try and reclaim her child from Death (not an uplifting story!)
I also enjoy two graphic memoirs by Zeina Abirached: A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return and Le piano oriental (not sure whether it is available in English), about her and her family's life in Beyrouth, and the Lebanese civil war. People who liked Persepolis would probably like Abirached's work.
I’d also recommend Bhimayana: Experiences Of Untouchability. The art is unlike anything I’ve seen before. (Wikipedia article:

Edited: Jan 11, 2022, 12:21 pm

# 3. On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder, illus. by Nora Krug Finished 1/5/22

The Weird Book ReportTM

In 2017, Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder published a little book titled On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. On the back cover, Snyder is quoted.

The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.

Each of the 20 lessons is spelled out in a chapter, typically a short one. The lesson is stated in three to five sentences, then expanded upon in two to eight pages. Examples, primarily from European and U.S. history, clearly describe the threat. Correctives often are cited.

In 2021, a graphic edition was published with the same text and an array of illustrations and photos created by Nora Krug. The trim size is substantially larger than the original book and the printing is in color to accommodate the graphics. The text is set in a typeface simulating hand lettering. Krug found old photos depicting, for example, Nazi atrocities against Jews and other targeted peoples. She created original art and graphic layouts.

Here is one lesson, abridged.

Jan 11, 2022, 12:29 am

>39 weird_O: Thank you for this review, Bill. The pages you shared are amazing. I will request this book tomorrow.

Jan 11, 2022, 1:05 am

>39 weird_O: That one looks great. I hope my library has it.
Another GN I've been searching for in my past threads and finally found is Nelson, edited by Rob Davis. It is a collaboration between 54 British comic artists. A different artist tells the story of one day, each year, in the life of Nel, born 1968 up to 2011.
Also Aya by Marguerite Abouet about life on the Ivory Coast. I've read 2 of the 6, not sure if they've all been translated.

Jan 11, 2022, 8:33 am

>38 Dilara86: A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return sounds really good and I love that title.

>39 weird_O: I got that one on the list all ready, Bill. It looks like a Must Own!

Jan 11, 2022, 11:39 pm

>39 weird_O: thanks for sharing all these images.

Jan 12, 2022, 9:41 am

>39 weird_O: Just adding my voice to those thanking you for this review - it gives a very clear idea of what the book is like.

Jan 12, 2022, 1:59 pm

I hope it's OK to disagree :) I don't think Snyder says anything interesting about "tyranny" at all--it's just the usual tired liberal argument in defense of the capitalist status quo. The bullet points are so general they can be used to defend just about any ideology. Every single endlessly recycled beat is there, including the tell-tale conflation of communism with Stalinism. Not to be ageist (I'm not a spring chicken myself anymore), but this may be comforting pap for the older generations of Americans (in particular), who grew up on the Red Scare propaganda, especially those now comfortably retired--it does nothing to help point the way to the young.

In contrast, I'd offer the inspiration of Red Rosa : A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg by Kate Evans, one of my fave graphic novels of the past decade.

Latest graphic novel I read was Cher pays de notre enfance: Enquête sur les années de plomb de la Ve République (Dear country of our childhood: Investigation of the "Leaden Years" of the Fifth Republic) by Etienne Davodeau and Benoît Collombat. It's a lot of French politico-historical nitty-gritty about the 1960s and 1970s crises that I might sum up as "France goes mafioso"--political assassinations of inconvenient judges, backstage shenanigans involving dirty money, gangsters used for "lobbying" and terrorising etc. The graphic style is undercooked sketches and the whole thing is just talking heads--frankly I'd have preferred to read straight text. I came to it after seeing a film about the bank robbers (Gang des Lyonnais), suspected not just of political agitation but the assassination of the judge François Renaud.

Some of my "always" recommendations, some of which I discussed at greater length in my thread last year:

Hugo Pratt; e.g. Una ballata del mare salato (A Ballad of the Salt Sea); Favola di Venezia (sirat al bunduqiyyah) (Fable of Venice); Le celtiche (Celtic tales)...

Moebius; Le Monde d'Edena (The world of Edena)...

Julie Doucet; My New York Diary (+ everything now collected in Dirty Plotte: The Complete Julie Doucet)

Diane DiMassa; The Complete Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist

and, also discussed last year, Kuniko Tsurita's The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud.

Jan 12, 2022, 4:53 pm

So far, I think, no one has mentioned Joe Sacco, the conflict journalist whose use of the graphic format makes his reporting from the front lines far more powerful than text alone could be. Some of his books are not for the faint-hearted. They are, nonetheless, deeply informative.

I finished of 2021 with Paying the Land in which Sacco reports on the Dene people of the Northwest Territories. Recommendable.

Jan 12, 2022, 5:38 pm

>46 librorumamans:

Oh, yes. Sacco is a star. His Palestine in particular is tremendous, possibly the best thing made about the conflict so far.

Jan 12, 2022, 5:53 pm

>46 librorumamans: We talked about him a lot in the preliminary thread. :) But yes - Sacco is good.

PS: Got stuck with stuff so had not posted what I meant to. But the thread is going fine as it is so carry on, I will post when I can ;)

Edited: Jan 12, 2022, 7:53 pm

>46 librorumamans: Thank you for recommending a specific Sacco title. Several people have raved about him, but until a title was mentioned, he didn't make it onto the recommendation list.

Edited to add: we are now up to 77 titles that have been recommended.

Jan 12, 2022, 8:34 pm

>49 labfs39: Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, Footnotes in Gaza, Safe Area Gorazde, Palestine - I'd all of them up in the list ;)

A few more recommendations (intros and so on to follow):
Berlin by Jason Lutes - the fall of the Weimar Republic and all that
Habibi by Craig Thompson
The Push Man and Other Stories and A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Wimbledon Green by Seth
I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason
Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Grandville by Bryan Talbot
Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales
The Unwritten Vol. 01 by Mike Carey (the whole series really but we are listing just the first, right?)
Fables, Vol. 01: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan

Just to add a few more to the recommendations :)

Jan 12, 2022, 8:53 pm

>45 LolaWalser: Hothead Paisan was my gateway drug to graphics. How I could use new Hothead comics right now.

Sacco's been added to the list.

Edited: Jan 13, 2022, 4:02 am

So this is mainly going to be for people who understand French (apologies to everyone else), but I thought there might be enough to interest others, at least if they enjoy looking at people drawing. France Inter has a long playlist of video interviews of graphic artists on YouTube. I've watched a few: Florence Cestac, Bernadette Després, Florence Dupré la Tour, Riad Sattouf...
Here is a link to the Comment j'ai dessiné playlist, that include the long-standing "comment dessiner..." (how to draw...) short videos, where artists show how they draw one of their creations, and the first "... dans sa bulle" ( in their bubble) video (there will be a new one published every quarter), where Florence Cestac shows us around her working space.

Jan 13, 2022, 8:34 am

My recommendation is the Silver Surfer (2014-2017) run by Dan Slott and Mike Allred. The first in the series is New Dawn.

This series is absolutely phenomenal when read in its entirety. I don't seem to have reviewed it on Librarything, and I don't have time to dig out my reading notebook from 2018 right now, so I can't really give specifics, but I did rate them here: I rated the first four trades four stars, and the final one five stars, which is incredibly rare for me in any medium. I'm a pretty tough rater. I remember that when I finished the final issue, I had goosebumps. Also, I remember crying while reading it.

This is Marvel, but it's Marvel cosmic, so there aren't many on-Earth superhero shenanigans, though there is a brief appearance in one bit by Doctor Strange and I think the Hulk. There is a definite Doctor Who feel to a lot of it, if I remember right.

But it also packs an emotional punch, which is unique for a big 2 superhero brand comic like this, and I say that as a superhero comic fan myself.

The storyline was definitely planned out from start to finish at the outset, and the realization that you get when you reach the end about everything that came before is like magic. The whole thing stands alone - no need to have any prior knowledge of anything in the Marvel universe, let alone a deeper knowledge of continuity or individual characters.

There are also lots of places in the story where the graphic medium is used to full effect to do things that you simply could not do with prose - the visual representation of a time loop made such an impression on me that I can still picture it now, four years after reading it - which makes it an excellent choice for readers looking to see what the graphic medium can do.

The run is collected in five trade paperbacks, which is how I read it, as well as, apparently, in an omnibus edition that also includes other material that I have not read. I didn't recommend the omnibus edition, even though it includes the whole thing, for that reason. I was able to get all five trades from my library system, and I don't imagine it would be difficult for other people to get their hands on.

I cannot recommend this highly enough, but I've done my best. I hope everyone who chooses to look into it enjoys themselves.

Jan 13, 2022, 9:37 am

>52 Dilara86: Thanks for the link, Dilara. Even though my French is horrible, by turning on the French subtitles, I was able to follow along.

>53 Julie_in_the_Library: Great plug! I'm going to see if I can ILL them. It will be a different reading experience for me, as I haven't read any superhero comics before, but you make it sound good.

Jan 13, 2022, 9:43 am

FYI: In the Holocaust Literature group, we have a thread for Graphic Novels. I know it's a small demographic that is interested in that sort of thing, but I wanted to share in case that includes you.

Jan 14, 2022, 2:04 pm


Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud *
(non-fiction, comic, print, owned)

I first read this in 2009, and it is still very much the book for gaining an understanding of comics as a medium, a knowledge of how they work, and an overview of their history (particularly in America and Europe). There is a lot of information contained in its 215 pages, and I highly recommend it...with the caveat that the reader keep in mind it was written in 1992. While the main points and fundamental principles McCloud covers have not changed, the world of comics (and the world in general) most definitely has grown and changed in the last thirty years.

In the decades since this book was written, manga has fairly flooded the US comics market, which makes the relatively brief "things developed differently in Japan" sections feel particularly lacking to me, especially since the examples McCloud uses assume (rightly enough, at the time) scant familiarity with and access to manga, and are all made as comparisons to American and European comics.

The internet as we know it has also played a huge part in the evolution of comics, and it just wasn't a thing in 1992. Today it is far, far easier for independent creators to get their work out in front of people at a relatively low cost. There are who knows how many webcomics in all sorts of genres and styles and on all kinds of platforms.

From my American perspective, it also feels like there has been a general boom in the overall availability of print comics. Thirty years ago you went to a comic shop to get your comics; regular bookstores and libraries almost never had them. Today they are readily found in both places. True, if you're wanting to collect single issues you still probably have to go to a comic shop (or online), but for just reading purposes? (Somewhat case in point, I borrowed this book from the public library because my personal copy has apparently gone on walkabout. Downside to borrowing: I discovered a previous patron had left quite a few penciled notes in a fairly heavy hand throughout the library's copy. Who does that?)

Jan 14, 2022, 6:14 pm

I've read quite a lot of manga though much, for me, is forgettable.
My standout favourites which I recommend is -
Monster vol.1 by Naoki Urasawa - 9 volumes in all, this is set in postwar Germany and is about a Japanese surgeon, Tenma, whose own life is turned upside down when he saves the life of a young boy. The plot line is wonderful and there are so many memorable characters.

Message to Adolf by Osamu Tezuka - 2 volumes. Set from 1936 thru to postwar, the story involves 3 Adolfs: Hitler and two boys, one a Jewish refugee in Japan and another a Japanese/German whose father is a Nazi, also living in Japan.

Oishinbo à la Carte by Tetsu Kariya - 7 volumes. I loved these, they give a real insight into traditional Japanese food and cooking techniques, and the storyline of father son rivalry is fun too.

Jan 14, 2022, 6:22 pm

>57 avatiakh: You cannot go wrong with Urasawa or Tezuka :)

Jan 14, 2022, 6:53 pm

>58 AnnieMod: I agree. I've read quite a lot by both of them now.
I read lots of manga as I grab the first volume of any when I see them at the library. My daughter keeps trying to school me about the different genres within manga.

Jan 15, 2022, 9:07 am

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson 4.5 stars

Omar and his younger brother Hassan have lived in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya for most of their young lives. Forced to leave their mother back in Somalia, they have struggled to survive in this camp, dealing with food shortages and crushing loneliness. Omar pursues his education, with the help of his friend Maryam as a ticket out of this dismal life. This incredible graphic novel is based on a true story, and it is beautifully crafted and both heart-breaking and hopeful. Well deserving of the Newbery Award.

“Those who are lost
look to the stars to
lead them home.

The flag of Somalia. Our home
has one star, one background.

But we are not one star. We are millions. Not one background, but millions.

To the untrained eye, the night sky is a scattering of stars, a chaos of light and dark across the universe.

And yet, the stars are not lost.
They form patterns. Constellations. If you know how to look, there are stories woven into the very essense of stars.

Be like a star. Shine your light. Shine your story. For stories will lead us home.”

A Poem of Stars by Maryam Farah

Jan 15, 2022, 6:30 pm

Ah, finally caught up on this thread. Thanks very much for starting it, AnnieMod!

I'm a lifelong comics/comix/graphic literature–head—mainstream and European comics as a kid, then in my early teens graduated to Heavy Metal and 60s/70s underground comix (I had an afterschool job at my town's underground comix/sf/head shop when I was 14, and I was turned on to/acquired so much good stuff there). In my later teens and 20s I was very into the whole 1980s underground/indie comic scene, through the 90s, and then sort of tapered off after that. I've rekindled my interest lately, though, and am having a good time exploring new stuff.

My most recent excellent graphic read was Paul Madonna's upcoming collection from his long-running San Francisco Chronicle strip, All Over Coffee, called You Know Exactly, the Third Collection of All Over Coffee, which I loved. I'm a huge fan of his style and general ethos, and I really liked this one was both a visual treat and a solid exploration into his craft—not so much the making of the work (though some of that too) as his editorial decisions around the All Over Coffee series, his books, and other projects.

I discovered him at City Lights Bookstore when I was in San Francisco in 2015, and just fell in love with his work. I have a few e-galleys of his books, but I need to own more of his work in paper-and-board format, I think. I had a professor in my undergrad years who said that every piece of art you make should have beauty and mystery, and Madonna's work satisfies that craving for me in a big way.

One of my abstract reading goals for this year is to read further into the graphic work I've been randomly collecting over the years. Plus I really need to dig deeper into Joe Sacco's work, which pushes all my buttons as a journalist and lover of super adept crosshatching. Stay tuned...

Jan 17, 2022, 8:42 pm

>28 wandering_star: I don't know if I would like this book, but I sure enjoyed your telling about it!

Jan 17, 2022, 11:59 pm

I've finished three GNs this weekend.
The Book Tour by Andi Watson - a fun read. A less known writer embarks on a book tour, anything that could go wrong goes wrong, his life slowly turning into a nightmare.
There's a Musée du Louvre series / Louvre Collection where graphic artists are invited to create a story & art around some aspect of the Louvre. I've read most of the English translations. They vary widely in style and story.
The Cross Eyed Mutt by Étienne Davodeau (2013)
Cruising Through the Louvre by David Prudhomme (2012)
Cats of the Louvre by Taiyō Matsumoto (2018) - still reading this one

Jan 18, 2022, 9:07 am

>63 avatiakh: The Louvre series sounds interesting. How did you come across them?

Jan 18, 2022, 9:09 am

Which leads me to ask, how does everyone find new graphic books to read? Are there websites, podcasts, or print resources that you use? Browsing at the library or bookstore?

I have been relying solely on LT recommendations.

Jan 18, 2022, 2:13 pm

>65 labfs39: I follow a few publishers and authors (I won't read everything but I browse their new books every few weeks/months) - and then look at what Amazon shows as related and "also bought" and so on. There is a distributor catalog which comes out every month and has almost everything expected 2 months later (minus most indies and some publishers) - I used to get that one often but these days some comic shops have a lot of it available online (so you can order from them) so I had gotten lazy. Which reminds me that I probably should look at one of them. So... depends :)

Jan 18, 2022, 4:47 pm

>64 labfs39: I read the first 3 or 4 back in 2012 so not sure how I discovered them. They were either a lucky library find or an LTer mentioned them.

>65 labfs39: Many are book bullets from other LTers like jnwelch. I also follow several writers, artists and publishers on twitter. Every now and then I'll simply do a google search for best GN lists and sometimes add the name of a country or region. I also visit my local Graphic Novel Cafe to browse, though they mostly stock manga. My daughter has been buying the Kimi ni Todoke series book by book so we turn up there fairly regularly.
My interest in reading graphic novels was sparked by visiting an exhibition of Jewish comicbook art, Superheros and Schlemiels, in Amsterdam in 2008 at the Jewish Museum where I saw original artwork from Joann Sfar, Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner etc. That's where I bought Maus & The Rabbi's Cat. I've now read most of Will Eisner's work. My daughter started collecting The Spirit comics as we travelled around Europe and visited lots of comic shops.

Edited: Jan 19, 2022, 2:21 pm

Per graphic stories, R. Crumb's The Book of Genesis Illustrated is fascinating.

Crumb, as those of a certain age will remember, was the creator of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Fritz the Cat, and Mr. Natural in underground comix of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The narrative is lifted pretty much from the KJV, but is a bit less syntactically twisted. It leaves out nothing, including all the "begats."

Crumb's characters purposely resemble characters from those mid-century Biblical epics, which give them a familiarity. But they are, of course, rendered in the comic book style of R. Crumb, which makes them human and fallible.

In his intro, Crumb talks about the considerable research he did as he worked on the book. What emerges is an intimate family history, from Adam and Eve through Joseph and his Egyptian wife.

Women are not short-sheeted in the book. Even when they are not mentioned, they are always there in the illustrations, their facial expressions commenting on the action.

I was especially taken with Esau, a big lummox whose loyalty and ability to forgive often gets lost in the focus on Jacob.

Genesis is by no means a theological work, but I have to say that I got more out of Crumb's rendering of these stories than I get out of most homilies.

Jan 20, 2022, 11:15 am

>67 avatiakh: A graphic novel cafe, that sounds like a fun place to browse. The exhibition sounds very interesting. My introduction to graphic novels was Art Spiegelman. He spoke to our class in grad school. I am currently trying to read Fagin the Jew by Eisner, but it's through an online resource from the library, and there are resizing issues, so it's very hard to read.

>68 nohrt4me2: I like imagining the women's expressions at various points. Ha

Jan 20, 2022, 11:59 am

>65 labfs39: Since I've been reading graphic stories for nearly as long as I've been reading in general, it's actually hard to pinpoint exactly how I find new things to read. So often it just seems to be a case of "I heard about it somewhere" and that's the best I can do (this holds true for all my reading, not just graphic stories).

I've joined publisher email lists, and I'll check release calendars for the series that I am currently collecting. Sometimes the calendars lead to me checking out something new. I have friends that will recommend things to me, and I pretty regularly browse the shelves at the library and the bookstore. There are also the automatic recommendations that will pop up based on purchasing or browsing history.

Jan 20, 2022, 6:27 pm

>69 labfs39: When I read Maus I discovered a family connection to my husband and he was put in touch with Speigelman's brother who does the family research and was able to help them find some family members in Canada.
Eisner is rewarding reading. I read his The Contract with God trilogy about New York tenement life and also The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I hope you can get through the digital Fagin issues, I've been reading some GNs n my iPad and it works but never as good as the actual book.

Jan 25, 2022, 8:52 am

Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir by Bishakh Som 3.7 stars

In this “almost” graphic memoir, the transgender author, uses an alter-ego, Anjali, to tell her story of growing up in Ethiopia, India, and New York City. It looks at her relationship with her traditional parents and how she finally discovered her creative dream, drawing comics. It wasn’t a perfect read but I liked it enough to recommend it.

Dare to Disappoint by Ozge Samanci 4 stars

As a child, Ozge Samanci was drawn to the sea. Her early hero being Jacques Cousteau. Her father wanted her to be an engineer and pushed her hard. Set on the Aegean coast, in Turkey this wonderful graphic memoir, details Ozge early life struggling against the system to become who she wanted to be, not what society demanded. Funny, warm and insightful. Ozge now teaches at Northwestern in Chicago.

Jan 25, 2022, 6:15 pm

Hyperbole and a half : unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem, and other things that happened by Allie Brosh
Published 2013, 369 p.

What a gem of an illustrated memoir this is! The title was been on my radar for years, and I finally put it on my Amazon wish list and received a copy as a gift. I laughed, snorted, and empathized my way through the book.

Allie Brosh started a blog in 2009 instead of studying for her physics final. It became a smashing success, and the book, a compilation of her blog posts as well as some new stories, was published in 2013. The book begins with letters she exchanges with her childhood self and gives snapshots of various points in her life. Mostly they are very funny: getting lost with her mom and little sister in the woods, a goose coming into her house and chasing her and her boyfriend, her life with two wacko dogs. But in 2011 she posted a blog about the severe depression she was experiencing, and then in 2013, when she returned to public life, she posted a second. The two posts were very moving and have been lauded by psychologists and others as a very good depiction of depression. The book ends with a couple of chapters on identity.

The artwork is very crude, almost stick-figures, but the expressions and postures convey a wealth of emotions. The book itself has stiff, glossy pages that made it a pleasure to hold. Can't wait to read her second book, which was published at the end of 2020.

Jan 26, 2022, 10:56 pm

I don't know if this counts exactly as a graphic novel, but since I seem to be revisiting my 10-year-old Moby Dick theme, this was one of the books that came to my attention...
Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page by Matt Kish.
Here is the description from Amazon:
A collection of illustrations inspired by lines from every single page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. Inspired by one of the world’s greatest novels, Ohio artist Matt Kish set out on an epic voyage of his own one day in August 2009. More than one hundred and fifty years following the original publication of Moby-Dick, Kish began illustrating Herman Melville’s classic, creating images based on text selected from every page of the 552-page Signet Classics paperback edition. Completely self-taught, Kish refused to set any boundaries for the artwork and employed a deliberately low-tech approach in response to the increasing popularity of born-digital art and literature. He used found pages torn from old, discarded books, as well as a variety of mediums, including ballpoint pen, marker, paint, crayon, ink, and watercolor. By layering images on top of existing words and images, Kish has crafted a visual masterpiece that echoes the layers of meaning in Melville’s narrative. In retrospect, Kish says he feels as foolhardy as Ishmael, the novel’s narrator, and as obsessed as Captain Ahab in his quest for the great white whale. “I see now that the project was an attempt to fully understand this magnificent novel, to walk through every sun-drenched word, to lift up all the hatches and open all the barrels, to smell, taste, hear, and see every seabird, every shark, every sailor, every harpooner, and every whale,” he says. “It was a hard thing, a very painful thing, but the novel now lives inside me in a away it never could have before.” Kish spent nearly every day for eighteen months toiling away in a small closet he converted into an art studio. In order to share the work with family and friends, he started the blog “One Drawing for Every page of Moby-Dick,” where he posted art and brief description about his process on a daily basis.

Jan 27, 2022, 7:47 am

>74 WelshBookworm: After reading your review, I just had to check out the illustrations. I tracked down Kish's blog here. There are also some example pages in this article.

Edited: Jan 27, 2022, 8:24 am

"A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale has been banned from classrooms by a school in the US state of Tennessee, as it has eight curse words. The graphic novel by Art Spiegelman depicts how the author's parents survived Auschwitz during the Holocaust through hand-drawn drawings of mice and cats."

Go Tennessee!! Thanks for protecting us! Nudity? WTH?

Jan 27, 2022, 3:50 pm

>76 msf59: Yup. In the second decade of the 21st century, kids should be shielded from everything - after all, it can interfere with their Tik-Tok addictions (or whatever the current craze is).

Jan 28, 2022, 11:58 am

This is interesting: a new series like Classics Illustrated announced in France and in hard covers. Perhaps some publisher will pick up the English rights.

Jan 28, 2022, 12:01 pm

>77 AnnieMod: Granted, I haven't read the actual article, but while "protecting the children" may well have been the reason given for the ban, it definitely isn't what I think is really behind it.

"Protect the children" has long been an excuse and rallying cry used to ban content that people (and governments) don't like or want people to be able to access for reasons that have nothing at all to do with protecting anyone, children or adults.

It's not really fair to blame it all on current values in child rearing, or to attribute it to any specific era. This is not a new problem, or one unique to the 21st century. This sort of censorship, with exactly this excuse, has been going on for decades - centuries, even.

Jan 28, 2022, 8:12 pm

For anyone interested, Tim is proposing a site-wide reading of Maus:

>79 Julie_in_the_Library: Oh, I know. I was keeping my tongue in my cheek when I posted above - it was more a reference that the kids will see worse than that in whatever the current craze is. Some days I wonder how exactly these parents think that this helps and wondering how lucky they are to live in the suburbs and not on farms - a bit hard not to see things on farms, me thinks... It is not a new phenomena (by a large margin) but it seems to get crazier and crazier (or we hear about it more often because we are more connected maybe?). I grew up in a communist (and then post-communist) country, you would think that no censorship can surprise me and yet...

Jan 29, 2022, 12:45 pm

>80 AnnieMod: Oh, I know. I was keeping my tongue in my cheek when I posted above
Sorry for the misinterpretation. I don't always notice or understand sarcasm, especially in text.

it was more a reference that the kids will see worse than that in whatever the current craze is.
I'm not sure what's on TikTok that could possibly be worse than the actual Holocaust. Unless you mean that kids see more nudity in their social media than is in Maus? That's probably true, if that's what you meant. But the ban isn't really about nudity, so that tracks.

Some days I wonder how exactly these parents think that this helps
I don't think that the parents, or the school board, or the legislators really do believe the spin that it's about nudity. Some, even many, may tell themselves that they do, but that's because they'd rather think of themselves as good people protecting children than think too much about what actually bothers them about a book like Maus.

Some days I wonder how exactly these parents think that this helps and wondering how lucky they are to live in the suburbs and not on farms - a bit hard not to see things on farms, me thinks.
Even on a farm, it is unlikely that they or their children would see the deliberate genocide of Jews and Romani people. Or, for that matter, more human nudity than in any other household. And again, the nudity is not actually what's behind the ban, just the excuse. If it weren't nudity, they'd have come up with something else.

I'm also not sure what how much easier these families have it than their more rural forebears has to do with the censorship of Holocaust literature? Am I missing something obvious, here?

It is not a new phenomena (by a large margin) but it seems to get crazier and crazier

I'm not sure how this is "crazier" than any other censorship. This is a book by a Jew which condemns white supremacism in the form of Nazism and depicts the Holocaust, thus challenging attempts to downplay it or to deny that it happened at all.

People who are white supremacists or white nationalists, racists, antisemites, neo-nazis, or who have leanings toward any or all of those things, do not want their children exposed to a book with this message, just as they don't want them exposed to books like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which have been and are banned in many places for depicting an American past that white Americans don't want to confront or acknowledge.

Parents and school board members and legislators don't want kids reading these books because it gets in the way of inculcating those children with their own bigotries. "Protecting children from the evil nudity*" is just the fig leaf they put on it to cover their true motives. And that's an old, old story.

*And the idea that non-sexual nudity is evil and thus dangerous to children, or more precisely that all nudity is inherently sexual and therefore evil and dangerous to children, is an inherently Christian idea, as is the idea that merely seeing, reading, or otherwise coming into contact with an idea is somehow corruptive in and of itself, so this is also an example of Christians foisting their belief on the general public and enshrining it in local law and public ordnance.

Edited: Jan 29, 2022, 3:18 pm

>81 Julie_in_the_Library: Maus was banned because of the 8 curse words it has in the text - not because it is about the Holocaust… I am commenting about the article linked above (and the post which mentioned it here - even if you did not read the article, the post in >76 msf59: is clear on what the hubbub is about this time and all my answers here had been either linked as a response to it or a response to a response to it), not why Maus may have been banned elsewhere or what Maus is about.

Jan 29, 2022, 3:45 pm

>82 AnnieMod: Maus was banned because of the 8 curse words it has in the text - not because it is about the Holocaust

The official reason given by the school board is the curse words. That doesn't make the curse words the actual reason for the ban, or the reason the discussion in the school board meeting was started in the first place - hence my use of the term "fig leaf."

The official reason for banning books is often something seemingly benign like this. That doesn't mean that they're what's actually behind them. People didn't want this book taught. They went looking for something objectionable and found some to use. If it hadn't been curses, it would have been something else.

I will also note that the conflation of showing something in an educational context and promoting it, which is the official basis for the ban, - One school board member is quoted from the school board meeting minutes in the CNBC article as saying, “It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff, it is not wise or healthy.” - is based in the idea that knowledge is corruptive and that merely seeing something immoral depicted or reading about it is morally dangerous. That is an inherently Christian belief, and has absolutely no business being used to make decisions in a public school.

The same is true of the idea that all female nudity is inherently sexual, and therefore harmful for children to so much as see in an unrealistic depiction in a graphic novel.

Banning books in a public school based on Christian beliefs is a bigoted move on its own, so even if this were really about curse words and depictions of nudity, this would still be bigoted.

But, as the CNBC article makes clear, the curses and nudity were never the real issue to begin with.

From the CNBC article, bolding mine: "Jan. 10 vote by the McMinn County School Board, which only began attracting attention Wednesday, comes amid a number of battles in school systems around the country as conservatives target curriculums over teachings about the history of slavery and racism in America....

...Spiegelman also said he suspected that its members were motivated less about some mild curse words and more by the subject of the book, which tells the story of his Jewish parents’ time in Nazi concentration camps, the mass murder of other Jews by Nazis, his mother’s suicide when he was just 20 and his relationship with his father."

This is happening in a larger context, both historical and current, and you can't just accept the official statement about something like this at face value. It's not that I don't know what the school board is saying. It's just that I don't believe them.

Edited: Jan 29, 2022, 3:57 pm

>83 Julie_in_the_Library: But that is the reason I commented on. As I’ve clarified - as somehow apparently it was not clear. And yet you seem to want to continue telling me what I meant and to take my words to mean other things. Carry on - if you are not interested in the conversation, keep lecturing. But don’t use my comments and turn them around to be about a different topic altogether.

PS: The ban request is for the curse words. What is behind it is a different story. We all know that. Does not mean that we cannot comment on what people had said in that complaint. For some of those people it MAY as well be the curse words. Who knows.

Jan 29, 2022, 7:11 pm

Tim will be leading a group read of Maus starting now.

Jan 29, 2022, 8:48 pm

>85 labfs39: this is awesome. Thanks for the link and notice.

Jan 30, 2022, 11:05 am

>84 AnnieMod: I apologize. I should not have let my emotions get me to the point where I was reacting without reading carefully first. I will do my best not to let it happen again.

Jan 30, 2022, 3:41 pm

>87 Julie_in_the_Library: I get what you are saying, why you're saying it, and why it pisses you off.

American public schools used to function as places where kids learned to live in a pluralistic society. Dismantling public education or curbing book choices, imo, is another sign that American society is devolving into tribalism and a cold civil war.

Jan 30, 2022, 3:48 pm

I just discovered this thread, and I read a graphic novel last week, so I'll drop this here:

Borders, Thomas King; illustrations by Natasha Donovan, 2021

cover comments: as with most graphic novels, I'm not a fan or the art style. The colours are very 2021

Comments: This is a 2021 graphic novel using the 1993 Thomas King short story "Borders." I read "Borders" in my very first university class, and it was one of my favourites from all my university reading.

A teenage boy in Alberta and his mom want to go visit the boy's older sister, who has been living in Salt Lake City. At the border, trying to enter the US, the border guard asks for their citizenship, to which the mom answers "Blackfoot." After extensive attempts to get her to answer either "Canadian" or "American", they are eventually turned around and sent back to Canada. But now they have to cross Canada customs, and the same standoff happens, and they are stuck sleeping in their car at the border.

Why I Read This Now: I've wanted to read it since I bought it and found some time. It's a very quick read

Recommended for: everyone, particularly readers who want to read more indigenous issues

Rating: 4 stars

How I Discovered This: CBC promoted this when it was published and it was an auto-buy for me

Edited: Jan 30, 2022, 4:19 pm

>87 Julie_in_the_Library: No worries. :) I don’t disagree with what you are saying - but I was taken aback on how my comment may be read that way. It happens.

>88 nohrt4me2: The American public education system is a weird thing at the best of days and downright bizarre when things like that happen. Not that others are much better in some regards.

Jan 30, 2022, 4:56 pm

>90 AnnieMod: We've had free public, locally administered education since Puritan times. That everybody deserved a free education was a laudable goal that we've subscribed to for nearly 400 years.

Sure, there are weird teachers, weird school board members, weird parents, weird kids, weird state entities handing down weird requirements, weird administrators, and factions of weirdos that weirden up the landscape of public education.

Like this weirdo from my hometown:

But I don't think there's anything weird about free public education.

Apologies in advance for going off topic.

Edited: Jan 30, 2022, 5:48 pm

Who knew that 10 citizens in rural Tennessee could give a comic book the thumbs down, and launch it back onto the best sellers list 30 years after it was originally published?`

Edited: Jan 30, 2022, 6:08 pm

>91 nohrt4me2: I don’t think that is is weird because it is free or public - so is the case in Bulgaria as well. I think it is weird because it allows a school or a state to decide not to teach a certain subject (evolution for example). Or because it allows someone to finish high school with just a couple of science classes. Or because this kind of a protest can get a book banned somewhere.

>92 weird_O: Right? :)

Edited: Jan 31, 2022, 5:39 pm

Whoops, went to post my review of In., but realized that wandering_star's review is already upthread. Thanks for the rec, I loved it too!

Feb 1, 2022, 1:45 am

>94 labfs39: So what? :) We can all read it on your thread but you can always post it here as well. :)

Feb 1, 2022, 9:28 am

>94 labfs39: It's good to have more than one person's review of a book. It gives more than one perspective, and a more complete picture to those deciding whether to read it, and also allows for more avenues of conversation about that book to be opened up.

And if it's about how far the thread has moved, that's what the ># system is for! :)

Feb 1, 2022, 9:40 am

>95 AnnieMod: >96 Julie_in_the_Library: I didn't want to clog up our thread, but if you think it's helpful, here goes:

In. by Will McPhail
Published 2021, 267 p.

Nick Moss is an artist always watching and drawing people, but unable to make meaningful connections with them. He never knows what to say, and when he does say something, he feels like the conversation is a performance, not genuine. Yet every once in a while, there is a moment of transcendence, when he shares something about himself, and it is heard and reciprocated. These moment are depicted in gorgeous colored pages, in a book of otherwise black and white graphics.

The author, Will McPhail, has been a contributor to The New Yorker magazine since 2014. This is his first book. His cartoons can be found on his website and Instagram (@willmcphail4).

And here's wandering_star's post >28 wandering_star: which has some photos of pages from the book.

Feb 2, 2022, 6:25 pm

I had been talking about a talking badger in a few places and then things happened and I never got around to posting about him here (or about his creator).

Grandville is one of those series that I likes so much that I decided to keep the later installment for a rainy day instead of burning through them. Which does not work very well - I never get to these so now I am changing my way of dealing with series - if I like it, I read it. That may not be the most popular work of Bryan Talbot but I really like it so here is the review of Part 2 (the review of Part 1 from almost 10 years ago is here:

Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot

Type: Graphic novel
Original Language: English
Original Publication: 2010
Series: Grandville (2)
Genre: alternative history, fantasy
Format: hardcover
Length: 96 pages
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Reading dates: 30 January 2022 - 30 January 2022

200 years ago Napoleon won his wars and France conquered the world. Britain became a backwater province of the big empire until 23 years ago when a violent revolution kicked out the French and established the Socialist Republic of Britain. But that is not everything that Talbot changed in history - in his story humanity never made it to the top of the evolutionary chain - it was all the other animals that did that - although by the time we hear about, humans had evolved somewhere in France (but are considered second-rate and are not granted citizenship).

The second volume in Talbot's Grandville opens 6 weeks after we left DI Archibald LeBrock and his faithful companion Detective Roderick Ratzi after they managed to prevent a war between England and France while killing the emperor Napoleon XII and starting a revolution in France before getting back home to England. You don't need to have read that first story to enjoy this one but there are some spoilers so if you plan to read both, you probably should read them in order.

LeBrock had spent the last 6 weeks hiding in his room - he may have prevented a war, found the truth about a conspiracy and kick-started a revolution but he lost a woman he fell in love with in the process and he still blames himself for it. When he finally emerges (after Roderick drags him back into the world of the living), it is because one of the craziest villains he had ever captured had managed to escape during his own execution - and it appears that he is across the Channel in France and back to his old murderous habits. Except that his commander in Scotland Yard does not want to give him the case - which LeBrock solves in the usual way for a detective in pretty much any detective novel one can read - he resigns and goes on working on the issue at hand. Roderick decides that he will help (he has days off after all) despite his 26 (on last count) kids and Mrs. Razzi who need his salary (oh, did I forget to mention that Razzi is a rat and LeBrock is a badger?) and off they go on the train over the railroad bridge across the Channel and back to France and the City of Light. And before you know it, our heroes are elbows deep into yet another conspiracy.

Talbot's world is a mirror of ours - except for France having had the Empire and the animals evolving before the humans. There is no real species differentiation (except for the people who are anti cross-species relationships) although in a lot of cases the species of the animal and their occupation match our preconceptions - the Mad Dog criminal is actually a dog; the dancers and prostitutes we meet are mostly cats, the madam is a sow and so on. Talbot does not cast specific races or professions into the same animals - all animals evolved and mixed up (Napoleon XII who lost it all in the first volume was a lion; we see walruses and all kinds of other animals in both books). Even if you remove the whole animal evolution, this would have been a pretty decent alternative history tale. But having the animals on top of the chain and having France winning the war allows for a much slower development of the technology and science (England never gets its overseas empire and France conquers most of Europe instead) and the history drifted in an almost believable way.

By the end of this volume, LeBrock manages to uncover the truth about some of the more disturbing parts of the revolution that liberated Britain 23 years earlier, got a few more important people killed and got his job back in the process - after all, this world is just like ours so why would a detective novel follow any different patterns.

And the art is gorgeous (albeit very dark - both literally and in its topics) occasionally.

On to part three of the story for me.

The official page of the series is here: and it contains example pages from all the books.
The page for this installment is here:

The individual volumes may be a bit hard to find these days, but the collected edition which contains the 5 GN is available under the name Grandville L'Intégrale (it is in English despite the title) and has an introduction by Ian Rankin (which now I want to read...)

Feb 3, 2022, 2:59 pm

>98 AnnieMod:

I can't imagine it doesn't say so somewhere, but as I don't seem to find it in your links... one should note Talbot's inspiration came from J. J. Grandville:

Feb 3, 2022, 3:41 pm

>99 LolaWalser: Yup - it is acknowledged in the books. Probably somewhere on the site as well but had not looked at it.

Feb 5, 2022, 1:54 pm

Second Generation: Things I Didn't Tell My Father by Michel Kichka, translated from the French by Montana Kane
Originally published 2012, Eng. translation 2016, 105 p.

Michel Kichka is an Israeli cartoonist and illustrator who was born and raised in Belgium. His father, Henri Kichka, was a survivor of Buchenwald and a well-known and respected educator on the Holocaust. Second Generation is the story of their relationship.

My review is here.

Feb 9, 2022, 1:36 pm

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Finished 1/13/22

The Weird Book ReportTM

Watchmen is an epic comic book depicting the revival of "costumed adventurers" and their eventual fall, brought about—deliberately—by one of their own.

It's set in the United States, but a United States that won the war in Vietnam in 1971, that never uncovered the Watergate break-in, and that eliminated presidential term limits. Consequently, Nixon is still president in 1985 when the story begins. Internationally, tensions between the U.S. and Soviet Russia are high, threatening to spark World War III. As the story plays out, the Soviets do invade Afghanistan and seem poised to push through into Pakistan. Though costumed freelance crime-fighters were outlawed in 1977, two are now employed by the government. The murder of one such, Edward Blake, triggers an investigation that draws the interest of Rorschach, the character who ignored the ban and never stopped prowling.

        The murder of Edward Blake, a.k.a. The Comedian

After the police depart the murder scene, Rorschach slips in and locates a false wall in the back of the bedroom closet, exposing the costume worn by The Comedian. He also finds The Comedian's signature yellow smiley-face pin, now marked with blood. The book's first chapter introduces each of the Watchmen, as Rorschach approaches each in turn to warn them, suggesting each is in danger, that it's a plot against all of them. We see their reactions, each one different from the others.

     Dr. Manhattan (rear), Nite Owl II, Silk Spectre II, Rorschach, The Comedian, Ozymandias,

• Dr. Jon Osterman is unique. He is the lone Watchman with superpowers and the only one who can't shed his "costume." He's about 7 feet tall with the physique of Adonis, and he's blue, a nice shade of powder blue. Oh, and he's usually naked. In a 1959 accident with an experimental "Intrinsic Field Subtractor", Osterman was vaporized. Several months later he started to reappear, first as a brain and nervous system, then several days later with a circulatory system, adding a musculoskeletal structure after that, and finally skin, that blue skin. After his reappearance, he became known as Dr. Manhattan.
• Dan Dreiberg once patrolled as Nite Owl II, a persona he adopted after the original Nite Owl retired and resumed being just Hollis Mason. Dreiberg still has a stockpile of high tech devices he used when active as Night Owl II, but now he's melancholy, paunchy, and out of condition.
• Laurie Juspeczyk appears initially as Dr. Manhattan's lover. But he's distant, preoccupied, emotionally cold. When she leaves him, he hardly notices. The only child of Sally Jupiter, the first Silk Spectre, it's natural she would be Silk Spectre II. Her relationship with her mother has been strained, primarily because her mother won't tell her who her father is.
• Rorschach was another, always standing apart from the other Watchmen. Because he wasn't ever seen without his defining mask, no one really knew who he was until captured by police and unmasked as Walter Kovacs. He held rigidly to his vigilante pose, seeing the world in black and white terms without any compromising gray. Walter kept a diary and often leaked his grim views to the right-wing media.
• Edward Blake was known only as The Comedian. His persona was the coarse, muscle-bound, ruthless cynic, amoral, and usually at odds with the other Watchmen. He was one of the "costumed adventurers" retained by the government. Deployed in Vietnam, he was a conspicuously violent operative. He always wore a yellow smiley-face pin.
• Adrian Veidt is a rich guy, perhaps the richest in the world. Before turning to accumulation of money, Veidt patrolled as Ozymandias. The smartest guy in the world? Many think so. And he has the physical fitness and body control to match. What Veidt has trouble controlling is his condescension. He is, after all, smarter than everyone else.

The fate of humanity and of the world seem to be at stake. Dr. Manhattan with his superpowers has been America's deterrent to Soviet aggressiveness. His powers have been exhibited. But when he's accused of giving cancer to workers in the research lab, he abandons Earth for Mars. No longer threatened, the Soviets invade Afghanistan and drive toward Pakistan

Watchmen, the book, began as a 12-issue comic book series. From the beginning, the intent was to pull the issues together and publish the collection as a coherent book. The initial proposal came from veteran comic book writer Alan Moore. Illustrator Dave Gibbons wanted in, and later got colorist John Higgins involved. An immediate success, Watchmen has been in print for 35 years. It's the benchmark against which every new venture in the genre is measured.

By all means, give the book a look. It does dump a load of mayhem and violence into your lap, so it won't be for everyone. But it is the only graphic story Time selected for its top 100 list. Lev Grossman, one of the magazine's critics, wrote: "Told with ruthless psychological realism, in fugal, overlapping plotlines and gorgeous, cinematic panels rich with repeating motifs, Watchmen is a heart-pounding, heartbreaking read and a watershed in the evolution of a young medium."

Feb 11, 2022, 11:26 am

Jerusalem: A Family Portrait by Boaz Yakin and Nick Bertozzi
Published 2013, 385 p.

A graphic novel based on the stories and recollections of Boaz Yakin's father, Jerusalem is the story of both a family and the city itself. The book begins in April 1945 and ends in June 1948 after the second cease fire in the Arab-Israeli War, about a month after the establishment of the state of Israel. The heavy black-lined drawings amplify the mood of the book. From protests over the White Papers to sabotage of the British forces and atrocities committed by both the Jews and Arabs, the action is violent and often chaotic.

The Yakin family has been fictionized into the Halaby family. The three oldest boys all fight for different factions: Avraham is a communist and doesn't want to fight in Israel, after fighting in the Palestine Regiment under the British in WWII; David fights in Europe and helps countless Jews escape to Palestine, then joins the Palmach; Ezra fights both the British and the Arabs in the paramilitary Irgun. Young Motti is a hoodlum always in fights until he joins the theatre.

If it sounds confusing, it is, but I think that is one of the points of the book: it was a confusing time in history, with no one completely right or wrong and atrocities committed by everyone involved, including the British. No one is a winner and tragedy abounds. The book helped me better understand how those tumultuous years could divide and scar a family, as well as the city at large.

This spread is of Avraham, bloody from being beaten by the Irgun for not fighting, considering turning in his brother who has been buying arms for them on the black market. The woman is their mother.

Feb 14, 2022, 1:00 pm

>85 labfs39: this Maus group read brought me back into the graphic novel world. My post (also here: ) :

6. Maus I : A Survivors Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
published: 1986
format: 160-page graphic novel
acquired: 1999 read: Feb 2-10 time reading: 2:51, 1.1 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: graphic novel Holocaust memoir/biography theme LT group read
locations: Poland and Queens, New York
about the author: An American cartoonist. The son of Jewish Holocaust survivors, he was born in Sweden in 1948, immigrated to the US in 1951 and settled in Rego Park, Queens, New York.

I reread this with the group on LibraryThing in response to the recent school district banning. I‘ve read this a three times now, in 1999, in 2014 with a synagogue book group and this year. It's a classic, and for it stands for me as _the_ classic graphic novel. It's not only a look at the holocaust, an attempt by a child of a survivor to understand what his parents went through, but also it's the book that first enlightened me to what this format can offer. A revisit, but I had forgotten so much, and I was surprised, yet again, how powerful this is. Yet again, I closed this, only volume 1 here, thinking "wow".

And yet again I missed tons of artistic details like the swastika Poland landscape here after Vladek and Anja‘s escape the ghetto and then have no where to hide.

A book everyone should read.

Feb 22, 2022, 7:41 pm

Palestine by Joe Sacco
Stories published 1993-1996, compilation published 2001; 285 p.

Joe Sacco spent two months in the Occupied Territories in the winter of 1991-92 as the first intifada was winding down. He interviewed dozens of people, sometimes with a Japanese photojournalist, sometimes alone. He eventually turned his experiences and the interviews into a series of nine documentary graphic works, which are compiled here into one volume. This is not a history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, nor is it a discussion of all the issues. Instead it is the story of a young journalist hoping to get a scoop and the testimonies of the people he encounters: conversations with old men at tea shops, families he is introduced to, two Jewish women in Tel Aviv, random people he shares a cab with, an American who teaches in Gaza. He talks with members of Hamas, the PLO, and Fatah, and others who are unaffiliated. It's a messy, confusing situation, and Sacco offers no pat answers or solutions.

The artwork is entirely in black and white, and people are portrayed with large mouths, lips, and teeth. Faces press in giving a sense of immediacy and overcrowding; closeups of boots stomping through mud or hands thrust out authoritatively jump from the page; and grimaces of every sort convey anguish and despair. Every once in a while, however, there will be a one or two page spread of a scene that is drawn with fine detail and is quite beautiful, in contrast with the heavier, bulky style of the rest.

I found Palestine to be moving in ways I didn't expect. I had to stop every few chapters to recoup from the intensity of both words and images. The combination of journalistic reporting and graphics is very powerful. The complete nine-volume series won the 1996 American Book Award, and Edward Said wrote a very insightful introduction to the compilation.

Mar 14, 2022, 10:11 pm

The Property by Rutu Modan, translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen
Published 2013, 222 pages

With family, you don't have to tell the whole truth and it's not considered lying.
-Michaela Modan, epigraph

Mica accompanies her grandmother to Warsaw from Israel, purportedly to recover a family apartment that was confiscated during the Holocaust. Once there, however, Mica begins to suspect that her grandmother has a different motive for the trip. The Property features strong women, humor with a touch of sarcasm, and understated motifs that are more powerful for the lack of heavy-handedness.

The illustrations in this graphic novel are at times blocky and at times finely detailed, with wonderful expressiveness. The colors are muted with lots of maroon, black, and mustard. The text is translated into block letters for Hebrew, italics for Polish, and mixed case for English. When Mica doesn't understand what people are saying, the text is just squiggles. The artwork complements the story well.

Mar 16, 2022, 5:45 pm

I'm placing this here as it's more likely to attract relevant attention, given that the artist isn't widely known outside the comics circle.

Very glad to see this (I faved Doucet upthread)

Julie Doucet, a “feminist to the core” and underground Angoulême Grand Prix

Only the third woman to win the grand prize in the festival's 49 years.

Mar 16, 2022, 7:18 pm

>106 labfs39: I enjoyed that one too.

It was the War of the Trenches by Jacques Tardi (1993)
Vignettes of the war experiences of French soldiers during WWI, most ending in death. Some executed after being found to have abandoned their posts or as an example to the others.
The illustrations realistically show the horror of life in the trenches. I had vol. 2 Goddamn this war out from the library but had to give up as Tardis's illustration style is just too unrelenting. Below are examples of his artwork, not too graphic ones.

Mar 16, 2022, 8:17 pm

>108 avatiakh: No one does gritty war as well as Tardi.

If you want something less gritty by him, try The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Vol. 1: Pterror Over Paris / The Eiffel Tower Demon or The Arctic Marauder (or really anything that is not his war stories). :)

Mar 16, 2022, 9:06 pm

>108 avatiakh: I can see how between the topic and the realistic detail, the books could be overwhelming right now. I've been wanting to read these, but I think I'll wait.

Mar 21, 2022, 8:41 am

>105 labfs39: On my list, definitely—though I can see how it would be a challenging read.

>107 LolaWalser: Yay for Julie Doucet! I've been following her since she first published in Weirdo and her Dirty Plotte days—it's been fun to watch a woman cartoonist who's my age change and grow while staying true to her punk/underground roots.

Mar 22, 2022, 11:08 pm

I posted this review on my own thread, and was told I should cross-post it here, and who am I to argue? :)

24. Trinity: a Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

This is basically what the title indicates: a short history of the making, testing, consequences, and aftermath of the first atomic bomb, in graphic novel format. It doesn't go into the science and engineering aspects of things much, although it does give a very clear layman's-level explanation of how nuclear fission and nuclear explosions work. But it does cover the beginnings of the Manhattan Project, the Trinity test, the bombing of Hiroshima and Japan, and the changes that the existence of nuclear weapons brought about in the world.

Honestly, I was more impressed with this than I expected to be. From other things I've read on the subject, I think the historical accuracy is good. The writing is also good, using an effective mixture of the matter-of-fact and the appropriately portentous in its language. The black-and-white art illustrates its subject matter well (and quite harrowingly, in the case of its depiction of the bombing of Nagasaki). And, ultimately, it leaves us to sit thoughtfully with the moral questions involved and the implications of living in this Atomic Age future.

Rating: 4/5

Mar 23, 2022, 10:57 am

>108 avatiakh: Wonder how this compares with the experience of looking at photos from the Great War. Is there a story line or is it like a documentary? Many of the illustrations seem taken from photos I have seen of the trenches. Fwiw, my great uncle, who was shot in the leg during his time in the trenches, said he was standing in six inches of water most of the time, and men had to sleep in shifts to keep the rats off each other.

Mar 23, 2022, 4:06 pm

>112 bragan: Trinity sounds like a good example of what graphic nonfiction can be. There are lots of graphic memoirs, but fewer books like this.

Mar 26, 2022, 1:43 pm

Macbeth (Usborne Graphic Shakespeare), Russell Punter, illus Massimiliano Longo and Valentino Forlini. Finished 1/23/22 
Macbeth, Gareth Hinds. Finished 3/5/22 

The Weird ReportTM

I first became aware of the Usborne Shakespeare graphic adaptation of Macbeth through a post on the Graphic Stories thread. I bought a copy because I was launching a read of Shakespeare's play coupled with a read of Jo Nesbo's novel of the same name, inspired by the play. After reading Usborne's edition, I spotted a graphic version by Gareth Hinds in a library. I signed it out. Comparing the two graphic versions was very interesting.

In my opinion, the Usborne version is a bargain-basement item, intended to fill a blank spot in the publisher's lineup. The adaptation of Shakespeare's text is acceptable, not not anything more than that. Overall, the illustrations are competent but not special; my gut snarks that they were drawn by the low-bidder, who was chosen for the job simply because he was the low-bidder. They are sketchy. The characters convey anger more often than any other emotion.

The Gareth Hinds adaptation is excellent. It benefits from a singular vision. Hinds, who has produced quite a few graphic adaptations of classic literature—King Lear, The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Merchant of Venice—is an old hand at such work. His approach is to research his subject, adapt the text, storyboard the presentation, and produce the illustrations. He's in charge; no one else to shoulder blame for shortcomings.

Maria Russo, who reviewed the book for the New York Times in 2015, commented on Hinds' text, lauding his effort to maintain Shakespeare's rhythm, a detail that totally evaded me:

Hinds…has condensed the action of “Macbeth” a bit and in many places maneuvered Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter into prose that fits seamlessly into speech bubbles. Little seems to have been lost in that transition. The major soliloquies are intact and include the original line breaks (“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day / To the last syllable of recorded time”), while the lines that serve more expositional functions are sometimes reworked so that they still have an iambic feel, but flow naturally to the modern ear (“Thy letters have transported me beyond this ignorant present, and I feel now the future in an instant”).

My contribution here is picking some scenes, showing how they are presented in each book. On the left are the Usborne pages. On the right, the Hinds edition.





Mar 26, 2022, 4:02 pm

>115 weird_O: Thank you for including all the comparison spreads with your review. I love Hinds' depiction of the hags. The differences between the two are stark. Was the price point between the two editions different? Perhaps the Usborne is for a different wallet as well as audience?

Mar 27, 2022, 3:58 pm

>113 nohrt4me2: The illustrations are very detailed and Tardis could have worked from photographs. Each chapter is a story of the fate of a French soldier, so no overall storyline. Doesn't come across like a documentary though. I read it back in January and then got about halfway through Goddamn this war before stopping.
GtW covers each year of the war and then has 15-20 pages of text.

From wikipedia - The GN is a series of anecdotal stories set in the trenches of World War One. Many are based on stories Tardi remembered from his grandfather, who was a veteran of that war, and books he read about the topic. He said: "When I was small, my grandmother used to tell me stories about my grandfather in the First World War. I think the first book I read that wasn’t a picture book was a war story about an army dog who saved his master. And I still get this recurring nightmare of finding myself standing in front of a Call-Up poster - it’s a personal anxiety of mine, being caught up in a situation I can’t control." The stories focus on the daily horrors and injustices soldiers experienced... It Was the War of the Trenches is a more ambitious work for whom Tardi documented himself thoroughly, asking advice from various historians and based his drawings on numerous photographs from this period. The comic has a clear anti-war theme, reflecting the soldiers who are permanently physically and psychologically scarred and the numerous who died for a seemingly pointless cause, which are portrayed in brutal graphic detail'

My great uncle was in the trenches too, he used to show us a scar on his neck from a piece of shrapnel that couldn't be removed. The awfulness of life in the trenches was never part of any conversation as we were just children.

Here's a quote from Somme Mud which I read a couple of years ago - 'It's the end of the 1916 winter and the conditions are almost unbelievable. We live in a world of Somme mud. We sleep in it, work in it, fight in it, wade in it and many of us die in it. We see it, feel it, eat it and curse it, but we can't escape it, not even by dying...''

Edited: Mar 27, 2022, 4:58 pm

>117 avatiakh: Sounds like an interesting book! The snippets I was able to glean from my grandparents and their siblings about the war years--and the flu pandemic--were pretty awful. My grandfather's letters from Ft Custer (Michigan), where he spent the war training mule teams that were sent overseas, talked of many new recruits being sick and confined to bed. I wonder now if they had the Spanish flu. He reported feeling under the weather, but able to work through it.

Mar 27, 2022, 5:26 pm

>118 nohrt4me2: Apart from the film A Very Long Engagement I know little about the French experience of WW1. Here in New Zealand the focus is more on the Gallipoli campaign and the Middle East. The ANZAC (Australia/New Zealand) troops shipped out to Egypt and trained & fought in that part of the Mediterranean before ending up in France & Belgium.
I read a book about the Zion Mule Corps that served in Gallipoli a while back as well as several about the horses from the Mounted Rifles Brigades. There's a memorial statue in Park Lane, London commemorating the war service of various animals.

Mar 27, 2022, 10:14 pm

>119 avatiakh: Well, there's a story to choke you up, eh? I knew about the Ilford Animal Cemetery in London. Simon the cat is buried there:

Mar 29, 2022, 12:49 pm

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

A fantastic graphic novel about identity and the desire to belong.

Yang weaves three separate story lines together in surprising ways with an interesting intersection at the end. Jin Wang is a schoolboy who wants nothing more than to fit in with his classmates. He's willing to go to great lengths to have a bestfriend and a girlfriend. The Monkey King is snubbed at a gathering of the gods and denies his true self in an attempt to be accepted. His rebellion, punishment, and redemption are taken from the 16th-century Chinese novel, Journey to the West. Chin-kee is the embodiment of negative stereotype Americans have about the Chinese. Together these three stories explore what it means to be different.

In his afterword the author writes about the overwhelming response he has had from people.

What I've found is that the outsider's experience is nearly universal. Almost all of us have a story about not fitting in. It's so common that, ironically, it can be a way for us to understand and connect with one another. The outsider's experience can be our common ground.

Mar 29, 2022, 6:37 pm

I am also enjoyed American Born Chinese but my favorite from Yang, is Boxers & Saints.

Edited: Mar 29, 2022, 6:43 pm

"A young journalist prompts a reclusive piano superstar to open up, resulting in this stunning graphic sonata exploring a lifetime of rivalry, regret, and redemption."

Ballad for Sophie was such a nice surprise, so I want to spread the joy over here.

Mar 30, 2022, 10:08 am

Thanks, Mark, I've added both to the Club Read's Graphic Stories Recommendations list. It's now up-to-date.

Mar 31, 2022, 4:05 pm

>116 labfs39: The Usborne book in paperback retails for $9.99 and the Hinds version looks to be $14.99, so there's a minimal price point difference. My gut instinct is that, even though both versions are apparently intended for audiences 12+ (per the sale listings, at any rate), the Usborne trends toward a younger audience, while Hinds graphical adaptation trends to an older intended audience.

I will note that all the books in the Usborne graphic stories series have a similar art style, so at least some of the difference is likely publisher directed. Stylistic choice, rather than just a case of going with the lowest bidder. Ditto with textual adaptations.

Apr 1, 2022, 11:40 pm

Passport by Sophia Glock
Published 2021, 305 p.

Sophia Glock is the daughter of CIA intelligence agents and grew up moving to a new country every few years. This graphic work of "creative nonfiction" is her story. She says nothing is made up, but some events and people were altered either to protect their identity or to streamline the story. She had to get permission from the CIA Publication Review Board prior to publishing.

The story takes place while she and her family were living in Central America for about a year and a half. She is having to start over once again: new high school, new friends, but same old lies. She captures the angst-ridden inner life of a teen well. Making friends (and frenemies), rebelling against her parents, first boyfriend.

This summer is going to suck.
I can just tell.
I feel so stifled
...and yet so apart.
Also, it's just boring.
It's as if a gap has opened up—
and I don't feel like closing it.

The artwork is simple with minimal color (grayscale and peach), with the exception of a red dress, which is bold in it's symbolism.

Apr 2, 2022, 1:35 pm

>126 labfs39: Wow! I ordered this for a friend. Her dad was in the OSS (precursor to the CIA), which was chiefly tasked with finding ex-Nazis. She and her three sisters lived all over Europe and the Middle East in the 1950s and early 1960s, thinking their dad worked for a diplomatic wing of the government. One of them found her Dad's alternate passports and some disguise stuff one day. It was all quite a revelation for them. He had to assure them that his work bore no resemblance to James Bond's, that he had never killed anyone, and that they were in no danger (though that was not strictly true at all times).

Apr 2, 2022, 3:40 pm

>127 nohrt4me2: How interesting, and so similar in some ways to the author's experience. She didn't find out until she was in high school. She had an older brother and sister who had been sent abroad to boarding school, and two younger brothers. I thought it interesting that spies would choose to have a large family, but I guess it helps their cover in a way. She talks about having been in one country when there was a coup and was astonished that they weren't going to evacuate.

My best friend in grad school flew to Langley for interviews at the CIA, and although she said she didn't get in, I sort of always wondered. Would she have to tell me that, if she had gotten in? She changed her name and we lost track of each other within two years.

Apr 2, 2022, 6:25 pm

>128 labfs39: Yes, ideally an operative would have a family. Less suspicious. There really wasn't a lot of cloak-and-dagger except for the multiple identities. Most agents are placed in situations where they will be in proximity to an individual or group, and then they listen for certain bits of info and to pass it up the line. Often, they don't know what it all adds up to. My friend, her mother, and sisters were hustled out of Italy one night and allowed to take nothing with them. Somehow the dad's cover was blown, and they were taken back to the States. He joined them a few days later. Their belongings and clothes arrived later. She said that other ops specialists probably checked things for bugs before they were returned.

Yes, your friend would probably have had to tell you she didn't get in. Mine went to work for the foreign service in Germany after college, way before the Wall came down. I suspect she might have been a conduit/courier at some low level for that brief time. But her interests were not political. And I don't think she would have talked so freely about her dad's OSS work had she been on the inside.

Apr 3, 2022, 6:22 pm

>126 labfs39: That looks fascinating, and I'm enjoying the conversation around it.

Edited: Apr 22, 2022, 8:06 pm

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
Published 2020, 204 p.

George Takei is an actor, activist, and author, most famous for his role as Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek. As a child he was incarcerated for the duration of World War II with his family in Japanese interment camps, first in Arkansas and then northern California. This graphic novel is the story of his years in the camps, his discussions with his father about the camps as a young adult, and his work to educate others about this shameful episode in American history and to promote tolerance and activism in the democratic process.

The artwork was done by Harmony Becker, and I liked the simple black and white drawings. There were usually 5-6 frames per page, which sometimes necessitated small type. I liked the quotes from politicians then and since, and the photos and documents reproduced at the end.

Apr 22, 2022, 7:32 pm

>131 labfs39: I liked it. He gave a more complete explanation about why some of of the incarcerated declined to join the armed forces.

Apr 22, 2022, 8:04 pm

>132 nohrt4me2: I too found the discussion of the "no-no" issue to be interesting. Several times his family (and others) were caught in these dilemmas where to protest sometimes had unforeseen consequences (like answering no leading to incarceration in a harsher camp or giving up citizenship so that one could stay "protected" in the camps leading to potential forced repatriation).

Edited: May 1, 2022, 3:58 pm

When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers by Ken Krimstein

Cyrel (torontoc) led me here. And this thread sort of paved to drawing my interest.

It‘s amazing these stories exist. During a cleaning of St George‘s Church, a decommissioned church in Vilna, Lithuania, in 2017, a trove of hidden papers were found in the organ pipes. These were Yiddish biographies of teenagers from the late 1930‘s. They had entered a competition that was never awarded because of WWII. Of course there are no more Yiddish teenagers in Europe. The works were hidden from the Nazis and then the Soviets. Krimstein has illustrated 6.

Krimstein calls these stories voices of a lost world. They are not deep elaborate stories, and they of course were not composed under the duress of Holocaust or any awareness of what was over the horizons. So they feel lighter than we might want with our hindsight. They are optimistic, and also on the problems of their lives and era. They touch on tensions with the religious traditions, on Jewish youth groups associated with communist and socialist ideals, your membership largely reflecting your family's economics, and, of course, on teenage crushes. The stories were anonymous, based on the rules of the competition. But not everyone followed this rule. One girl who provided her name and photograph was recognized by her American children. She had emigrated to the US. I felt the graphic aspect was mixed. Some pages felt very unfinished to me, but others are memorable. You can get a feeling for them here:

May 1, 2022, 7:56 pm

>134 dchaikin: I’m going to request that one from the library right now. I keep forgetting

May 4, 2022, 4:32 pm

Powell's Bookstore in Oregon posted this list of ten graphic novels to read for Asian American Pacific Islander Month.

May 4, 2022, 11:25 pm

>136 labfs39: thanks! The memoirs appeal.

May 5, 2022, 12:49 pm

>137 dchaikin: I can vouch for The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui and They Called Us Enemy. Both were very good.

Jun 5, 2022, 6:59 pm

>138 labfs39: I agree with both of these!

Jun 6, 2022, 6:43 pm

Crossposting this I am. Having scanned the reviews posted to the book page, I know that a number of you (posters to this thread) have (mostly) enjoyed this. I've included scans of some pages to convey the visual aspect of the book.

Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss Finished 1/24/22

The Weird Book ReportTM

Radioactive is a marvelous book. It's at once a biographical sketch of two pioneering researchers of radioactivity, a truly romantic love story, and a chilling history-of-the-science report. Presented through vibrantly colorful and lyrical, though curiously awkward, illustrations, Radioactive challenges the conventional image of the "Graphic Novel".

Marie and Pierre Curie—and their scientific work— are the subjects. Pierre Curie was born into science, son of a physician working in a neuroanatomical lab. He proved himself early and often, earning a university degree at 16, publishing a scientific paper at 21, and joining the Sorbonne's mineralogy lab to study crystals. Marya Sklodowska, on the other hand, was born into a working class Polish family living in Warsaw under Russian rule. A feature of early education included surprise interrogations by a state inspector who demanded students recite the names of Tzars and members of the imperial family. To get the education she wanted, she joined the Flying University, a clandestine network of a thousand women who met in secret and defied Russian control of education. Nevertheless, at 18, Marya took herself to Paris.

In 1891, the year 32-year-old Pierre began his doctoral dissertation ("Magnetic Properties of Bodies at Diverse Temperatures"), the 24-year-old Marya enrolled at the Sorbonne as Marie. She was one of only 23 female students among the total enrollment of 1800. Having completed degrees in mathematics and in physics in two years, she was hired by a national lab to study the magnetic properties of steel. She was working in borrowed space in a crowded lab until a Polish physicist visiting Paris introduced her to "a scientist of great merit": Pierre Curie. Thereafter, Marie reported on their introduction:
Upon entering the room I perceived, standing framed by the French window opening on the balcony, a tall young man with auburn hair and large, limpid eyes. I noticed the grave and gentle expression of his face, as well a certain abandon in his attitude, suggesting the dreamer absorbed in his reflections…We began a conversation which soon became friendly.

The two immediately began sharing lab space and research. Pierre persuaded Marie to marry him. They had a daughter and named her Irene. They collaborated in all ways, even keeping the same diary. Together they demonstrated the existence of two new elements, radium and polonium (the latter named for Marie's homeland, Poland). For this work, the Curies won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1902.


Radium is simultaneously mesmerizing and deadly. Both Marie and Pierre were captivated by its glow, and while aware of the hazard, they handled the material during long days in their lab. Marie slept with a tiny radium crumb in a vial beside her pillow. Ultimately, the exposure undermined Marie's health, delaying the Stockholm trip to accept the Prize for more than a year.


Marie and Pierre Curie's lives are presented in a straight chronology. But accounts of the dramatic, often terrible but occasional beneficial, impacts of their discoveries, often decades later, disrupt the timeline. The linkage is essential.


The book is entirely Redniss's. She organized the presentation, wrote the text. She laid out the pages. She created the illustrations, using a technique called "cyanoprinting". (The process is an old one and is used to make blueprints.) She added colors to the prints using paints or colored pencils. She even designed the typeface.

The artwork in Radioactive is unique. Not inspired by comic-strip conventions, it doesn't use the comic artist's vocabulary. Too, the book's design bends the conventions of story presentation. There's no grid, no uniform lineup of panels, each depicting an action, a phrase of dialog or a reaction or an emotion. Redniss may have used a grid to guide her layouts, but if she did, it is transparent. The art and the text blocks (which seldom are "blocks") flow across the spreads.

I first read Radioactive about 10 years ago. At the time, graphic novels were comics in the guise of books. Each page presented a grid of panels with cartoon figures and dialog balloons. Redniss's concept blew me away. It was—and still is, of course—a book aglow, perfectly fitting the topics.


The book is not lacking in scandal.


Jun 6, 2022, 8:19 pm

>140 weird_O: Fantastic review! I first read it when I was new to graphic novels, and I was overwhelmed. I liked it, but I think I would appreciate it a whole lot more now that I have a better understanding of graphic works. It remains vivid in my memory despite having read it almost exactly 11 years ago.

Jun 7, 2022, 1:51 pm

>140 weird_O: Oh that looks fabulous, and I hadn't seen it before. Thank you!

Jun 24, 2022, 5:24 pm

# 14. Mooncop by Tom Gauld Finished 2/3/22. 

The Weird ReportTM

Mooncop is a graphic story, told primarily through drawings in Tom Gauld's characteristic style. There's some laconic dialog, but no written narrative. A man is hired to police a space colony established on a distant planet or moon (I guess a moon, given the story's title). He has an apartment, and works out of the police headquarters. Usually, he's patrolling in a hovercraft-type vehicle. Not much happens. The colony is sparsely populated, and many of the space pioneers are packing it in to return to earth. Equipment fails and replacement parts are scarce. Will the mooncop depart too? He's thinking about it.





Oh, the perils of isolation.

Jun 24, 2022, 7:12 pm

>143 weird_O: This story sounds a lot like some of the stories in The Martian Chronicles at the point where the colonies start to fizzle out. Looks like a good read!

Jun 25, 2022, 10:24 am

>143 weird_O: Ha! I love that he hangs out at Lunar Donuts. And the dog in his bubble...

Added to the CR recommended graphics list

Jul 15, 2022, 4:25 pm

A Visit to Moscow adapted by Anna Olswanger from a story by Rabbi Rafael Grossman, illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg
Published 2022, 71 p.

In 1965 Rabbi Grossman travelled to the Soviet Union as part of a group investigating claims that the Soviets were persecuting Jews. He brought with him a letter from a congregant who had not heard from her brother in ten years. Feigning illness, the rabbi evades his Soviet minder and goes looking for him.

The story is an interesting one, although it is unclear which parts are true and which fiction (the rabbi has passed away, so the author is unable to clarify). But what I found most impressive were the illustrations. The illustrator was raised in Ukraine under Soviet rule, although she lives in New York now. In an afterward, she talks about watching old Soviet film noir and looking at photos from the 1960s in order to capture the feel of the time and place. The result is blocky, with colorful backgrounds and figures vividly outlined in ink.

Aug 14, 2022, 10:11 am

Putin's Russia: Rise of a Dictator by Darryl Cunningham 5 stars

This illustrated biography on Putin, is simply outstanding. It covers his rise in the KGB, to becoming one of the richest and most powerful leaders in the world. Like most of us, I knew Putin was a bad, corrupt man but I had no idea the level of malovelence this man was capable of. It is simply a horror story and it continues. How a past president of ours could cozy up to this monster is truly appalling. Highly recommended.

“Every time (Putin) sees me, he says “I didn’t do that”. And I believe-I really believe- that when he tells me that, he means it.”

-Donald J. Trump

Edited: Aug 16, 2022, 10:56 pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Aug 17, 2022, 9:56 am

It's been fun to see such a range of stories. I'm going to pick some out to order as the family smash birthdays solstice-New Year present!

Sep 3, 2022, 11:01 am

Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated from the Korean by Janet Hong
Published 2017, English translation 2019, 478 p.

Korean graphic novelist Keum Suk Gendry-Kim spent three years researching and writing Grass. Originally she wanted to write about social class during the Japanese occupation from a feminist perspective, but after meeting survivor Granny Lee Ok-sun, she decided to write her story instead.

Like many Korean farming families under Japanese occupation in the 1930s, Lee Ok-sun's family was starving. After her father was hurt at work, Ok-sun was basically sold to an udon restaurant owner in another city. She was told that she would finally get to go to school and would have plenty to eat. The reality was she was slave labor. Then in 1942 on her way back from running an errand, Ok-sun was abducted and taken to China to a "comfort station." These stations were brothels where sexual slaves, usually young Korean girls, were forced to service Japanese soldiers. At the time, Ok-sun was fifteen years old.

This is not an easy novel to read. Fortunately the narrative is broken up between the present, where the author is interviewing Lee Ok-sun, and her past. I think if it had been written in a chronological fashion, it would have been overwhelmingly dark. At least this way, the reader could escape to the present occasionally. It's a technique that I have often seen in graphic novels such as Maus and 15015352::Second Generation.

The artwork alternates between frames with heavy brushstrokes, often nature scenes, and more traditional outlined characters. The soldiers are faceless, because Ok-sun says they were all the same. There is a heft to the book and to the drawings that suit the topic. The only color is on the cover. The author does some interesting things with overlays and fadeouts, but my favorite drawings were those of nature.

Although it was a difficult to read, I found the book compelling and the artwork interesting. I'm glad her books are being translated into English and reaching a wider audience.

Sep 3, 2022, 11:15 am

I've just finished Neil Gaiman's series The Sandman. I haven't written a review yet, but it was very, very good, and I recommend it.

Sep 7, 2022, 3:30 pm

The Waiting by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated from the Korean by Janet Hong
Published 2021, English translation 2021, 247 p.

After the Korean war, the peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel. Thousands of refugees who had fled the fighting in the north were now stranded south of the demilitarized zone. Since the 1980s, there have been periodic family reunification meetings, but they are subject to the vagaries of political will and manipulation. In South Korea, families are chosen by lottery. Although over 133,000 South Koreans have applied since 1988, over 60% have already passed away. 20,000 people have been able to participate in a family reunion meeting. The rest wait.

The author's mother is one of those waiting to be allowed to meet her sister. This book arose from the author's interviews with her mother and two other elderly Koreans who were separated from family during the war. The result is a novel based on the anguish of the original separation, the desperation of not knowing if your loved ones have survived, and the repeatedly dashed hopes of not being chosen for the sporadically arranged meetings.

Although I liked The Waiting, I felt it didn't have quite the power of her first graphic novel, Grass. I also missed the nature imagery that permeated Grass. Still a worthwhile read, however.

Sep 9, 2022, 8:31 am

Might be time for a part two thread. This thread is consistently loading up at post 120, at least for me. Probably because it's so image-heavy.
This topic was continued by THE GRAPHIC STORIES - Part 2.