schmevil: (misha)
[personal profile] schmevil posting in [community profile] scans_daily
[Late post is late! I wish I had a more interesting excuse, but I've been writing a paper.]

Non-fiction comics, there are more than you think. In most discussions of Important, Serious and Non-Fiction Comics, the first work trotted out is Maus. Then maybe a few biographies, some graphic journalism, perhaps Scott McCloud. Maus is wonderful of course, and deserves all the praise and attention it gets, but there's more to non-fiction comics (hey look, there's a Wikipedia entry for you to explore at your leisure). I read a lot of non-fiction comics, everything from bios, to memoirs, to literary criticism, to political stuff--because hello, two great tastes that go great together.

Today I'm going to share a few pages, and link to some reviews and interviews with some of the better known creators doing graphic non-fiction.

Art Spiegelman


It won the Pulitzer. It's taught in innumerable courses, in innumerable schools. More than likely, you have already read it--I don't know what else to say about this most famous work of graphic non-fiction. Here's an interview with Spiegelman from Irish radio program Invisible Threads.

Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
The 9/11 Report, A Graphic Adaptation, After 9/11 & Che: A Graphic Biography

I love Ernie Colon's art and I unabashedly love Sid Jacobson's narrative skills. In 9/11 Report he adapted a bone dry government document to something readable. With After 9/11 they move into graphic journalism proper, looking at changing US policy and journalistic trends post 9/11. Here's a 2006 NPR interview with the creators.

Alison Bechdel

Fun Home

Oh how I love Fun Home. Bechel's pencils are adorable and surprisingly effective. The narrative is efficient, layered, and so goddamn smart. It's a history of her relationship with her father, a lesbian coming of age story, and tragedy all at once. And the words. As this somewhat condescending (comics--writing? c'mon son) says:

It is a pioneering work, pushing two genres (comics and memoir) in multiple new directions, with panels that combine the detail and technical proficiency of R. Crumb with a seriousness, emotional complexity and innovation completely its own. Then there are the actual words. Generally this is where graphic narratives stumble. Very few cartoonists can also write — or, if they can, they manage only to hit a few familiar notes. But "Fun Home" quietly succeeds in telling a story, not only through well-crafted images but through words that are equally revealing and well chosen. Big words, too! In 232 pages this memoir sent me to the dictionary five separate times (to look up "bargeboard," "buss," "scutwork," "humectant" and "perseverated").

And hey, have you checked out Dykes To Watch Out For?

Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis & Chicken With Plums

Like Bechdel, Satrapi's work is highly personal, and highly political. Persepolis explores her childhood in Iran, during the Islamic Revolution. Chicken With Plums is the story of her musician uncle, Nasser Ali Khan. See the trailer for the film adaptation of Persepolis and read an 8 page excerpt here.

Joe Sacco

Palestine & The Fixer

Sacco is a graphic journalist, doing investigative and editorial work that's generally a lot more emotional and affecting than Colon and Jacobson's. Also, I love his pencils. You can download a free 8 page comic about the war in Iraq (courtesy of The Guardian) here

And then there's Scott McCloud.

Understanding Comics, Zot, Reinventing Comics

About whom I shouldn't have to say much. McCloud is a cartoonist and comics theorist who's is best known for Understanding Comics, which was published in 1993 and changed the way a lot of people (especially outside the business) look at comics. And hey, here's a TED Talk.

Ok, so that's my non-fiction comics plug. What are your favourite non-fiction comics? (Seriously, any recs?)

Date: 2010-12-16 02:20 am (UTC)
sandoz_iscariot: John Lennon in a suit and glasses, striking a nerdy pose. (Beatles: NEEEEEERD!)
From: [personal profile] sandoz_iscariot
This reminds me, I need to read Beats: A Comic History.

HELL YES, FUN HOME. One of my favorite books. Seriously peeps, if you haven't read it, run, don't walk to your comic shop.

Date: 2010-12-17 12:38 am (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
Fun Home yeah! I was just recommending it to a friend, because it is splendid.

Date: 2010-12-16 02:23 am (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
I put this comment in another post by mistake, so here it is in the right place:

I couldn't let Non-Fiction Comics Day go by without a link to this wonderful collection of downloadable government-issue comics from a variety of eras. Blondie, Yogi Bear, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, various Will Eisner and Al Capp creations, just a treasure trove of oddities. I'm sure it's the sort of thing that'll appeal to a lot of the folks here.

Here's a sample from a parenting book that Walt Kelly produced for the gummint:

It's very SD-oriented, in that Pogo himself is frequently referred to in the text as a "mother parent". Pretty progressive for 1961!

Date: 2010-12-16 03:03 am (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
I live to serve. =D

I just wish I wasn't deep in finals, or I would have made a much bigger post with samples from a few.

Date: 2010-12-16 03:08 am (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
Yeah, I'm behind on a 4-second character animation, having trouble getting the breakdowns right.

Date: 2010-12-16 03:22 am (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
Oh, I love my course. It's exactly what I want to do with the remainder of my working life. It's just hard, is all.

Oh well. One of my motivations in the first place was learning to draw better, and it seems to be having some effect.

Date: 2010-12-17 12:39 am (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
;_; So cute... So friggin' cute.

Date: 2010-12-16 02:34 am (UTC)
misterbug: (Default)
From: [personal profile] misterbug
I recommended Persepolis to a guy who's studying Maus as part of his history course, and got a little rush of satisfaction to see how enthusiastic he was about being recommended a comic. This is why I go to Uni.

ALSO: I don't have scans, otherwise I'd do it, but how could you forget Craig Thompson's "Blankets"?

Date: 2010-12-16 02:42 am (UTC)
misterbug: (Default)
From: [personal profile] misterbug
Save it for a quiet afternoon with coffee and a good'll need it.

Date: 2010-12-16 03:05 am (UTC)
suzene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] suzene
"Fun Home" is my big one; it never fails to just put me through the emotional wringer.

"First In Space" -- about Ham the Chimp, the first homid to go into outer space, is a very good book, if a bit sad. In a similar vein, "Laika" kills me, especially knowing now what a waste it was, but it's very well done.

Date: 2010-12-16 03:54 am (UTC)
sallymustard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sallymustard
Laika! Yes, Laika was amazingly done and amazingly tear-inspiring.

Date: 2010-12-16 04:01 am (UTC)
suzene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] suzene
I really don't know why I did that to myself. Laika's story was pretty much my Old Yeller when I was a kid, so I knew that book was going to wreck me. But yes, it was just sooo good.

Date: 2010-12-16 04:06 am (UTC)
sallymustard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sallymustard
The end is so extremely sweetsad, too. Ugh, just thinking about it kind of bums me out.

On that note, whenever thinking about it bums me out, I take a look at this cap<,/a> from the book and it helps ward that off a bit.

Date: 2010-12-16 03:07 am (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
I used to have a copy of I Saw It, which was a survivor's first-hand account of Hiroshima, done in a fairly cartoony style. Totally captured my attention, although most of it was the sort of horrors and survival stories I'd expected to find.

The same author expanded on the concept for his more fictionalized story, Barefoot Gen.

Date: 2010-12-16 03:59 am (UTC)
sallymustard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sallymustard
Robert Crumb did really amazing comic illustrations for a bio book about Franz Kafka.

Date: 2010-12-16 04:32 am (UTC)
destroyed: (Default)
From: [personal profile] destroyed
Reading that review, I'm glad I'm not the only person in the world who knows enough history to recognize Che as a butcher and a failure, rather than "Dude, he like, totally revolutionized South America and that's why he's on my messenger bag!"

Date: 2010-12-16 04:36 am (UTC)
proteus_lives: (Default)
From: [personal profile] proteus_lives
Thank you.

I roll my eyes whenever people gush about that Stalinist thug.

Date: 2010-12-16 06:23 am (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Holy moley, where do I start? Yes, Fun Home (although I was a fan of Bechdel from the early nineties), some of Crumb's stuff, Pekar, Chester Brown, Joe Matt up until his latest stuff (his earlier stuff for Snarf, with dozens of postage-stamp-sized panels on a single page, is pretty fantastic even if you don't like his more recent work). More recently, Gabrielle Bell and Jeffrey Brown. (Brown is a bit of an acquired taste; I'd compare his work to Phillip Glass--individual bits aren't that much, but the repetition and variation on his themes makes the total work kind of astonishing.)

Yeah, I'm a sucker for autobio. One of the more interesting projects that I've come across is Ariel Schrag's high school graphic diaries, Awkward/Definition, Potential, and Likewise. They're cartoon diaries that she wrote and drew at the time of the events, meaning that she began them at 14, and even though there are probably better artists than her at that age, her evolution--not only in her writing and drawing but mentally and emotionally--are pretty incredible to watch; she goes from obsessing over Gwen Stefani and Juliette Lewis to realizing that she's a lesbian and that the young woman that she loves wholeheartedly won't love her back. It's something just to watch her experiment with her artistic style, even when it doesn't really work.

Finally, another extended work is Dennis Eichhorn's autobio work for Fantagraphics, including the main series Real Stuff, Real Smut (sexually-oriented material), and Real Schmuck (a one-off from another publisher containing stuff that Fantagraphics didn't want to publish, including the real story behind a story about a McDonald's heiress that Gary Groth would only publish as a roman a clef). Eichhorn is a raconteur that can can spin a tale out of anecdotes that in the hands of most people would seem mostly embarrassing or flat-out unlikely.

Date: 2010-12-17 12:42 am (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
Liz Prince is a newcomer to autobio comics but her work is quite funny and poignant and I would recommend it to any Jeffrey Brown fan. :D

Date: 2010-12-16 06:31 am (UTC)
silverzeo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverzeo
I've seen that movie at college a couple of months ago!

Date: 2010-12-16 06:48 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
McCloud also did a little thing called Making Comics, which has a lot of good advice for anyone interested in telling stories of any kind in any medium.

Date: 2010-12-16 07:37 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Fun Home! Wow, that's an awesome comic.

Pyongyang by Guy Delisle is amazingly detailed and absurd. I have to get hold of Burma Chronicles by the same author.

Date: 2010-12-17 12:42 am (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
Ohhh man, all of Delisle's travelogues are incredible!

Date: 2010-12-16 08:11 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
I guess I've got to go with 'Understanding Comics' and 'Persepolis'.

Date: 2010-12-16 02:34 pm (UTC)
morgana006: Deadpool spilling coffee on his mask (Default)
From: [personal profile] morgana006
I like Persepolis and Scott McCloud's comics about comics stuff.

I recently picked up "How to Understand Israel in 60 or Less" which is pretty good.

And Chester Brown's Louis Riel is good too.

Date: 2010-12-17 12:45 am (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
Don't forget "One Hundred Demons!" by Lynda Barry, the queen of semi-non fiction. As she puts it: "Is is an autobiography if parts of it didn't happen? Is it fiction if parts of it did?" All I know is, above all else her work is honest.


scans_daily: (Default)
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