McCloud, Scout. The Sculptor.

NY: First Seccond, 2015.

McCloud is probably best known for his excellent instructional volumes about graphic novels and “sequential art” generally, but he has also published several well-received examples of his own. And this fat volume — more than 500 pages — is his best and most mature work yet, hands down.


Published in: on 26 January 2019 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Feiffer, Jules. Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel.

NY: Liveright, 2014.

Feiffer is an amazing cartoonist with amazing longevity. He started drawing for publication shortly after World War II, became Will Eisner’s assistant at the age of seventeen, and his work was showing up in New Yorker, Esquire, and Playboy while Eisenhower was still in the White House. He won every artistic award there is, including an Academy Award, and then branched out into novels, stage plays, and screenplays.


Fitzgerald, Meags. Photobooth: A Biography.

Greenwich, NS: Conundrum Press, 2014.

I’m old enough to remember when nearly every dime store, bus station, and amusement park had a coin-operated photobooth. Close the curtain, take a seat, feed in a couple of quarters, and smile — or, more likely, if you were a teenager, make faces. And out would come a strip of six black-and-white wallet-size portraits. Because the image was printed directly to paper and there was no negative, each shot was unique and non-repeatable — a tiny time capsule of a single moment in your life.


Published in: on 15 October 2018 at 5:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Mack, Stan. Taxes, the Tea Party, and Those Revolting Rebels: A History in Comics of the American Revolution.

NY: NBM Publishing, 1994.

I can’t help it, I’m always a little suspicious of books that attempt to impart serious nonfictional material to younger readers in a “cartoon” format. It’s so easy to talk down and to err on the side of froth.


Published in: on 6 October 2018 at 7:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Prince, Liz. Tomboy.

San Francisco: Zest Books, 2014.

The author calls herself “an autobiographical cartoonist,” and this is the story of her struggle to get through childhood — but from a very particular perspective. Liz was always a “tomboy.” Meaning, actually, that she always wanted to somehow BE a boy.


Niimura, Ken. Henshin.

Berkeley, CA: Image Comics, 2015.

The title means “transformation” in Japanese, and that’s supposed to be the theme of the thirteen short graphic stories in this collection, but it’s sometimes difficult to see how it’s supposed to apply. Most of the stories themselves are not bad, though.


Published in: on 28 September 2018 at 1:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Knisley, Lucy. Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride.

NY: First Second, 2016.

I’ve been a fan of Lucy’s graphic memoirs since French Milk, and this nearly 300-page volume is sort of the culmination, her graduation into what she thinks of as “real” adulthood. She’s been relatively successful, too, with four books out before her 30th birthday, strong praise for all of them, and undoubtedly more to come. If you’ve read all her books over the past decade, you know that she and a guy named John were happily together in Chicago for five years while she attended the Art Institute and he made his first assault on the tech world. (They both revel in being self-declared nerds.)


Published in: on 26 September 2018 at 8:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Carlson, David L. & Landis Blair. The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry.

NY: First Second, 2017.

If you’re in the market for a really involving graphic novel that will keep you absorbed for hours and have you hunting up background material so you can learn more, I strongly recommend this one. It’s the winter of 1959 in Chicago and ten-year-old Charlie Rizzo has just returned to live with his father following his divorced mother’s death in California. He doesn’t really know his father that well, except that he’s blind and writes poetry, but his mother and grandmother had felt the need to “save” Charlie from him five years earlier.


Nadler, Steven & Ben Nadler. Heretics! The Wondrous (and Dangerous) beginnings of Modern Philosphy.

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.

As an undergraduate many years ago, I took quite a few courses in the history of philosophy, simply because I needed an easy second minor and (once you learn the actual history), philosophy doesn’t really have any right or wrong answers. I learned a lot and I’ve maintained an interest, so I had high hopes for this uncommon graphic approach to the subject in its more recent centuries.


Published in: on 5 September 2018 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Padua, Sydney. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.

NY: Pantheon, 2015.

I’ve long been fascinated by Charles Babbage and his “difference engine” (almost always confused with his completely separate “analytical engine,” which was the first instance of the concepts which grew into the digital computer, more than a century later), especially after reading Gibson and Sterling’s 1991 novel. Babbage was a first-rate mathematician — he held Isaac Newton’s Lucasian Chair of math at Cambridge, most recently occupied by Stephen Hawking — but Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the only legitimate child of the mad, bad, dangerous Lord Byron, was a certified math genius.