Comics on serious topics

Graphic Novel Reading List

by Doug E. L. Haynes

The following titles represent some new directions for comics.
In the year that I became a cancer survivor I found the following books of interest.
-My Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar
-Mom’s Cancer by Bryan Fies
-Cancer Vixen by Marissa Acocella Marchetto
-Cancer Made me a Shallow Person by Miriam Engleberg

The following books take on a variety of serious topics not usually associated with the art form.
Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen is a first person account of the bombing of Hiroshima
Osamu Tezaka is one of the early pioneers of the graphic novel in Japan. I recommend his 8 volume set on the life of Buddha.
The book Palestine was written in the early 90’s by Joe Sacco. It describes the hardships of daily life in the occupied West Bank. Unfortunately the situation there has not changed much so the book is still current.
The graphic novel Birth of a Nation follows the premise that the African American occupants of East St. Louis secede from the union and form an independent nation. That book is authored by Aaron McGruder, Reginold Hudin and Kyle Baker.
Eagle: The making of an American President, which was written in 2001, tells the story of the first non-white presidential candidate. The author, Kaiji Kawaguchi, has many good insights on our electoral process. One might expect such a topic to be dull but Kawaguchi weaves in romance, mystery and a lot of suspence.

When I was young most comics were for boys, so I wanted to draw attention to a number of titles that are attracting young girls to the genre. Nevertheless I would recommend many of the books to readers of all ages and genders.
The pink covers of Babymouse, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, make it crystal clear for whom the book was intended.
The Courageous Princes by Rod Espinoza has been read by my daughter about 100 times.
My daughter also wants to be sure you know about W.I.T.C.H. by Elisabetta Gnone and the Star Wars Clone Wars books, which are quite well drawn.
The Akiko series by Mark Crilley, were so good they inspired my daughter to write a letter to the author.
As my daugher gets older I imagine she might take an interest in titles such as Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki or The Regifters by Mike Carey.
Another title with a heroine that made me laugh out loud is Halo and Sprocket by Kerry Callen.