😍 A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Autobiographical Comics! đŸ˜

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Image from the Introduction to Lynda Barry’s One Hundred Demons!

A Comprehensive Beginners Guide to Autobiographical Comics!

Introduction to Graphic Novels

Graphic novels use any combination of text and illustrations to convey a story. Contrary to popular misconception, they are for any and all age and reading levels. Some graphic novels are more text heavy while others rely completely on imagery to tell a story or communicate an idea; sometimes they are composed of text that takes on illustration characteristics 

They are difficult to define.

Many graphic novels resemble comic books, and the material is often collected from comics, however graphic novels are generally sturdier than comic books, for example hard-bound, or with soft bindings that are more durable than comics.

This guide focuses on graphic novels that are life narratives at least partially written as autobiographies by the authors. However, graphic life narratives do not have to be autobiographical, or even biographical, and often even autobiographical graphic novels contain elements of fantasy or surrealism, to convey a different sort of truth— to capture an emotion, experience, or memory, for example. Graphic novels generally can be fictional, non-fictional, or a combination of both.

Each comic may fit within more than one subject area. As such, this guide aims to place them within the categories that will benefit those interested in specific subject areas. Please consider this while browsing the bibliographic reading lists. Additionally, please consider that the bibliographical reading lists in this guide serve as a thorough introduction to the genre—but by no means are they a complete list of contemporary graphic autobiography!

This guide is intended to be a portal to enable anyone to explore their interest in the rewarding genre of graphic autobiographies, a place where you will find resources that aid in thinking and writing critically about this ever-evolving genre. This guide will also provide resources on zines and diary writing as this guide’s author believes they are also important themes in graphic autobiography 🙂

I created this originally for University of Toronto students and researchers, but I have adapted it to be accessible to wider readerships.

Please contact me if you would like to suggest a resource!

Researching Graphic Novels

Finding Graphic Novels in the Library by Shelf Browsing

Graphic novels are often shelved in PN6700-6790; the Library of Congress Classification defines this section as “Comic books, strips, etc.”. So, if you would like to generally peruse graphic novels (not necessarily autobiographical), browsing the shelves in this section is a good way to go about it!

However, there are also graphic novels shelved elsewhere, for example in art (N), and graphic novels that are non-fiction, such as memoirs and biographies, might also be shelved in sections that relate to their subject matter, depending on how a particular library catalogues these books. For example, Chester Brown’s biography on Louis Riel could be shelved in Canadian History (FC), or Al Davison’s graphic memoir about severe spina bfida might be shelved in Medicine (R).

Library of Congress Subject Headings

The University of Toronto Library System and many other libraries are organized by the Library of Congress Subject Headings. When selecting a subject heading attached to a source within a library record, library members can find all of the sources within the library that are associated to that subject heading. Below are the key subject headings when searching for material on graphic autobiographies.

The most commonly used Library of Congress Subjects for graphic novels are:

  • Graphic novels
  • Comic books, strips, etc.

Below are links to two “customized” Catalogue searches that will take you to lots of graphic novels at U of T. The results of the two searches overlap somewhat but each contains unique results.

This customized search finds all books shelved in PN6700-PN6790, at all U of T libraries.
You can refine your search to a specific library such as Robarts or Victoria (Pratt) or University College.

This customized search finds all books with a relevant Subject (graphic novels OR comic books OR cartoons OR humor pictorial OR cartoonists), at any U of T library. 
You can also refine this search to one library such as Robarts or Victoria (Pratt) or University College.

When searching for graphic autobiographical comics by subject:

  • Graphic novels about specific subjects are sometimes hard to find in a library catalogue. There are some subject headings and terms that are often used in addition to the generic Graphic Novels and Comic Books, Strips, Etc. For example, common subjects and terms used for sexual diversity-related material include: Gay Men, Gays, Lesbians, Transgender people, Bisexual. 
  • For autobiographical comics generally, you can try searching “personal narratives or graphic novels” as well, or use a similar combination of desired search terms; if you would like to read a graphic autobiography on a particular subject, you can begin with a broad search, and then narrow it down by desired subject and then call number using the menu on the left of the U of T catalogue search page, keeping in mind the popular call number for graphic novels is PN.

When searching for critical writing on autobiographical comics, or reference monographs:

  • In the general U of T library catalogue search, type in “Comic books, strips, etc.–History and criticism”.
  • For graphic autobiography, go to menu on left, and try narrowing the subject to: “Autobiographical Comic Books, Strips, Etc.”;  “Autobiography In Literature”; “graphic novels”, etc.
  • Look on the menu on the left, and then narrow your search by: library, subject, call number, format, author, etc. to best fit what you are searching for.

Tip: Start with a broader search and narrow it down using the subject menu on the left of the page, especially if you are unsure of what it is exactly that you are looking for!

A Selection of Reference and Critical Reading on Graphic Life Narratives

Most of these works situate women’s comics as a responsive movement to male-dominated underground comix that included artists such as Robert Crumb and Harvey Kurtzman, and do not trace women’s graphic life narratives to diary writing and independent publishing (for example the suffragette press); because of this (and maybe my own bias), I have included diary and zine resources as well in this guide.

This reading list draws from monographs published in the past five years, all available through the University of Toronto Libraries’ online catalogue (UTCat). This list links to the University of Toronto Library Catalogue. Title summaries can be found below this list:

On the Graphic Novel – Santiago GarcĂ­a; Bruce Campbell

Disaster Drawn: Visual Witness, Comics, and Documentary Form – Hilary L. Chute

Graphic Subjects – Michael A. Chaney

Graphic Women – Hillary L. Chute

Drawing New Color Lines – Monica Chiu

Autobiographical Comics – Elisabeth El Refaie

Projections – Jared Gardner

Graphic Justice – Thomas Giddens

Contemporary Comics Storytelling – Karin Kukkonen

Studying Comics and Graphic Novels – Karin Kukkonen

Graphic Details – Sarah Lightman

How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses? – Tahneer Oksman

The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel – Stephen E. Tabachnick

Drawing from Life – Jane Tolmie

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On the Graphic Novel by Santiago GarcĂ­a; Bruce Campbell (Translator)

ISBN: 9781628464818

Publication Date: 2015-06-10

A noted comics artist himself, Santiago GarcĂ­a follows the history of the graphic novel from early nineteenth-century European sequential art, through the development of newspaper strips in the United States, to the development of the twentieth-century comic book and its subsequent crisis. He considers the aesthetic and entrepreneurial innovations that established the conditions for the rise of the graphic novel all over the world. GarcĂ­a not only treats the formal components of the art, but also examines the cultural position of comics in various formats as a popular medium. Typically associated with children, often viewed as unedifying and even at times as a threat to moral character, comics art has come a long way. With such examples from around the world as Spain, France, Germany, and Japan, GarcĂ­a illustrates how the graphic novel, with its increasingly global and aesthetically sophisticated profile, represents a new model for graphic narrative production that empowers authors and challenges longstanding social prejudices against comics and what they can achieve.

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Disaster Drawn by Hillary L. Chute

ISBN: 9780674504516

Publication Date: 2016-01-12

In hard-hitting accounts of Auschwitz, Bosnia, Palestine, and Hiroshimaâe(tm)s Ground Zero, comics display a stunning capacity to bear witness to trauma. Investigating how hand-drawn comics has come of age as a serious medium for engaging history, Disaster Drawn explores the ways graphic narratives by diverse artists, including Jacques Callot, Francisco Goya, Keiji Nakazawa, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco, document the disasters of war. Hillary L. Chute traces how comics inherited graphic print traditions and innovations from the seventeenth century and later, pointing out that at every turn new forms of visual-verbal representation have arisen in response to the turmoil of war. Modern nonfiction comics emerged from the shattering experience of World War II, developing in the 1970s with Art Spiegelmanâe(tm)s first âeoeMausâe story about his immigrant familyâe(tm)s survival of Nazi death camps and with Hiroshima survivor Keiji Nakazawaâe(tm)s inaugural work of âeoeatomic bomb manga,âe the comic book Ore Wa Mita (âeoeI Saw Itâe)âe”a title that alludes to Goyaâe(tm)s famous Disasters of War etchings. Chute explains how the form of comicsâe”its collection of framesâe”lends itself to historical narrative. By interlacing multiple temporalities over the space of the page or panel, comics can place pressure on conventional notions of causality. Aggregating and accumulating frames of information, comics calls attention to itself as evidence. Disaster Drawn demonstrates why, even in the era of photography and film, people understand hand-drawn images to be among the most powerful forms of historical witness.

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Graphic Subjects by Michael A. Chaney

ISBN: 9780299251048

Publication Date: 2011-03-01

Some of the most noteworthy graphic novels and comic books of recent years have been entirely autobiographical. In Graphic Subjects, Michael A. Chaney brings together a lively mix of scholars to examine the use of autobiography within graphic novels, including such critically acclaimed examples as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, David Beauchard’s Epileptic, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese.             These essays, accompanied by visual examples, illuminate the new horizons that illustrated autobiographical narrative creates. The volume insightfully highlights the ways that graphic novelists and literary cartoonists have incorporated history, experience, and life stories into their work. The result is a challenging and innovative collection that reveals the combined power of autobiography and the graphic novel.

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Graphic Women by Hillary L. Chute

ISBN: 9780231150637

Publication Date: 2010-11-16

Some of the most acclaimed books of the twenty-first century are autobiographical comics by women. Aline Kominsky-Crumb is a pioneer of the autobiographical form, showing women’s everyday lives, especially through the lens of the body. Phoebe Gloeckner places teenage sexuality at the center of her work, while Lynda Barry uses collage and the empty spaces between frames to capture the process of memory. Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis experiments with visual witness to frame her personal and historical narrative, and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home meticulously incorporates family documents by hand to re-present the author’s past. These five cartoonists move the art of autobiography and graphic storytelling in new directions, particularly through the depiction of sex, gender, and lived experience. Hillary L. Chute explores their verbal and visual techniques, which have transformed autobiographical narrative and contemporary comics. Through the interplay of words and images, and the counterpoint of presence and absence, they express difficult, even traumatic stories while engaging with the workings of memory. Intertwining aesthetics and politics, these women both rewrite and redesign the parameters of acceptable discourse.

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Drawing New Color Lines by Monica Chiu

ISBN: 9789888139385

Publication Date: 2015-03-31

The global circulation of comics, manga, and other such visual mediums between North America and Asia produces transnational meanings no longer rooted in a separation between “Asian” and “American.” Drawing New Color Lines explores the culture, production, and history of contemporary graphic narratives that depict Asian Americans and Asians. It examines how Japanese manga and Asian popular culture have influenced Asian American comics; how these comics and Asian American graphic narratives depict the “look” of race; and how these various representations are interpreted in nations not of their production. By focusing on what graphic narratives mean for audiences in North America and those in Asia, the collection discusses how Western theories about the ways in which graphic narratives might successfully overturn derogatory caricatures are themselves based on contested assumptions; and illustrates that the so-called odorless images featured in Japanese manga might nevertheless elicit interpretations about race in transnational contexts. With contributions from experts based in North America and Asia, Drawing New Color Lines will be of interest to scholars in a variety of disciplines, including Asian American studies, cultural and literary studies, comics and visual studies.

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Autobiographical Comics by Elisabeth El Refaie

ISBN: 9781617036132

Publication Date: 2012-10-24

A troubled childhood in Iran. Living with a disability. Grieving for a dead child. Over the last forty years the comic book has become an increasingly popular way of telling personal stories of considerable complexity and depth. In Autobiographical Comics: Life Writing in Pictures, Elisabeth El Refaie offers a long overdue assessment of the key conventions, formal properties, and narrative patterns of this fascinating genre. The book considers eighty-five works of North American and European provenance, works that cover a broad range of subject matters and employ many different artistic styles. Drawing on concepts from several disciplinary fields–including semiotics, literary and narrative theory, art history, and psychology–El Refaie shows that the traditions and formal features of comics provide new possibilities for autobiographical storytelling. For example, the requirement to produce multiple drawn versions of one’s self necessarily involves an intense engagement with physical aspects of identity, as well as with the cultural models that underpin body image. The comics medium also offers memoirists unique ways of representing their experience of time, their memories of past events, and their hopes and dreams for the future. Furthermore, autobiographical comics creators are able to draw on the close association in contemporary Western culture between seeing and believing in order to persuade readers of the authentic nature of their stories.

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Projections by Jared Gardner

ISBN: 9780804771467

Publication Date: 2012-01-11

When Art Spiegelman’s Maus won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, it marked a new era for comics. Comics are now taken seriously by the same academic and cultural institutions that long dismissed the form. And the visibility of comics continues to increase, with alternative cartoonists now published by major presses and more comics-based films arriving on the screen each year. Projections argues that the seemingly sudden visibility of comics is no accident. Beginning with the parallel development of narrative comics at the turn of the 20th century, comics have long been a form that invites–indeed requires–readers to help shape the stories being told. Today, with the rise of interactive media, the creative techniques and the reading practices comics have been experimenting with for a century are now in universal demand. Recounting the history of comics from the nineteenth-century rise of sequential comics to the newspaper strip, through comic books and underground comix, to the graphic novel and webcomics, Gardner shows why they offer the best models for rethinking storytelling in the twenty-first century. In the process, he reminds us of some beloved characters from our past and present, including Happy Hooligan, Krazy Kat, Crypt Keeper, and Mr. Natural.

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Graphic Justice by Thomas Giddens (Editor)

ISBN: 9781138787995

Publication Date: 2015-04-10

Establishing the medium of graphic fiction as a critical resource for interdisciplinary legal studies, this collection is the first to address the intersection of comics and law. Graphic fiction has gained enormous cultural capital and academic interest over recent years. Comics-inspired films fill our cinemas and superhero merchandise fills the shelves of supermarkets. In short, our culture is suffused with a comic-book aesthetic: as, for example, the ‘Occupy’ movement appropriates the mask of ‘V’, from the comic work V for Vendetta; and, tragically, as James Holmes’s murderous rampage through a Colorado movie theatre, seemingly sees him styling himself after Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker. From mass entertainment and consumerism to political activism and violence, we are surrounded by emanations of graphic storytelling. Meanwhile, the rise of academic disciplines such as comics studies demonstrates that the medium contains much more depth than the common assumption of its simplicity and juvenility might suggest. Against this background, comics offer an important resource for making sense of the contemporary place and role of law. Whether in their representations of lawyers and the legal system, their dystopian imaginations, their treatment of issues of justice and social order, or in their superheroic investment in the protection of the innocent and the punishment or capture of those who would harm them, like other narrative forms – literature, film, theatre – graphic fiction explores and expresses human life in all its social, moral and legal complexity. In the context of a now well-established interest in cultural legal studies, this book showcases the critical potential of comics and graphic fiction as a resource for interdisciplinary legal studies and legal theory.

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Contemporary Comics Storytelling by Karin Kukkonen

ISBN: 9780803246379

Publication Date: 2013-10-01

What if fairy-tale characters lived in New York City? What if a superhero knew he was a fictional character? What if you could dispense your own justice with one hundred untraceable bullets? These are the questions asked and answered in the course of the challenging storytelling in Fables, Tom Strong, and 100 Bullets, the three twenty-first-century comics series that Karin Kukkonen considers in depth in her exploration of how and why the storytelling in comics is more than merely entertaining. Applying a cognitive approach to reading comics in all their narrative richness and intricacy, Contemporary Comics Storytelling opens an intriguing perspective on how these works engage the legacy of postmodernism–its subversion, self-reflexivity, and moral contingency. Its three case studies trace how contemporary comics tie into deep traditions of visual and verbal storytelling, how they reevaluate their own status as fiction, and how the fictional minds of their characters generate complex ethical thought experiments. At a time when the medium is taken more and more seriously as intricate and compelling literary art, this book lays the groundwork for an analysis of the ways in which comics challenge and engage readers’ minds. It brings together comics studies with narratology and literary criticism and, in so doing, provides a new set of tools for evaluating the graphic novel as an emergent literary form.

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Studying Comics and Graphic Novels by Karin Kukkonen

ISBN: 9781118499924

Publication Date: 2013-09-10

This introduction to studying comics and graphic novels is a structured guide to a popular topic. It deploys new cognitive methods of textual analysis and features activities and exercises throughout. Deploys novel cognitive approaches to analyze the importance of psychological and physical aspects of reader experience Carefully structured to build a sequenced, rounded introduction to the subject Includes study activities, writing exercises, and essay topics throughout Dedicated chapters cover popular sub-genres such as autobiography and literary adaptation

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Graphic Details by Sarah Lightman (Editor)

ISBN: 9780786465538

Publication Date: 2014-08-08

The comics within capture in intimate, often awkward, but always relatable detail the tribulations and triumphs of life. In particular, the lives of 18 Jewish women artists who bare all in their work, which appeared in the internationally acclaimed exhibition Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women. The comics are enhanced by original essays and interviews with the artists that provide further insight into the creation of autobiographical comics that resonate beyond self, beyond gender, and beyond ethnicity.

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How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses? by Tahneer Oksman

ISBN: 9780231540780

Publication Date: 2016-02-02

American comics reflect the distinct sensibilities and experiences of the Jewish American men who played an outsized role in creating them, but what about the contributions of Jewish women? Focusing on the visionary work of seven contemporary female Jewish cartoonists, Tahneer Oksman draws a remarkable connection between innovations in modes of graphic storytelling and the unstable, contradictory, and ambiguous figurations of the Jewish self in the postmodern era. Oksman isolates the dynamic Jewishness that connects each frame in the autobiographical comics of Aline Kominsky Crumb, Vanessa Davis, Miss Lasko-Gross, Lauren Weinstein, Sarah Glidden, Miriam Libicki, and Liana Finck. Rooted in a conception of identity based as much on rebellion as identification and belonging, these artists’ representations of Jewishness take shape in the spaces between how we see ourselves and how others see us. They experiment with different representations and affiliations without forgetting that identity ties the self to others. Stemming from Kominsky Crumb’s iconic 1989 comic “Nose Job,” in which her alter ego refuses to assimilate through cosmetic surgery, Oksman’s study is an arresting exploration of invention in the face of the pressure to disappear.

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The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel by Stephen E. Tabachnick

ISBN: 9780817318215

Publication Date: 2014-06-30

Many Jewish artists and writers contributed to the creation of popular comics and graphic novels, and in The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick takes readers on an engaging tour of graphic novels that explore themes of Jewish identity and belief. The creators of Superman (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Batman (Bob Kane and Bill Finger), and the Marvel superheroes (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), were Jewish, as was the founding editor of Mad magazine (Harvey Kurtzman). They often adapted Jewish folktales (like the Golem) or religious stories (such as the origin of Moses) for their comics, depicting characters wrestling with supernatural people and events. Likewise, some of the most significant graphic novels by Jews or about Jewish subject matter deal with questions of religious belief and Jewish identity. Their characters wrestle with belief#151;or nonbelief#151;in God, as well as with their own relationship to the Jews, the historical role of the Jewish people, the politics of Israel, and other issues related to Jewish identity. In The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick delves into the vivid kaleidoscope of Jewish beliefs and identities, ranging from Orthodox belief to complete atheism, and a spectrum of feelings about identification with other Jews. He explores graphic novels at the highest echelon of the genre by more than thirty artists and writers, among them Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Will Eisner (A Contract with God), Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat), Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), Art Spiegelman (Maus), J. T. Waldman (Megillat Esther), Aline Kominsky Crumb (Need More Love), James Sturm (The Golem’s Mighty Swing), Leela Corman (Unterzakhn), Ari Folman and David Polonsky (Waltz with Bashir), David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb’s biography of Kafka, and many more. He also examines the work of a select few non-Jewish artists, such as Robert Crumb and Basil Wolverton, both of whom have created graphic adaptations of parts of the Hebrew Bible. Among the topics he discusses are graphic novel adaptations of the Bible; the Holocaust graphic novel; graphic novels about the Jews in Eastern and Western Europe and Africa, and the American Jewish immigrant experience; graphic novels about the lives of Jewish women; the Israel-centered graphic novel; and the Orthodox graphic novel. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography. No study of Jewish literature and art today can be complete without a survey of the graphic novel, and scholars, students, and graphic novel fans alike will delight in Tabachnick’s guide to this world of thought, sensibility, and artfulness.

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Drawing from Life by Jane Tolmie (Editor)

ISBN: 9781617039058

Publication Date: 2013-11-01

Autobiography has seen enormous expansions and challenges over the past decades. One of these expansions has been in comics, and it is an expansion that pushes back against any postmodern notion of the death of the author/subject, while also demanding new approaches from critics. Drawing from Life: Memory and Subjectivity in Comic Art is a collection of essays about autobiography, semiautobiography, fictionalized autobiography, memory, and self-narration in sequential art, or comics. Contributors come from a range of academic backgrounds including English, American studies, comparative literature, gender studies, art history, and cultural studies. The book engages with well-known figures such as Art Spiegelman, Marjane Satrapi, and Alison Bechdel; with cult-status figures such as Martin Vaughn-James; and with lesser-known works by artists such as FrĂŠdĂŠric Boilet. Negotiations between artist/writer/body and drawn/written/text raise questions of how comics construct identity, and are read and perceived, requiring a critical turn towards theorizing the comics’ viewer. At stake in comic memoir and semi-autobiography is embodiment. Remembering a scene with the intent of rendering it in sequential art requires nonlinear thinking and engagement with physicality. Who was in the room and where? What was worn? Who spoke first? What images dominated the encounter? Did anybody smile? Man or mouse? Unhinged from the summary paragraph, the comics artist must confront the fact of the flesh, or the corporeal world, and they do so with fascinating results.

Understanding Comics

This list links to the University of Toronto Library Catalogue. Title summaries can be found below this list:

Alternative Comics

Comics: a global history, 1968 to the present

Comics As a Nexus of Cultures

Graphic Novels: Everything you need to know

Reinventing Comics

Understanding Comics

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Alternative Comics by Charles Hatfield

ISBN: 9781578067190

Publication Date: 2005-08-03

In the 1980s, a sea change occurred in comics. Fueled by Art Spiegel- man and Françoise Mouly’s avant-garde anthology Raw and the launch of the Love & Rockets series by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez, the decade saw a deluge of comics that were more autobiographical, emotionally realistic, and experimental than anything seen before. These alternative comics were not the scatological satires of the 1960s underground, nor were they brightly colored newspaper strips or superhero comic books. In Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature, Charles Hatfield establishes the parameters of alternative comics by closely examining long-form comics, in particular the graphic novel. He argues that these are fundamentally a literary form and offers an extensive critical study of them both as a literary genre and as a cultural phenomenon. Combining sharp-eyed readings and illustrations from particular texts with a larger understanding of the comics as an art form, this book discusses the development of specific genres, such as autobiography and history. Alternative Comics analyzes such seminal works as Spiegelman’s Maus, Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories, and Justin Green’s Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary. Hatfield explores how issues outside of cartooning-the marketplace, production demands, work schedules-can affect the final work. Using Hernandez’s Palomar as an example, he shows how serialization may determine the way a cartoonist structures a narrative. In a close look at Maus, Binky Brown, and Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, Hatfield teases out the complications of creating biography and autobiography in a substantially visual medium, and shows how creators approach these issues in radically different ways. Charles Hatfield, Canyon Country, California, is an assistant professor of English at California State University, Northridge. His work has been published in ImageTexT, Inks: Cartoon and Comic Art Studies, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, the Comics Journal, and other periodicals. See the author’s Web site at http://www.csun.edu/~ch76854/.

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Comics by Dan Mazur; Alexander Danner

ISBN: 9780500290965

Publication Date: 2014-06-17

Comics, manga, bandes dessinées, fumetti, tebeo, historietas… no matter the name, they have been a powerful medium across four continents for decades. This is the history of comics around the world from the late 1960s to the dawn of the 21st century. Comics is a richly illustrated narrative of extraordinary scope. Examples from all over the world include everything from Crumb and Kirby to RAW; from Metal Hurlant to Marjane Satrapi to nouvelle manga; from both the American mainstream and underground to the evolving and influential British scene. The images here are bright and colorful, dark and brooding, arresting and pleasant, all at the same time. An unprecedented collection includes around 260 expertly chosen illustrations, many reproduced in full-page format for more sophisticated analysis. The authors, two uniquely positioned and knowledgeable authorities, are the first to write a broadly comprehensive history of this most accessible, democratic, and occasionally subversive modern popular art form, displaying an intimate familiarity with schools and styles, writers, artists, and companies across countries and generations. In showing us both post-apocalyptic dreamscapes and portraits of the everyday, Comics looks at this thirty-plus year period through a very unique lens.

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Comics As a Nexus of Cultures by Mark Berninger; Jochen Ecke (Editor); Gideon Haberkorn (Editor); Donald E. Palumbo (Editor); C. W. Sullivan III (Editor)

ISBN: 9780786439874

Publication Date: 2010-04-06

These essays from various critical disciplines examine how comic books and graphic narratives move between various media, while merging youth and adult cultures and popular and high art. The articles feature international perspectives on comics and graphic novels published in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Portugal, Germany, Turkey, India, and Japan. Topics range from film adaptation, to journalism in comics, to the current manga boom.

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Graphic Novels by Paul Gravett

ISBN: 9780060824259

Publication Date: 2005-11-01

Graphic novels, long stories told in comics format, have enjoyed the fastest-growing sales of any category of book in the U.S. over the last four years. This modern renaissance of comics has produced a library of substantial works, whose subjects are not confined to superheroes or fantasy but are as varied and sophisticated as the best films and literature. Graphic Novels presents an accessible, entertaining, and highly illustrated guide to the diversity of contemporary comics in book form. Featuring striking graphics and explanatory extracts from a wide range of graphic novels, the book examines the specific language of the comics medium; the history and pioneers of the form; recent masterpieces from Art Spiegelman’s Maus to Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan; the impact of Japanese manga and European albums translated into English; how artists have overcome prejudices towards the genre; and the ambitious range of themes and issues artists are addressing, including childhood, war and survival, politics, the future, sexuality, and the supernatural.

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Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud

ISBN: 9780060953508

Publication Date: 2000-07-25

In 1993, Scott McCloud tore down the wall between high and low culture with the acclaimed international hit Understanding Comics, a massive comic book that explored the inner workings of the worlds most misunderstood art form. Now, McCloud takes comics to te next leavle, charting twelve different revolutions in how comics are created, read, and preceived today, and how they’re poised to conquer the new millennium. Part One of this fascinating and in-depth book includes: The life of comics as an art form and as literture The battle for creators’ rights Reinventing the business of comics The volatile and shifting public percptions of comics Sexual and ethnic representation on comics Then in Part Two, McCloud paints a brethtaling picture of comics’ digital revolutions, including: The intricacies of digital production The exploding world of online delivery The ultimate challenges of the infinite digital canvas

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Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

ISBN: 9780060976255

Publication Date: 1994-04-27

Praised throughout the cartoon industry by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening, and Will Eisner, this innovative comic book provides a detailed look at the history, meaning, and art of comics and cartooning.

Graphic Autobiographies by Women

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Below are links to a selection of graphic autobiographies written by women that you will find at the University of Toronto Libraries:

Abouet, M., Oubrerie, C., & Dascher, D. (2008). Aya: Of Yop City. MontrĂŠal: Drawn & Quarterly.

Barry, L. (2002). One hundred demons. Berkeley, Calif.: Distributed by Publishers Group West.

Barry, L., & Kawula, K. (2010). Picture this. MontrĂŠal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly.

Barry, L. (2008). What it is. MontrĂŠal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly.

Bechdel, A. (2006). Fun home: A family tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Bell, G. (2006). Lucky. MontrĂŠal: Drawn & Quarterly Books.

Bell, G., Seitchik, D., & Kaczynski, T. (2012). The voyeurs. Minneapolis, Minn: Uncivilized Books.

Chast, R. (2014). Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?.

Doucet, J. (2006). My most secret desire. Montreal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly.

Fitzgerald, Meags. (2015). Long Red Hair. Wolfville, Nova Scotia: Conundrum Press, 2015.

Gloeckner, P., & Crumb, R. (2000). A child’s life and other stories.

Gloeckner, P. (2015).  The diary of a teenage girl: an account in words and pictures. Berkley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Kominsky-Crumb, A. (2007). Need more love. London: MQ.

Knisley, L. (2008). Radiator days. Place of publication not identified: Lucy Knisley.

Obomsawin, D. (2014). On loving women. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly.           

Pond, M. (2014). Over easy. 

Prince, L. (2008). Delayed replays. New York: Top Shelf.

Rancourt, S. (2015). Melody. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly

Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis.

Tyler, C. (2015). Soldier’s heart: the campaign to understand my WWll veteran father: a daughter’s memoir. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books.

Anothology:

Newlevant, H., & Ostertag, M. (2015). Chainmail bikini: The anthology of women gamers.      

Graphic Autobiographies by Men

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Below are links to a selection of graphic autobiographies written by men that you will find at the University of Toronto Libraries:

Backderf, D. (2012). My friend Dahmer: a graphic novel. New York: Abrams Comic Arts.

Brown, C. (2007). I never liked you: A comic-strip narrative. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly.

Brown, C. (2011). Paying for it. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly.

Brown, C. (2006). The little man: Short strips, 1980-1995. MontrĂŠal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly.

Brown, C. (2013). The playboy: a comic-strip memoir. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly.

Brown, J. (2006). Clumsy: A novel. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions.

Brown, J. (2009). Funny misshapen body. New York: Touchstone.

Crumb, R. (2013). The Weirdo years: 1981-’93.

Link to documentary about R. Crumb available digitally: http://go.utlib.ca/cat/9766819

Delisle, G., & Dascher, H. (2013). A user’s guide to neglectful parenting.

Haspiel, D. (2015). Beef with tomato.

Hornschemeier, P. (2007). The three paradoxes. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics.

Kochalka, J. (2004). American Elf: The collected sketchbook diaries of James Kochalka. Marietta, Georgia: Top Shelf Productions.

Matt, J. (2002). Fair weather. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly.

Matt, J. (2003). Peepshow: The cartoon diary of Joe Matt. MontrĂŠal: Drawn and Quarterly.

Nakazawa, K. (1990). Barefoot Gen: The day after : a cartoon story of Hiroshima. Penguin.

Nilsen, A., & In Thompson, K. (2013). The end.

Pekar, H., Brown, K., & Budgett, G. (2003). American splendor: The life and times of Harvey Pekar : stories. New York: Ballantine Books.

American Splendor: electronic resource

Seth. (1996). It’s a good life, if you don’t weaken: [a picture-novella. Montreal, Quebec: Drawn & Quarterly Publications.

Spiegelman, A. (2003). Maus: A survivor’s tale. London: Penguin.

Spiegelman, A. (2011). MetaMaus. New York: Pantheon Books

Tomine, A. (1995). Optic nerve. Montreal, Que: Drawn & Quarterly Publications.

Thompson, C. (2015). Blankets: A graphic novel.

Bibliographies: Additional Reading Lists by Popular Themes in Graphic Autobiography

Graphic Autobiographies on Childhood and Adolescence

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Below are links to a selection of graphic autobiographies written about childhood that you will find at the University of Toronto:

Backderf, D. (2012). My friend Dahmer: a graphic novel. New York: Abrams Comic Arts.

Barry, L. (2002). One hundred demons. Berkeley, Calif.: Distributed by Publishers Group West.

Bechdel, A. (2006). Fun home: A family tragicomic. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Bell, C., Lasky, D., & Amulet Books,. (2014). El Deafo.

Brown, C. (2007). I never liked you: A comic-strip narrative. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly.

Brown, C. (1992). The playboy: A comic book. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly.

Brown, J. (2003). Unlikely: A true love story. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions.

Gloeckner, P., & Crumb, R. (2000). A child’s life and other stories.

Gloeckner, P. (2015).  The diary of a teenage girl: an account in words and pictures. Berkley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Gownley, J. (2014). The dumbest idea ever.  New York: Graphix.

Nakazawa, K. (1990). Barefoot Gen: The day after : a cartoon story of Hiroshima. Penguin.

Prince, L. (2014). Tomboy: a graphic memoir. California: Zest Books.

Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis.

Small, D. (2009). Stitches: A memoir. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Thompson, C. (2015). Blankets: A graphic novel.

Not yet in U of T catalogue:

Thrash, M. (2015). Honor girl: a graphic memoir.

Tolstikova, D. (2015). A Year Without Mom. Groundwood Books.

Graphic Life Narratives For Young Adults

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Below are links to a selection of YA graphic life narratives that you will find at the University of Toronto:

Bell, C., Lasky, D., & Amulet Books,. (2014). El Deafo.

Brown, C. (2007). I never liked you: A comic-strip narrative. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly.

Prince, L. (2014). Tomboy: a graphic memoir. California: Zest Books.

Tamaki, M., Tamaki, J. (2008). Skim. Toronto: Groundwood Books.

Tamaki, M., Tamaki, J. (2014). This One Summer. Toronto: Groundwood Books.

Graphic Autobiographies on Physical and Mental Illness, Including Trauma and Grief

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Below are links to a selection of graphic autobiographies about physical and mental illness that you will find at the University of Toronto Libraries, alphabetical by author’s last name.

Note: see “websites” page for links to blogs, tumblrs, and websites on comics and mental and physical health.

B, D. (2006). Epileptic. New York: Pantheon Books.

Barry, L. (2002). One hundred demons. Berkeley, Calif.: Distributed by Publishers Group West. (Trauma; sexual abuse)

Bell, C., Lasky, D., & Amulet Books,. (2014). El Deafo. (Hearing impairment)

Brabner, J., Pekar, H., & Stack, F. (1994). Our cancer year. Philadelphia, PA: Running Press.

Cunningham, D. (2011). Psychiatric tales: Eleven graphic stories about mental illness. New York: Bloomsbury.

Davidson, A. (2003). The Spiral Cage: diary of an astral gypsy. Los Angeles: CA. (Severe spina bifida)

Dunlap-Shohl, P. (2015). My degeneration: a journey through Parkinson’s. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Engelberg, M. (2006). Cancer made me a shallower person: A memoir in comics. New York: Harper.

Farmer, J. (2014). Special exits: A graphic memoir. (Aging; adult children with older parents; family relationships)

Fies, B. (2008). Mom’s cancer.

Forney, Ellen. (2012). Marbles: mania, depression, Michelangelo, and me: a graphic memoir. New York: Gothem Books.

Freedman, M. (2014). Relatively indolent but relentless: a cancer treatment journal. New york: Seven Stories Press.

Green, K. (2013). Lighter than my shadow. (Eating disorders)

Hart, T. Lightning, R., & Corman, L. (2016). Rosalie Lightning. New York: St. Martin’s Press. (Grieving)

Hayden, J. (2015). The story of my tits. (Breast neoplasms; breast cancer; mastectomy)

Leavitt, S. (2010). Tangles: A story about Alzheimer’s, my mother, and me. Calgary: Freehand Books.

Nakazawa, K. (1990). Barefoot Gen: The day after : a cartoon story of Hiroshima. Penguin.

Nilsen, A. (2012). Don’t go where I can’t follow. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly. (Partner’s battle with cancer)

Porcellino, J. (2014). The hospital suite. (Anxiety; illness)

Potts, P. (2010). Good eggs: a memoir. New York, NY: Harper. (Infertility; pregnancy)

Marchetto, M. A. (2006). Cancer vixen: a true story. New York: Pantheon Books

Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis. (Depression; trauma)

Small, D. (2009). Stitches: A memoir. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. (Trauma; abuse; anxiety; depression)

Streeten, N. (2011). Billy, me, & you: a memoir of grief and recovery. Brighten, England: Myriad Editions.

Tristram, M. (2014). Probably nothing: a diary of not-your-average nine months. London: Viking. (Cancer and pregnancy)

Will, E.M. (2013). Look straight ahead: a graphic novel. Saskatchewan: Cuckoo’s Nest Press. (Anxiety; depression; mental health)

(2013)The Storyteller’s eye: Comics about illness & caregiving, science & medicine, by students in the biomedical communications graduate program, University of Toronto.  Compiled by Shelley L. Wall. Toronto: BMC.

Woollcott, T. (2009). Mirror mind. Toronto, Ont: T. Woollcott. (Dyslexia)

Graphic Travel Autobiographies/ Journalism/ Travelogue/ Ethnographic Diaries

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Delisle, G., & Dascher, H. (2012). Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City. MontrĂŠal: Drawn & Quarterly.

Delisle, G., & Dascher, H. (2007). Pyongyang: A journey in North Korea.

Knisley, L. (2014). An age of license.

Knisley, L. (2008). French milk.

Neufeld, J. (2009). A.D.: New Orleans after the deluge. New York: Pantheon Books.

Sacco, J. (2009). Footnotes in Gaza. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Sacco, J. (2005). Palestine. Seattle, Wash: Fantagraphics.

Other Themes in Graphic Autobiography

All books listed below are available through the University of Toronto Library Catalogue.

Feminism

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The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner

ISBN: 9781623170349

Publication Date: 2015-07-21

First released in 2002, this provocative, critically acclaimed novel is now a major motion picture starring Bel Powley, Kristen Wiig, and Alexander SkarsgĂĽrd.   “I don’t remember being born. I was a very ugly child. My appearance has not improved so I guess it was a lucky break when he was attracted by my youthfulness.” So begins the wrenching diary of Minnie Goetze, a fifteen-year-old girl longing for love and acceptance and struggling with her own precocious sexuality. After losing her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend, Minnie pursues a string of sexual encounters (with both boys and girls) while experimenting with drugs and developing her talents as an artist. Unsupervised and unguided by her aloof and narcissistic mother, Minnie plunges into a defenseless, yet fearless adolescence.   While set in the libertine atmosphere of 1970s San Francisco, Minnie’s journey to understand herself and her world is universal: this is the story of a young woman troubled by the discontinuity between what she thinks and feels and what she observes in those around her. Acclaimed cartoonist and author Phoebe Gloeckner serves up a deft blend of visual and verbal narrative in her complex presentation of a pivotal year in a girl’s life, recounted in diary pages and illustrations, with full narrative sequences in comics form. The Diary of a Teenage Girl offers a searing comment on adult society as seen though the eyes of a young woman on the verge of joining it.   This edition has been updated by the author with an introduction reflecting on the book’s critical reception and value as diary or novel, historical document or work of art. Also included in this revised edition are supplementary photographs and illustrations from the author’s childhood, including some of her own diary entries. “Phoebe Gloeckner… is creating some of the edgiest work about young women’s lives in any medium.”–The New York Times   “One of the most brutally honest, shocking, tender and beautiful portrayals of growing up female in America.”–Salon   “It’s the most honest depiction of sexuality in a long, long time; as a meditation on adolescence, it picks up a literary ball that’s been only fitfully carried after Salinger.”–Nerve.com

Childhood Narratives and Nostalgia

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ISBN: 9781894994958

Sexuality, Queerness, Gender, and Identity

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On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin; Helge Dascher (Translator)

ISBN: 9781770461406

Publication Date: 2014-02-18

“On Loving Women is in turns wistful, sexy, goofy, bittersweet, frank, and adorable. Diane Obomsawin’s deceptively simple lifework and straightforward writing style capture the breathless sweetness of holding another girl’s hand for the first time, and the happy, lusty intimacy of a virginity-ending, drunken threesome. Delightful.”–Ellen Forney, author ofMarbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me Intimate vignettes of women coming out On Loving Womenis a new collection of stories about coming out, first love, and sexual identity by the animator Diane Obomsawin. With this work, Obomsawin brings her gaze to bear on subjects closer to home–her friends’ and lovers’ personal accounts of realizing they’re gay or first finding love with another woman. Each story is a master class in reaching the emotional truth of a situation with the simplest means possible. Her stripped-down pages use the bare minimum of linework to expressively reveal heartbreak, joy, irritation, and fear. On Loving Women focuses primarily on adolescence–crushes on high school teachers, awkwardness on first dates–but also addresses much deeper-seated difficulties of being out: fears of rejection and of not being who others want one to be. Within these pages, Obomsawin has forged a poignant, powerful narrative that speaks to the difficulties of coming out and the joys of being loved. Her first English-language work,Kaspar–a retelling of the life of Kaspar Hauser, the mysterious German youth who was raised in isolation and murdered just a few years after emerging from his imprisonment–was critically lauded for its simple but expressive storytelling, and for the way it portrayed traumatic material compassionately but without self-indulgence.

 Diary Narratives

Link to U of T catalogue for resources on diary narratives and life writing:

Diary narratives

Bunkers, S. L., & Huff, C. A. (1996). Inscribing the daily: Critical essays on women’s diaries. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Johnson, A. (1997). The hidden writer: Diaries and the creative life. New York: Doubleday

Kagle, S. E. (1979). American diary literature, 1620-1799. Boston: Twayne Publishers.

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The Hidden Writer by Alexandra Johnson

ISBN: 0385478291

Publication Date: 1997-04-14

In October, 1928 Virginia Woolf sat at her trestle writing table, a notebook open before her, and wrote, “Whom do I tell when I tell a blank page? ” It’s a question that generations of readers and writers searching to map a creative life have also asked of their own diaries. No other document quite compares with the intimacies and yearnings, the confessions and desires as those revealed in the pages of a diary.The Hidden Writeris the first book to focus on how each generation of writers has used the diary to independently solve a common set of creative and life questions. Organized chronologically, the book traces the creative arc of seven writers from age seven to seventy, showing how the diary, as catalyst, helped shape the work and life. Presenting seven portraits of literary and creative lives, Alexandra Johnson illuminates the secret world of writers and their diaries. A time-lapse study of confidence,The Hidden Writershows how seven very different writers all used the diary to negotiate the obstacle course of silence and ambition, envy, voice and fame. Sofia Tolstoy’s diary describes the conflict between love and vocation; in Katherine Mansfield’s and Virginia Woolf’s friendship and writings, the nettle of rivalry among equals is pursued, and in Alice James’ diary, started at age 40, the feelings of competition within a creative family are elaborated. Winner of the PEN /Jerard Fund Award Special Citation for a non-fiction work in progress,The Hidden Writeris essential for anyone interested in the connection between diaries and creative life. “

Postcolonialism, and Critical Race Studies

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Black Comix by John Jennings; Keith Knight (Introduction by); Damian Duffy

ISBN: 9780984190652

Publication Date: 2010-07-27

The immense popularity of comics and graphic novels cannot be ignored. But in light of the comics boom that has taken place over the past 10 years, the artists, writers and publishers that make up the vibrant African American independent comics community have remained relatively unknown -nbsp;until now. Black Comix brings together an unprecedented collection of largely unheard of, and undeniably masterful, comics art while also framing the work of these men and women in a broader historical and cultural context. With a foreword by Keith Knight and over 50 contributors, including Phonzie Davis, Jan-Michael Franklin, Frances Liddell, Kenjji Marshall, Lance Tooks, Rob Stull, Ashley A. Woods and many, more, the cross section of comics genres represented includes manga, superheroes, humor, history, science fiction and fantasy. This book is a must-have for comics readers.

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Multicultural Comics by Frederick Luis Aldama (Editor); Derek Parker Royal (Foreword by)

ISBN: 9780292722811

Publication Date: 2010-09-15

Multicultural Comics: From Zap to Blue Beetle is the first comprehensive look at comic books by and about race and ethnicity. The thirteen essays tease out for the general reader the nuances of how such multicultural comics skillfully combine visual and verbal elements to tell richly compelling stories that gravitate around issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality within and outside the U.S. comic book industry. Among the explorations of mainstream and independent comic books are discussions of the work of Adrian Tomine, Grant Morrison, and Jessica Abel as well as Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan’s The Tomb of Dracula; Native American Anishinaabe-related comics; mixed-media forms such as Kerry James Marshall’s comic-book/community performance; DJ Spooky’s visual remix of classic film; the role of comics in India; and race in the early Underground Comix movement. The collection includes a “one-stop shop” for multicultural comic book resources, such as archives, websites, and scholarly books. Each of the essays shows in a systematic, clear, and precise way how multicultural comic books work in and of themselves and also how they are interconnected with a worldwide tradition of comic-book storytelling.

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Postcolonial Comics by Binita Mehta (Editor); Pia Mukherji (Editor)

ISBN: 9780415738132

Publication Date: 2015-05-20

This collection examines new comic-book cultures, graphic writing, and bande dessinĂŠe texts as they relate to postcolonialism in contemporary Anglophone and Francophone settings. The individual chapters are framed within a larger enquiry that considers definitive aspects of the postcolonial condition in twenty-first-century (con)texts. The authors demonstrate that the fields of comic-book production and circulation in various regional histories introduce new postcolonial vocabularies, reconstitute conventional “image-functions” in established social texts and political systems, and present competing narratives of resistance and rights. In this sense, postcolonial comic cultures are of particular significance in the context of a newly global and politically recomposed landscape. This volume introduces a timely intervention within current comic-book-area studies that remain firmly situated within the “U.S.-European and Japanese manga paradigms” and their reading publics. It will be of great interest to a wide variety of disciplines including postcolonial studies, comics-area studies, cultural studies, and gender studies.

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Drawing New Color Lines by Monica Chiu

ISBN: 9789888139385

Publication Date: 2015-03-31

The global circulation of comics, manga, and other such visual mediums between North America and Asia produces transnational meanings no longer rooted in a separation between “Asian” and “American.” Drawing New Color Lines explores the culture, production, and history of contemporary graphic narratives that depict Asian Americans and Asians. It examines how Japanese manga and Asian popular culture have influenced Asian American comics; how these comics and Asian American graphic narratives depict the “look” of race; and how these various representations are interpreted in nations not of their production. By focusing on what graphic narratives mean for audiences in North America and those in Asia, the collection discusses how Western theories about the ways in which graphic narratives might successfully overturn derogatory caricatures are themselves based on contested assumptions; and illustrates that the so-called odorless images featured in Japanese manga might nevertheless elicit interpretations about race in transnational contexts. With contributions from experts based in North America and Asia, Drawing New Color Lines will be of interest to scholars in a variety of disciplines, including Asian American studies, cultural and literary studies, comics and visual studies.

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Black Women in Sequence by Deborah Elizabeth Whaley

ISBN: 9780295994963

Publication Date: 2015-11-01

Black Women in Sequence takes readers on a search for women of African descent in comics subculture. From the 1971 appearance of the Skywald Publications character “the Butterfly” – the first Black female superheroine in a comic book – to contemporary comic books, graphic novels, film, manga, and video gaming, a growing number of Black women are becoming producers, viewers, and subjects of sequential art. As the first detailed investigation of Black women’s participation in comic art, Black Women in Sequence examines the representation, production, and transnational circulation of women of African descent in the sequential art world. In this groundbreaking study, which includes interviews with artists and writers, Deborah Whaley suggests that the treatment of the Black female subject in sequential art says much about the place of people of African descent in national ideology in the United States and abroad. For more information visit the author’s website: http://www.deborahelizabethwhaley.com/#!black-women-in-sequence/c65q

Religious and Ethnic Identities

The exploration of religion and ethnicity in relation to identity is an important trend within the graphic life narrative.

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The Complete MAUS by Art Spiegelman

ISBN: 0141014083

Publication Date: 2003-10-02

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman – the Pulitzer prize-winning Holocaust survivor story ‘The most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust’ Wall Street Journal ‘The first masterpiece in comic book history’ The New Yorker The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. Maus approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in ‘drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust’ (The New York Times). Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us. This combined, definitive edition includes Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale and Maus II. Art Spiegelman is a contributing editor and artist for the New Yorker. His drawings and prints have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Maus, and a Guggenheim fellowship. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Award. His other books include: Breakdowns: From Maus to Now, an Anthology of Strips; The Wild Party; Open Me, I’m A Dog; Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits; In the Shadow of No Towers; Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*!; Be a Nose; Jack and the Box and MetaMaus. He lives in New York.

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Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

ISBN: 9780375714573

Publication Date: 2004-06-01

A New York Times Notable Book A Time Magazine “Best Comix of the Year” A San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times Best-seller Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

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The Jewish Graphic Novel by Samantha Baskind (Contribution by, Editor); Miriam Libicki (Contribution by); Cheryl Malcolm (Contribution by); Erin McGlothlin (Contribution by); Lisa Mulman (Contribution by); Brad Praeger (Contribution by); Alon Raab (Contribution by); Laurence Roth (Contribution by); J. Waldman (Foreword by); Ranen Omer-Sherman (Contribution by, Editor); Jeremy Dauber (Contribution by); Paul Eisenstein (Contribution by); Roxanne Harde (Contribution by); Marla Harris (Contribution by); Miriam Harris (Contribution by); Ariel Kahn (Contribution by); Josh Lambert (Contribution by)

ISBN: 9780813543673

Publication Date: 2008-10-29

In the 1970s and 1980s Jewish cartoonists such as Will Eisner were some of the first artists to use the graphic novel as a way to explore their ethnicity. Although similar to their pop culture counterpart, the comic book, graphic novels presented weightier subject matter in more expensive packaging, which appealed to an adult audience and gained them credibility as a genre. The Jewish Graphic Novel is a lively, interdisciplinary collection of essays that addresses critically acclaimed works in this subgenre of Jewish literary and artistic culture. Featuring insightful discussions of notable figures in the industryĂšsuch as Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, and Joann SfarĂšthe essays focus on the how graphic novels are increasingly being used in Holocaust memoir and fiction, and to portray Jewish identity in America and abroad Featuring more than 85 illustrations, this collection is a compelling representation of a major postmodern ethnic and artistic achievement.

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The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel by Stephen E. Tabachnick

ISBN: 9780817318215

Publication Date: 2014-06-30

Many Jewish artists and writers contributed to the creation of popular comics and graphic novels, and in The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick takes readers on an engaging tour of graphic novels that explore themes of Jewish identity and belief. The creators of Superman (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Batman (Bob Kane and Bill Finger), and the Marvel superheroes (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), were Jewish, as was the founding editor of Mad magazine (Harvey Kurtzman). They often adapted Jewish folktales (like the Golem) or religious stories (such as the origin of Moses) for their comics, depicting characters wrestling with supernatural people and events. Likewise, some of the most significant graphic novels by Jews or about Jewish subject matter deal with questions of religious belief and Jewish identity. Their characters wrestle with belief#151;or nonbelief#151;in God, as well as with their own relationship to the Jews, the historical role of the Jewish people, the politics of Israel, and other issues related to Jewish identity. In The Quest for Jewish Belief and Identity in the Graphic Novel, Stephen E. Tabachnick delves into the vivid kaleidoscope of Jewish beliefs and identities, ranging from Orthodox belief to complete atheism, and a spectrum of feelings about identification with other Jews. He explores graphic novels at the highest echelon of the genre by more than thirty artists and writers, among them Harvey Pekar (American Splendor), Will Eisner (A Contract with God), Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat), Miriam Katin (We Are On Our Own), Art Spiegelman (Maus), J. T. Waldman (Megillat Esther), Aline Kominsky Crumb (Need More Love), James Sturm (The Golem’s Mighty Swing), Leela Corman (Unterzakhn), Ari Folman and David Polonsky (Waltz with Bashir), David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb’s biography of Kafka, and many more. He also examines the work of a select few non-Jewish artists, such as Robert Crumb and Basil Wolverton, both of whom have created graphic adaptations of parts of the Hebrew Bible. Among the topics he discusses are graphic novel adaptations of the Bible; the Holocaust graphic novel; graphic novels about the Jews in Eastern and Western Europe and Africa, and the American Jewish immigrant experience; graphic novels about the lives of Jewish women; the Israel-centered graphic novel; and the Orthodox graphic novel. The book concludes with an extensive bibliography. No study of Jewish literature and art today can be complete without a survey of the graphic novel, and scholars, students, and graphic novel fans alike will delight in Tabachnick’s guide to this world of thought, sensibility, and artfulness.

More themes:

Witnessing and Memory

Mental and Physical Health

Ethics and Privacy Issues

Zines and Women’s Graphic Autobiographies

The following is adapted from my first blog post on women’s autobiographical writing:

Women’s graphic life narratives are also rooted in zine culture and self-publication, and zines have their origins in print activism, politically motivated leaflets and pamphlets that were self-published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and later the Suffragette printing press (1900 Golding press, pamphlets).  Zines also have roots in “fanzines” which have been around hundreds of years, for example science fiction fan zines in the 1930’s, and also Dada and avant garde art pamphlets, and beat poet chapbooks. Zines now especially seem to draw from the DIY aesthetics of the feminist punk movement (such as Riot grrrl in the 1990’s) which started in Washington, and spread to the greater Pacific Northwest, including bands like Bakini Kill headed by Kathleen Hanna—and the list goes on (Bartel, 2004, p. 5-9). Zines are a subversive genre because they are uncensored, and often not reviewed, unlike mainstream publications. The content of zines, especially perzines with personal narratives, or political zines, can be subversive and potentially offend some readers, but as zine librarian Julie Bartel suggests, they absolutely accord with the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, in the policy that states, “books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment for all people of the community the library serves”; and also in the statement, “libraries should provide materials and information providing all points of view on current and historical issues” (Bartel, 2004, p. 27). As a genre, zines also provoke participation; as Julie Bartel suggests, creating a zine “implies a longing for that ‘I’m not the only one’ moment where people connect and realize they share some of the same experiences and emotions” (2004, p. 20). Many zinesters are also believers in DIY lifestyle practices, including making and teachingothers how to make (Bartel, 2004, p. 21). Comics share in this reader/writer comeraderie.

Graphic autobiographies, like zines, also build diverse communities of readerships and makers, however they do so through publication and mainstream distribution. Lynda Barry privileges the reader/writer camaraderie through incorporating DIY tutorials into her now mainstream comics. In her autobiographical comics, Barry includes colouring templates, craft-making instructions, art supply tips, and even paper dolls, compelling readers to participate in the form, create, play, and produce their own narratives; at the end of her book What It Is, Barry offers the reader painting tips, and even shares where she purchases her art supplies (2008). In their very nature, graphic autobiographies and comics rely on a collaborative process between reader and writer. As comic theorist Scott McCloud points out, comics are “a medium where the audience is a willing and conscious collaborator and closure is the agent of change, time, and motion” (Understanding Comics 65); the reader must participate in creating meaning from complex layered narration.

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Bartel, J. (2004). From A to zine: Building a winning zine collection in your library. Chicago: American Library Association.

From A to Zine: Building a Winning Zine Collection in Your Library by Julie Bartel is an excellent guide for public librarians on the history or zines and advice for building and justifying a collection. This book also includes other useful resources such as: a list of review zines, online printing resources, contact information for a wide variety of zine publications, e-zines, blogs about zines, chat lists, distros (distributors), zine fairs, existing zine libraries, and stores that carry zines. However, this book focuses on the United States.

Toronto Zine and Autobiographical Comic Resources

Comic and Zine Festivals

Both events below are free!

TCAF, The Toronto Comic Arts Festival:

“TCAF is The Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is a week long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, which culminates in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. Other Festival events include readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and much more. Since 2009, TCAF has been held at Toronto Reference Library in Toronto, Canada, and presented by Toronto Public Library.”

Link to TCAF website for more information on festival

Canzine, Festival of Zines and Underground Culture:

2015: “Canada’s largest festival of zines and underground culture comes to the Art Gallery of Ontario this fall. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, Canzine is the place to check out zines and small press works from over 200 vendors.”

Link to Art Gallery of Ontario website for more information about the 2015 Canzine festival

Link to Broken Pencil Magaizne website for more information about the 2017 Canzine festival

Special Collections Outside of the University of Toronto

OCAD U Zine Library

“The OCAD U Zine Library is an ever-growing collection of self-published and handmade objects located in the Learning Zone at OCAD University. The collection was created to inspire, educate and entertain, to encourage collaboration between OCAD U students and to open up the world of zines for readers and creators everywhere!”

Note: The OCAD Zine Library is located in the OCAD Learning Zone building at 100 McCaul Street, Toronto, ON. 

“Members of the public are welcome to visit the zine library any time the Learning Zone is open. Please refer to the Learning Zone hours before your visit. The Learning Zone is a secured space, requiring card swipe access. Members of the public may simply knock on the door and indicate to the staff that they would like to view the zine collection to gain access.”

Their zines are now available to the public online through Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons: Link

Link to Dorothy H. Hoover Library website for more information about the Zine Library and Learning Zone 

Links to other zine resources, taken from the OCAD Zine Library Website:

Toronto Zine Library

“The Toronto Zine Library is run by a collective of zine readers, zine makers and librarians who are looking to make zines more accessible in Toronto. The Toronto Zine Library can be found on the second floor of the Tranzac Club, 292 Brunswick Avenue.”

Arrow Archive

“Arrow Archive originally opened in The Steel City (Hamilton, Ontario) as The Hamilton Zine Library. HZL opened in fall 2007 at the Sky Dragon Center based on a small personal collection. The HZL made a reluctant but needed move in fall 2010. The Arrow Archive now lives and thrives in Guelph, Ontario. The Arrow has now grown to over 900 titles and is still growing.”

Anchor Archive Zine Library

“Located in Halifax, the Anchor Archive Zine Library has a collection over over 4000 zines that can be browsed and borrowed.”

Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP)

 “The Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) is an online archive which works to preserve queer zines and make them available to other queers, researchers, historians, punks, and anyone else who has an interest DIY publishing and underground queer communities.”

Graphic Autobiographies: Adaptations and Documentaries

Film Adaptation of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor (1994)

Film Adaptation of American Splendor directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (2003)

This film features Harvey Pekar as himself, as well as Paul Giamatti playing Harvey Pekar (and Paul Giamatti as himself).

Documentary on R. Crumb by Terry Zwiigoff (1994)

Documentary on Crumb by Terry Zwigoff

Documentary on Art Spiegleman’s Maus

YouTube: BBC documentary in which cartoonist Art Spiegelman and his partner Françoise Mouly go back to Poland to continue the inquiries into the Holocaust first presented in his book MAUS.

Film Adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2007)

Film Adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis

Websites of Interest

Comics in General

The Grand Comics Database Project: http://www.comics.org/

  • A volunteer run and searchable database of comics, great for primary material, and for historical information regarding comics.

Comics Research: http://www.comicsresearch.org/

  • Includes an annotated bibliography for various aspects of comics research, and is regularly updated.

Links to webcomics, tumblrs, zines, and blogs with graphic autobiographical work on mental and physical illness

Jason Bradshaw:

http://boredompays.blogspot.ca/

http://jasonrbradshaw.tumblr.com/

Jenn Woodall (anxiety):

http://jwoodall.tumblr.com/

https://gumroad.com/jenn_woodall#

Sarafin; “mad pride” (experience being in the psychiatric system): http://asylumsquad.ca

http://thepsychosisdiaries.com/

Sylvia Reuter:

http://sylvies-swamp.tumblr.com/

http://www.sylviereuter.de/#_=_

That’s it!

I would be happy to answer any questions! Please let me know if there is something I should add or clarify.

 

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