Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Graphic novels in Booth

Booth Library recently purchased a great many graphic novels and comics-related books. “Graphic novel” is a strange term, as graphic novels are often nowhere near novels in their length and narrative complexity. I like the term “picture book,” because it’s straightforward and accurate, but “picture book” usually refers to children’s books, especially those for younger kids who don’t yet read “chapter books.”

Anyway, here are three books that are now back in the library and that I’d enthusiastically recommend. You can find the library’s stash of graphic novels in the New Books area near the Periodicals desk.

Raymond Briggs, Ethel & Ernest: A True Story: You might know Raymond Briggs as the author-artist of the well-known children’s book The Snowman. This book is the story of his parents’ lives, from the 1920s to their deaths in the 1970s. Beautiful art, great honesty, and the happiness and sadness with which life goes on, generation after generation.
GraFX CT788.B7742 B75 1999

Harvey Pekar and David Collier, Unsung Hero: The Story of Robert McNeill: I love Harvey Pekar’s autobiographical American Splendor series and the movie it inspired. This installment of American Splendor is different, documenting not Pekar’s life but that of Robert McNeill, a Vietnam veteran and co-worker. McNeill’s story is one of bravery, fear, and luck, both good and bad. I’m moved by Pekar’s determination to “sing” the story of this unsung hero—the same impulse to memorialize that runs through Homer’s poetry of war. Several panels show Pekar listening to his friend and writing it all down.
GraFX PN6727.P44 467 2003x

Bryan Talbot, The Tale of One Bad Rat: Helen, a young woman in contemporary England, flees her father’s sexual abuse for life on the streets and, later, in the country. All along, her life-story eerily intersects with that of Beatrix Potter, author of Helen’s favorite books. The Tale of One Bad Rat is the most imaginatively plotted graphic novel that I’ve seen.
GraFX PN6727 .T34 1995x

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