Hamon and Fondren hold diverse collections of graphic novels that cover a range of subjects such as cultural identity, illness, politics, and history. Graphic novels are usually longer than comic books and tell a single story within one volume. Graphic novels tell stories in a way that regular novels do not, with a certain level of abstraction, artistic flexibility, and (many times) underlying humor.
Here are some notable graphic novels (and one anthology of comics) held at Hamon. These selections are temporarily located (along with a few other treasures) in the featured books section on the first floor near our periodicals.
Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi (2006)
Satrapi is well-known for her autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis (which was also made into a film) set against the backdrop of politically tense 1970s-80s Iran. In Chicken With Plums, Satrapi tells the story of her great uncle, a famous tar player living in 1950s Iran who, after having his tar broken, decides that he no longer wants to live. His last few days are filled with flashbacks, and the reader is allowed glimpses into a future he’ll never experience.
Letting it Go by Miriam Katin (2013)
Katin, a Holocaust survivor and artist (check out her memoir), writes about coping with her son’s decision to move to Berlin, a city for which she has great disdain. After visiting Berlin to see her son and returning when the Jewish Museum of Berlin asks to display her art, Miriam is forced to confront the trauma of her own past while learning more about a city attempting to come to terms with its past.
Johnny Cash: I See Darkness by Reinhard Kleist (2009)
Kleist narrates the highest and lowest points of Cash’s life in his graphic biography of the legendary musician, including Cash’s early years working with his family in a cotton field, his addiction, his first marriage to Vivian Liberto Distin, his subsequent marriage to June Carter Cash, and his prison concerts. Kleist artfully weaves lyrics from Cash’s most famous songs into the biography, providing a guiding soundtrack for readers that symbolically captures the complexities of his life.
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A memoir by Roz Chast (2014)
Selected as one of the New York Times’ 10 Best Books of 2014, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant is a tracing of Chast’s final years with her elderly parents. Chast has been a cartoonist for the New Yorker since 1978, developing a signature style that often includes commentary on the everyday comedy of family life. But Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant is a more intimate (yet still comical) look into Chast’s family, with themes such as guilt and buried childhood anxieties that any audience can relate to.
Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology edited by Jeff Yang, Parry Shew, Keith Chow, and Jerry Ma (2009)
Secret Identities is a lively collection of comics created by Asian-American (Indian, Nepalese, Korean, Vietnamese, among others) writers and illustrators. Challenging various characteristics of the hegemonic comic book “hero,” Secret Identities includes stories that feature protagonists ranging from everyday heroes to those with supernatural powers. The comics counter and mock historic and current stereotypes about Asian-Americans, as well as present new and more honest narratives.
What are some of your favorite graphic novels at Hamon or Fondren? Include your suggestions in a comment below!
Image: Huang, Nick, writer. Just Ordinary. Illustrated by Alexander Shen. New York: New Press, 2009. 142. Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.
Image 1: Satrapi, Marjane. Chicken with Plums. New York: Pantheon, 2009. 17. Print.
Image 2: Katin, Miriam. Letting it Go. Montreal: Drawn and Quarterly, 2013. Print.
Image 3: Kleist, Reinhard. Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness. New York: Abrams, 2009. 144. Print.
Image 4: Chast, Roz. Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. 29. Print.
Image 5: Sakai, Koji Steven, writer. Meet Joe. Illustrated by John Franzese. New York: New Press, 2009. 156. Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.