Staff Picks Category: Comics

The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks by Igort []

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New graphic nonfiction by Italian comics artist Igort!
Over the past few decades only a small handful of Igort’s work have been translated into English, despite his status as an award winning graphic novelist and the founder of esteemed publishing house Coconino Press, so a new arrival of his to our shores is always a reason for excitement.
For his newest graphic novel Igort spent two years in Ukraine and Russia collecting stories from survivors and witnesses of life under Soviet rule. Focusing on the government sanctioned famine of 1932, and the assassination in 2006 of journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya, this collection of deeply affecting interviews is rendered in Igort’s stark yet compassionate illustrative style. A single opening panel just telling the year can pack as much emotion and connotative information as some other artist’s entire novels, simply through his layering of images and line work — a true master of the craft.
Definitely not an easy read in terms of its direct depictions of human atrocities, but certainly one of the most important graphic novels of the year, humanizing events that have mostly been told through a skewed western lens, while also connecting current turmoil in the region to its tumultuous past, helping create a more complete and honest history.

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Krazy Kat: the Comic Art of George Herriman [, ]

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Krazy Kat was a remarkable and hugely influential daily comic. Found in newspapers around the country for over 30 years, from 1913 and 1944, it would influence comics greats such as Charles M. Schulz, Will Eisner, and Bill Watterson. Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman provides an overview of the life and works of Krazy Kat creator George Herriman, and includes a large collection of beautifully reproduced daily and Sunday Krazy Kat strips.

Herriman’s astonishing Sunday Krazy Kats are reason to pick up this book alone. Giant, free form, brightly colored affairs, unconstrained by the rigid panels of today’s strips, it is the surreal landscapes and innovative design of the Sunday strips for which Herriman is best know, and with good reason. (Fans of Calvin and Hobbes will immediately recognize the influence of these strips on Bill Waterson’s Spaceman Spiff strips.)

Krazy Kat is not particularly funny, but I love reading it. Krazy Kat is dreamlike and poetic, a little bit difficult, and very much worth your while. Full of characters and images you will not forget, this is a bit of comics history you should definitely check out.

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Understanding comics by Scott McCloud [, ]

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The first book in Scott McCloud’s influential trilogy of comics about comics, “Understanding Comics” is both entertaining and informative. Anyone interested in art and storytelling would enjoy reading this fascinating book.

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