Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reader's Wishes: The Open Forum - Autobiographical Comics

This weekend the conversation will be carried by our readers. The Open Forum is a department for broader topics. Recently we've had topics such as recollections of our reading experiences, various food topics, and the evolution and changing interpretations of characters. Feel free to get multiple topics going, but let's try to maintain some flow to the day. Thirty-plus different conversations may not be the best idea...

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and participation!


Abe Lucas said...

I've recently become interested in so-called "autobiographical" comics and have read some stuff by Harvey Pekar (drawn by R. Crumb) and Adrian Tomine. It's been a breath of fresh air and a welcome respite from my usual super-hero, war, and western comics reading. It will not supplant those interests but it has definitely widened the scope of what I'll consider reading. I'd be interested in everyone's thoughts on the subject of "underground" and "indie" comics. Hope this isn't too much of a departure for everyone. :)

Happy New Year!

Edo Bosnar said...

I like both underground and indie comics well enough. Shelton's Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers are pretty good, although I only like to read them in small doses.
I've pretty much loved everything that I've read by the Hernandez brothers, and of the "newer" (meaning published in the last 20 or so years) comics, I actually tend to prefer indie stuff.
However, to answer the original question, I often find those autobiographical comics a bit off putting - a little too much navel gazing at times.

Doug said...

The Indie comics have never resonated with me. Not only do I trend toward being a Marvel Zombie, but I am a Superhero Zombie through and through!

The only comic I can think of that would even approach today's topic is Art Spiegelman's Maus, and Art's story is a major part of that book but certainly not the focus.


Redartz said...

You beat me to it, Doug! Maus was the first thing that came to my mind, although it is more biographical than autobiographical (are those words?).

Will Eisner did amazing , groundbreaking work. "A Contract With God" , for example: though again not strictly an autobiography, it was based on Eisner's life experiences as a New Yorker...

Anonymous said...

I haven't read too many autobiographical comics; I liked Alex Robinson's "Box Office Poison" (which I think was at least partly autobiographical) and Jeffrey Brown's "Girlfriend trilogy/Every Girl is the End of the World For Me".

There's a couple of others I've been meaning to read ("Blankets" by Craig Thompson and "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel) but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

As far as Indie/underground goes, I really haven't read much; Ron Randall's "Trekker" is pretty good, although the early issues were published by Dark Horse, so maybe it doesn't count as Indie.

Mike W.

Garett said...

For Will Eisner, I really like A Contract with God-- beautiful art and strong storytelling. Some of Eisner's other stuff I find a bit shmaltzy, or the characters don't ring as true. Another good one by Eisner is To the Heart of the Storm, which Eisner called a "thinly disguised autobiography". I like how Eisner touches on the hardships and pleasures of life, sexuality, art, jobs, family, etc. His storytelling is true to life with the various relationships and situations he's encountered, and still lively and engaging. Not a chore to read but a joy. The Dreamer is a third Eisner book I like, shorter and fun for comic fans as it has thinly disguised characters representing the early creators of comics like Jack Kirby. It's about Eisner breaking into the cartoon business in his early days.

Joe Kubert's Yossel is an imaginary autobiography with fantastic art and a great story. From Amazon: Joe Kubert’s family came to America from Poland in the 1920s, but the family almost was not allowed into the country. YOSSEL asks the question, “What if my family had still been in Poland when the Warsaw Ghetto was founded?” Kubert's Jew Gangster and also Fax from Sarajevo were also good. I like when older comic creators like Eisner and Kubert move toward realism in their storytelling, and are able to pass on the wisdom of their lives.

I have a couple graphic novels I'm looking forward to, that are autobiographical: Blankets by Craig Thompson, and It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth. I usually prefer the more superhero-ey art of a guy like Kubert, but these look well-drawn in an indie kind of style.

A couple I like in the indie realm:
Mister X, by Motter and the Hernandez Brothers.
Murder Me Dead, by David Lapham.
Looking forward to reading Infinite Kung Fu by Kagan McLeod.

I liked the film Crumb about Robert Crumb, but not really into his comics. He looks like a good artist but his writing doesn't inspire me. I do like taking a look at indie books in general, as they have authentic heart and personality, often much more than the mainstream corporate owned characters. Refreshing.

William Preston said...

Bechdel's FUN HOME is stunningly good. When I tell people about it, I say it's a great "book" rather a great "graphic novel," because I don't want to suggest something like, "For this medium, it's very good."

David Small's STITCHES is excellent, though pretty distressing.

Dr. Oyola said...

Fun Home is frcking fantastic (though the follow up Are You My Mother while technically masterful is not as good).

Some of American Splendor is great.

While not autobiographical (more like historical), I would recommend Ed Piskor's Hip Hop Family Tree which come in treasury edition on retro grade paper. . . they feel like comics that would have come out in the 70s or early 80s.

Rip Jagger said...

Let me add Jack "King" Kirby to this listing. His "Street Code" is a choice autobiographical offering. For a glimpse see this:

Rip Off

ColinBray said...

In addition to those already offered I suggest 'A Complete Lowlife' by Ed Brubaker.

The man can sure write.

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