The graphic novel medium is not only perfect for comic book superheroes to defeat villains, but also for telling important, real and personal stories. Many authors choose to portray their stories or ideals in comic format with vividly detailed scenery and images to tell a unique story while also remaining symbolic on their own.
Graphic novels are simply the best of both worlds, especially if an author wishes to captivate their readers in a world the author knows immensely well. Here are three graphic novels that are emotionally riveting and tell very personal experiences on the accounts of their authors.
1. ‘Maus’ by Art Spiegelman
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Art Spiegelman adds particular flavor in his work by personifying the denizens of Europe during the Nazi blitzkrieg and occupation as different types of animals. In doing this, the author adds even more symbolism and dramatic effect when trying to capture the sentiments of the horrid events of The Holocaust.
The events in Maus are taken from interviews with Spiegelman’s own father, a Holocaust survivor. Vladek Spiegelman had always been an eccentric and cautious man to his son. Through interviews given after the author’s mother’s suicide, Vladek gives his son his own firsthand account of how the Holocaust shaped him into the man he had become. This is not only the story of a Holocaust survivor. This is also a family testament in dealing with various events in their lives, and how a father and son truly get to know one another.
2. ‘Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi
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Satrapi’s work is one of the best modern bildungsroman pieces available. Persepolis gives us the story of the author’s childhood in Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution. Satrapi’s autobiographical work does not shy away from any issues; be they political, religious, or gender roles. The author’s childhood is plagued with civil unrest and varying, clashing political views. It is a volatile time in Satrapi’s homeland, and we are given her entire experience.
Marjane Satrapi details her artwork in mostly black and white, but her classic cartoon imagery helps play up each interaction between characters. Although the art style may appear simple to some, the reactions captured by each character in each page helps layer the work more to bring us right in Satrapi’s childhood.
3. ‘Palestine’ by Joe Sacco
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Palestine a collection of experiences by Joe Sacco about his time in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Although some may argue that the author’s depictions may be biased for only depicting the point of view of the Palestinians, Joe Sacco’s graphic novel is still a worthy read full of moments and pages that will deliver perspective about the polarizing conflict that still goes on.
The graphic novel spans over the year Sacco spent living among the Palestinians from December 1991 to January 1992. Sacco uses his comic imagery to evoke the desperation and squalor of the occupied territories. The author chooses to be involved with the Palestinian people, instead of just being another observant journalist. Joe Sacco’s depictions are heartfelt and detailed while at the same time, vibrant for how he brings to life his one year in Palestine.
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