Real life, in graphic detail

In 1986, Art Spiegelman’s classic Maus, a biographical account of the author’s parents as survivors of the Nazi death camps, showed us that true stories could be told as graphic novels. Since then, many, many authors have successfully turned to using graphic novels to share their personal stories and revisit history.

Josh Neufeld’s A.D.: New Orleans after the deluge shares the true stories of six New Orleanians from the hours before Katrina struck to its horrific aftermath. Denise is a sixth-generation New Orleanian who experiences the chaos of the Superdome; the Doctor offers his unscathed French Quarter home for those not so lucky; Abbas and his friend Mansell face the storm from the roof of Abbas’s family-run market; Kwame, a pastor’s son who finds his young life will remain wildly unsettled well into the future; and Leo, a comic-book fan, and his girlfriend, Michelle, who lose everything but each other.

In Ruts & Gullies: Nine days in Saint Petersburg, Philippe Girard turns a trip to a comic festival in Russia with his friend and publisher Jimmy Beaulieu into an inner journey. Throughout the book, Girard is haunted by the spectre of his deceased friend, Guillaume, who tries to remind him that he should really get those varicose veins fixed – and that it’s about time to let go and move on. Girard takes us on a nine-day journey through the sites, sounds, and culture of St. Petersburg, with glimpses into the architecture, bars, and real people of the city, not to mention a first-hand account of what it’s like to lose your passport in Russia.

Adapted from the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe winning animated film of the same name, Waltz with Bashir: A Lebanon war story is a stunning investigation into one soldier’s real-life experience during Israel’s 1982 war in Lebanon. One night in Beirut, while Israeli soldiers secured the area, Christian militia members entered the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila and began to massacre hundreds of Palestinians. Ari Folman was one of those Israeli soldiers, but for more than twenty years he remembered nothing of that night or of the weeks leading up to it. Then came a friend’s disturbing dream, and with it Folman’s need to excavate the truth of the war in Lebanon and answer the crucial question: what was he doing during the hours of slaughter?

– Barbara

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