Graphic Novel Memoirs

Posted on June 26, 2017

by Katie M

The beauty of graphic novels is that they appeal to story and art lovers alike. Most of the time our visual representation of a story comes from our imagination, but the illustrations in graphic novels offer another layer to the story; we can understand the author’s perspective in a pictorial way. From Art Spiegelman’s Maus, depicting his father’s experiences surviving the Holocaust, to to Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles, detailing her mother’s struggle with early onset Alzheimer’s, detailing her mother’s struggle with early onset Alzheimer’s, graphic memoirs transcend the comic book status to become literary works of art. We’ve outlined a list of 15 excellent graphic novel memoirs, and they’re all available with your library card!

Stitches by David SmallStitches by David Small

The Caldecott-winning author of Imogene’s Antlers presents a graphic account of his troubled childhood under a radiologist father who subjected him to repeated x-rays and a withholding and tormented mother, an environment he fled at the age of sixteen in the hopes of becoming an artist.

Maus by Art SpiegelmanMaus by Art Spiegelman

A son struggles to come to terms with the horrific story of his parents and their experiences during the Holocaust and in postwar America, in an omnibus edition of Spiegelman’s two-part, Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller.

Persepolis: the story of a childhood by Marjane SatrapiPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

The great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contraditions between public and private life.

You may also enjoy … The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and the film Persepolis based on the graphic novel.

Can't we talk about something more pleasant? : a memoir / Roz ChastCan’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

This title is also available as an eBook.

March Trilogy by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin

Book One A first-hand account of the author’s lifelong struggle for civil and human rights spans his youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and the birth of the Nashville Student Movement.

Book Two The award-winning, best-selling series returns, as John Lewis’ story continues through Freedom Rides and the legendary 1963 March on Washington.

Book Three Conclusion of the MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today’s world.

Fun home : a family tragicomic / Alison BechdelFun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

A fresh and brilliantly told memoir from a cult favorite comic artist, marked by gothic twists, a family funeral home, sexual angst, and great books. This breakout book by Alison Bechdel is a darkly funny family tale, pitch-perfectly illustrated with Bechdel’s sweetly gothic drawings. Like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, it’s a story exhilaratingly suited to graphic memoir form.

The Alcoholic / Jonathan Ames, writer ; Dean Haspiel, artistThe Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames

Coming off a doomed romance, a failing writer searches for hope in the bottom of a bottle as he careens from one off-kilter encounter to another in search of himself.

Tangles : a story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me / Sarah LeavittTangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt

Recounts in graphic novel format how the author’s well-educated, intellectual mother, Mildred, known as Midge, began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease at fifty-two, and follows the effects of the disease on the woman and her family.

This title is also available as an eBook.

Marbles : mania, depression, Michelangelo, and me : a graphic memoir / by Ellen ForneyMarbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

An artist describes her bipolar disorder diagnosis and her struggles with mental stability while discussing other artists and creative people throughout history who were also labeled as crazy, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe and Sylvia Plath.

The Best We Could Do by Thi BuiThe Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

The author describes her experiences as a young Vietnamese immigrant, highlighting her family’s move from their war-torn home to the United States in graphic novel format.

This title is also available as an eBook.

An age of license : [a travelogue] / by Lucy KnisleyAn Age of License by Lucy Knisley

Written during a European book tour promoting her work, an acclaimed cartoonist depicts in drawings and words her new experiences, romantic encounters and the cute cats she met as she visited historic cities across the continent.

Epileptic / David BEpileptic by David B

A personal memoir told in the form of a graphic novel chronicles the author’s experiences growing up with an older brother suddenly afflicted with epilepsy, their parents’ desperate search for a cure, his brother’s increasingly violent and unreachable episodes, the effects of the disease on the family, and the roots of his career as a cartoonist.

Fatherland : a family history / Nina BunjevacFatherland: A Family History by Nina Bunjevac

Recounts the experiences of the author’s family in 1970’s Yugoslavia, detailing how her father, a Serbian nationalist who’s growing fanatacism drove her mother to flee for safety.

Flying couch : a graphic memoir / Amy KurzweilFlying Couch by Amy Kurzweil

This graphic memoir describes how the author came to terms with the story of her grandmother, who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II by disguising herself as a gentile.

Rosalie Lightning : a graphic memoir by Tom HartRosalie Lightning by Tom Hart Rosalie Lightning is Eisner-nominated cartoonist Tom Hart’s beautiful and touching graphic memoir about the untimely death of his young daughter, Rosalie. His heart-breaking and emotional illustrations strike readers to the core, and take them along his family’s journey through loss. Hart uses the graphic form to articulate his and his wife’s on-going search for meaning in the aftermath of Rosalie’s death, exploring themes of grief, hopelessness, rebirth, and eventually finding hope again.

Hart creatively portrays the solace he discovers in nature, philosophy, great works of literature, and art across all mediums in this expressively honest and loving tribute to his baby girl. Rosalie Lighting is a graphic masterpiece chronicling a father’s undying love.

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