I start many of the Education courses I teach with a book commercial. Some of my former students (now teachers) have expressed interest in still being able to find out what I have been reading, and so here we are. The reviews that follow are designed for teachers. They include the citation of the book, the first few opening lines, a brief summary of the book, a recommendation, and information about whether or not the book is likely to be challenged.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Hey look! A huge list of history-related graphic novels!
Last night I had the privilege of speaking to a group of Masters students at North Eastern Illinois University. They gave me the idea that I ought to post some of my annotated graphic novel lists here. The list that follows is all graphic novels that could be helpful in teaching history. They are in alphabetical order by author. There may be a few typos. My deepest apologies.
Amir; Khalil (2011) Zahra’s Paradise.New York:First Second.Excellent piece about repression and execution of political dissidents in Iran.It is a surprisingly moving piece (especially the pages of names in the back).Unfortunately, there is some nudity and extreme violence which means that any attempt to use this piece in class will result in challenges.Great book all the same.
Ho Che Anderson (1993) King1 and 2, Fantagraphics.Anderson presents a balanced biography of King.Art is black and white.Emphasizes King's womanizing, though.
Baker, Kyle (2008)Nat TurnerNew York: Harry N.Abrams.Sequential panels of narrative, but images and text are separate.Adds emotional depth to the pretty flat text of Turner’s confession. It makes Turner's period prose accessible.
Bellstorf, Arne (2012) Baby’s in Black:Astrid Kirschherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles.New York:First Second.
Early days of the Beatles.Concerns the romance between bassist Stuart Sutcliffe and photographer Astrid Kirchherr.
Brown, C. (1999). Louis Riel:A Comic Strip Biography. Montreal, Drawn and Quarterly.
Excellent biography of Louis Reil -- a 19th century Metis leader who fought with his people against the Canadian government's attempt to take their land.He may have been insane.
Buhle, Paul; Pekar, H.; Piskor, Ed.(2009) The Beats: A Graphic History.London:Souvenir Press.Nice set of parallel biographies.Some language, drug, and situational issues described.
Interesting biography of John Wilkes Booth.Some very brief nudity.Some adult situations alluded to. I think it could work for high school, though.
Crowley, Michael; Goldman, Dan.(2009)08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail.New York:Three Rivers Press.Excellent diary of the 08 campaign – narrators are two reporters who are following the candidates.
Delisle, G. (2003). PyongYang: A Journey in North Korea. Montreal, Drawn and Quarterly.
A good introduction to daily life in North Korea.Not very sympathetic to Kim Il Jung's government.
DeLisle, G. (2008). Burma Chronicles. Montreal, Drawn and Quarterly.
Excellent story of the ex pat life in Burma.Guy's wife works for Doctors Without Borders.Story is somewhat episodic without a clear thematic throughline -- but still fun.
El Rassi, Toufic (2007) Arab in America San Francisco; Last Gasp
Not really history exactly, but it is a first person response to 9-11 from an Arab-American and it shows what he went through.Art is pretty amateur.
Fein, E. and K. Hartman (2009). Mystery at Manzanar" A WWII Internment Camp Story. Mankato, Stone Arch. Good stuff -- leveled, though.Also clearly fictionalized.Maybe 4th or 5th grade.
Guibert, E. (2008). Alan's War:The memories of G.I. Alan Cope. New York, First Second.
Primary source:Excellent historical novel tracking one man's life as a US Soldier fighting in Europe during World War Two.He ends up moving to Europe.Themes:The transient nature of friendships forged during wartime.
Hee, Han Yong (2006)Chinggis Khaan:Birth of the hero Ulaanbaatar: Interpress.Excellent illustrated biography of Ghengis Khan.Text is wooden and oddly translated.Not much room for sourcing.
Hennessey, Jonathan; McConnell, Aaron (2008) The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation
At some point, Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, creators of The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation (2008) must have realized that what they were attempting was, at best, insane. The text alternates between the text of the Constitution, the words of the founding fathers taken from other sources, a contemporary voice explaining what the different articles mean, and dialogue between people affected by the constitution in today's world. The artwork combines historical scenes with symbolic representations (the three branches of government -- executive, legislative, and judicial, are represented by giants in suits with their respective buildings -- white house, capital dome, and supreme court building -- as heads. The states are represented by their state birds, with the bald eagle representing the interests of the federal government.)
Heuvel, Eric (2007)A Family Secret.New York:Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Fictionalized story of the resistance in Holland during WWII.Kinda didactic.
Heuvel, Eric; vanderRol, Ruud; Schippers, Lies (2007)The Search.New York:Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Fictionalized story of the resistance in Holland during WWII.Kinda didactic.
Hoppey, T. and R. Espinoza (2009). Jungle Scout:A Vietnam War Story. Mankato, MN, Stone Arch.
Not a bad story – but the controlled vocabulary is sometimes noticeable and the glossary is flawed.
Hunt, Gerry (2009) Blood Upon the Rose: Easter 1916.Dublin: The O’Brien Press
Excellent, though it presupposes a familiarity with the events depicted.
Jablonski, Carla; Puvis, Leland. (2010)Resistance: Book 1.New York: First Second.Excellent fictional account of a French boy and his sister who get drawn into working for the resistance against the Nazis.My only complaint is the the story really doesn’t reach much of a resolution – more of a pause and a set up for the next book.Well worth reading.
Jacobson, S. and E. Colon (2006). The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation. New York, Hill and Wang.
Jacobson, S. and E Colon (2008)After 9/11: America’s War on Terror.New York: Hill and Wang.Not nearly as good as the 9/11 report.This one consists of disconnected panels summarizing news stories.Mostly talking heads with a bizarre variety of styles from realistic to caricature.
Johnson, Matt; Pleece, Warren(2008)Incognegro, New York: DC
Fictional story of a black reporter who can pass for white and uses this to pose as a KKK guy and attends lynchings to cover them – gets names and stuff.He has decided to retire, too many close calls, then he finds out that his brother has been arrested in the South.He goes down there to try to solve the crime.
Kendall, David (2007) The Mammoth Book of Best War Comics.New York:Carroll and Graf
This anthology covers rah rah war comics from WWII, protest commix from the Viet Nam era, and a manga style Japanese response to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Kubert, J. (1996). Fax from Sarajevo. Milwaukie, OR, Dark Horse.
Touching story about Ervin's efforts to get his family out of Sarajevo.Kubert wrote, illustrated, and lettered.
Laird, R. and E. Bey (1997). Still I Rise: A Cartoon History of African Americans. New York, Norton.
Excellent -- good historical research well presented.Fantastic for High School
Landowne, Youme; Horton, Anthony.(2008?) Pitch Black.New York?: Cinco Puntos Press.Interesting exploration of the life of the homeless above and below ground in New York City.Good for high school sociology maybe?
Long, Mark; Demonakos, Jim; Powell, Nate.(2012) The Silence of our Friends: The Civil rights struggle was never black and white.New York:First Second.Excellent story about the civil rights struggle in Texas as seen through the eyes of the son of a white reporter.Vulgar language may be problematic for use in classroom.High school kids would enjoy reading it though.
Lutes, J. and N. Bertozzi (2007). Houdini: The Handcuff King. New York, Hyperion.
Excellent -- it is a single day of Houdini's life, but manages to get across as much as a biography.Very well done.
Miller, Frank; Varley, Lynn (1998) 300 Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse.Gory depiction of the Spartan’s stand at Themopolae.Captures the Spartan war ethic effectively.Accurate illustrations.
Ottaviani, J., J. Johnson, et al. (2001). Fallout: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and the Political Science of the Atomic Bomb. Ann Arbor, G.T. Labs (Publishing) Excellent story of Oppenheimer's role in inventing and building the atomic bomb, and how he was attacked later in is career under suspicion of being a communist.
Pekar, H. and D. Collier (2005). Unsung Hero: The Story of Robert McNeill. Milwaukie OR, Dark Horse.
First person account of an African-American soldier in Viet Nam -- good for history class.Language is not really that bad.
Rall, T. (2002). To Afganistan and Back. New York, Nantier Beall Minoustchine Publishing Inc. Kind of a graphic novel travelogue and history lesson. Might bet a little dull for high school students.
Sacco, J. (2009)Footnotes in Gaza New York: Henry Holt.This is an excellent bit of reporting about the current situation in Palestine and about a bloody incident that occurred in 1956.The language is pretty rough at times, but the piece does a nice job of giving the readera variety of different accounts so that the reader can corroborate the story himself or herself.
Sacco, J. (2001). Palestine. Seattle, Fantagraphics.
Some violence, some adult situations – excellent look at the region – many primary accounts.
Sacco, J. (2002). Safe Area Gorazde. Seattle, WA, Fantagraphics.
Some violence, some adult situations – excellent look at the Bosnian War – many primary accounts.
Sacco, J. (2005) War’s End: Profiles from Bosnia 1995-96Montreal:Drawn and Quarterly.Two shorter profiles.Profanity, violence.
Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. New York, Pantheon. Addresses some of the history of Iran (though this is not its primary focus)
Sim, Dave. (1986).High SocietyWindsor, Ontario: Aardvark-Vanaheim.Cerebus the Aardvark gets elected prime minister of a country that is fiercely dedicated to its bureaucracy and machinations.He tries to be a good prime minister, but is hamstrung by graft and corruption.An interesting (if slanted) work for a political science or civics class.
Spiegelman, A. (1986). Maus I. New York, Pantheon. 'Nuff said.
Spiegelman, A. (1986). Maus II, a Survivor's Tale. New York, Pantheon. 'Nuff said.
Sturm, J. and R. Tommaso (2007). Stachel Paige:Striking Out Jim Crow. New York, Hyperion.
Excellent!Good for fourth grade on up.This is a real story, sensitively uses the N word once -- great themes.
Taylor, Sarah Stewart; Towle, Ben (2010) Amelia Earhart:This Broad ocean.New York:Hyperion.Sort of a fiction piece about a girl reporter who lives on an island in Newfoundland which is the starting point for Earhart’s attempt to fly across the Atlantic.A lot of biographical data here, and extensive end-notes for at least some sourcing.
vandenBogaert, H. M. and G. O'Connor (2006). Journey into Mohawk Country. New York, First Second.
GN of primary source historical document.Brief very partial nudity. Should be fine for high school
Zinn, H., M. Konopacki, et al. (2008). A People's History of American Empire. New York, Henry Holt. Alternate history of the United States that focuses on the ways the US has oppressed other peoples during the process of imperialism. Argues against war.
Zinsmeister, Karl; Jurgens, Dan(2005) Combat Zone;True Tales of GIs in Iraq.New York: MarvelOne sided tales – very aggressively pro-military and pro-war.