It’s not often that a comics panel will make me put a book down to catch my breath. Our Cancer Year, a 1994 comics memoir by Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner and Frank Stack, chronicles Pekar and Brabner’s lives as Pekar, a legend in the history of underground and independent comics, was being treated for lymphoma. … Continue reading “A Story about a Year Someone Was Sick”: Two Comics about Cancer.
My last three Doonesbury-related posts examined Garry Trudeau’s chronicle of the legal, economic and social changes surrounding marijuana in the United States over the last fifty years, mostly told through the experiences of veteran stoner Zonker Harris. In the 1970s, Zonker faced the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence over a trumped-up possession charge; in … Continue reading How Do You Smoke A Weed?: A Review of a Comics Guide to a Responsible High.
On 23 June 2019, Garry Trudeau returned to a topic that has woven its way through Doonesbury since the earliest days of the strip: marijuana. Zonker asks Zipper to sweep out the drying shed at their (now quasi-legal) marijuana grow-op, Z&Z Bud. Zipper resents having to do menial work when he could be focusing on … Continue reading “It Sure Is Against the Law.” Marijuana, Part One: Zonker’s Bust and Box Brown’s Cannabis.
Over the last year or so, I wrote about Garry Trudeau’s coverage of the Vietnam war in Doonesbury. Trudeau broke new ground in mainstream comic strips by using satire to draw attention to the atrocities committed by the United States in pursuit of its war aims and by introducing a sympathetic enemy character in Phred … Continue reading Comics Review: Clément Baloup’s Mémoires de Viet Kieu
Since the emergence of Donald Trump as a political figure, antisemitism has found new public acceptability. From the close relationships Trump and his supporters fostered with alt-right people and outlets including Steve Bannon, Brietbart, and the Daily Caller, all of whom have been linked to antisemitic statements, to his half-hearted condemnation of a white supremacist … Continue reading “Jews Make Awkward Overlords”: Two Comics About Jewish Identity and Israel.
Depressed Dave, by Mak, a Singaporean comics artist, is a webcomic that’s been running since December 2017. The comic, loosely based on Mak’s life, chronicles the titular character’s experience with severe depression. Mak balances Dave’s story with explanations of depression’s causes, effects, and strategies to address it. The “explainer” strips help us understand what Dave … Continue reading Comics Review: Depressed Dave
A while back, I reviewed Julia Kaye’s Super Late Bloomer, a comics journal chronicling the author’s early days in transition. On the heels of Kaye’s book, Vancouver’s Sabrina Symington has published First Year Out: A Transition Story, a comic about a woman’s experience with the process of gender transition. Like Kaye’s story, the story that … Continue reading Comics Review: First Year Out, a Transition Story
C.L.R. James (1901-1989) was a Trinidadian-British Marxist and pan-Africanist historian, writer, political theorist and activist. If you’re a halfway serious student of twentieth-century radical thought, you know that already. If you’re not, here’s a quick, and incomplete, summary of his achievements: His 1936 novel Minty Alley was the first novel published by a West Indian … Continue reading Comics Review: “The Young C.L.R. James: A Graphic Novelette.”
VANCAF – the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival – is where I often learn about comics and creators that might otherwise fly underneath my radar. My personal highlight of the 2018 edition of VANCAF was discovering the work of the Los Angeles-based cartoonist Julia Kaye. The strips she had on display immediately caught my eye, as … Continue reading Comics Review: Julia Kaye’s Super Late Bloomer
Kobane is a city of about 40,000 people in northern Syria; it is the administrative capital of Rojava, a multi-ethnic self-declared autonomous region that Kurdish nationalists claim as part of a greater Kurdistan. The city was besieged by ISIS militants in July 2014 and liberated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their all-woman … Continue reading Comics Review: Zerocalcare’s Kobane Calling