Help me find more graphic memoirs
February 28, 2019 2:46 PM   Subscribe

I've just discovered that I love reading graphic memoirs, and I want to read more. What am I missing from my list?

I'm not sure if this genre is really small, or it's too new/vaguely defined to be easily searchable, but I'm quickly running out of books to read and keep coming across recommendations for the same handful of books over and over.

If it's relevant, I'm mainly reading these in digital form (Kobo, or Apple Books if not available on Kobo). I've had trouble finding them on the shelf here in Melbourne, and haven't been game to buy physical copies without being able to see and feel them first. But I'm open to any that are only available in physical form, too.

What I've read:
- El Deafo
- The Heartbreak Diet
- It's All Absolutely Fine
- Kid Gloves

On my to-read list already:
- Rosalie Lightning
- Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
- Rx
- Kind of Coping
- Art Matters
- Lighter Than My Shadow
- French Milk
- Fun Home
- Are You My Mother?
- Passing For Human
- Hello, New York

I really don't like anything that feels like a comic book, with comic-style art. Otherwise I'm pretty open. Bonus points for anything about making art. The word:picture ratio doesn't matter, either. Oh, and recommendations for any of the books on my to-read list so I know what to read next would also be great!
posted by bellebethcooper to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Good Talk - by Mira Jacob (coming out in March)
posted by alathia at 2:49 PM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me, by Ellen Forney.

Hey, Kiddo, by Jarrett Krosoczka .
posted by gideonfrog at 2:53 PM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is just crazy good.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:03 PM on February 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Can you clarify what you mean by "a comic book with comic book style art"? Do you mean like superhero comics, as opposed to a cartoon style?

Honor Girl, by Maggie Thrash

Calling Dr. Laura, Nicole J. Georges.
posted by gideonfrog at 3:13 PM on February 28, 2019

Follow up question: about half the suggestions so far (all good ones!) aren't available on Kobo or Apple Books (at least, not in Australia and in English). I'm not okay with supporting Amazon by buying Kindle or physical version from them, and Amazon owns Book Depository so I'd rather not order the physical versions from there either. I could have physical copies ordered in from a local bookshop. What other ethical options do I have for tracking these down?
posted by bellebethcooper at 3:15 PM on February 28, 2019

To clarify about the style:

It's All Absolutely Fine and The Heartbreak Diet are my favourite kind. Basically illustrated books.

El Deafo and Kid Gloves are okay. Comic strip style, but the art style doesn't look like a classic comic.

This kind of thing and this (comic strip + comic style art) is not my thing.
posted by bellebethcooper at 3:21 PM on February 28, 2019

posted by Ragged Richard at 3:21 PM on February 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

I haven’t actually read it myself, but All The Answers by Michael Kupperman sounds interesting and I’ve been vaguely meaning to check it out.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:24 PM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Spinning by Tillie Walden
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:45 PM on February 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maus won a Pulitzer Prize. There is also Maus II and Art Speigelman is fascinating in general.
There's another one about Jimmy something, and it might be Are you my Mother that I read this summer. (It was).
posted by bquarters at 4:09 PM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Roz Chast Can we speak about something more pleasant?
posted by bquarters at 4:12 PM on February 28, 2019

Came in to suggest Maus, but maaaaay be more comics-style than you're looking for? But soooo gooood.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:22 PM on February 28, 2019

> What other ethical options do I have for tracking these down?

Try your public library! I check out graphic novels from the library all the time, but you may also have access to an ebook service of some sort through your library too.

The most recent thing I checked out at the library was a graphic memoir of Mary Shelly called Mary's Monster, you might enjoy it. The author did choose to fill in some gaps in what we know about Mary, but it wasn't fantastical at all. She explained her reasoning and cited her sources.
posted by Secretariat at 4:37 PM on February 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

A mix of memoirs and biographies and lighter autobio comix here:

• Box Brown's Andre the Giant and Is This Guy For Real? (about Andy Kaufman)

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick

Drinking at the Movies by Julia Wertz

• Jeffrey Brown has several: Clumsy, Unlikely, Any Easy Intimacy (AEIOU), Undeleted Scenes, Funny Misshapen Body and A Matter of Life

• Guy Delisle, also several: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, Burma Chronicles, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City

And seconding Kupperman's All The Answers.
posted by D.Billy at 4:49 PM on February 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Another recommendation for March (John Lewis memoir), which is a three-vol set. Excellent on so many levels, even if the graphic genre isn’t typically your thing.
posted by bookmammal at 5:09 PM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Tomboy by Liz Prince
Stitches by David Small
You & a Bike & the Road by Eleanor Davis
Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (especially if you liked El Deafo)
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
French Milk is Lucy Knisley's first full-length memoir and Kid Gloves is her most between there was Relish, An Age of License, Displacement, and Something New

I've gotta second the March series by John Lewis, it's awesome.
And of course Persepolis, it's a classic of the genre.

For something about making art, Lynda Barry is where it's at. My personal favorite is One Hundred Demons and it is also autobiographical.

A graphic biography I really enjoyed was California Dreamin' by Penelope Bagieu, about Cass Elliot. So if making art includes making music for you, there's that.

From your to-read list, I must say I always urge everyone I know to read Fun Home whether they're interested in comics or not. I think it's a masterpiece.
posted by lampoil at 6:06 PM on February 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

I recently found Snowden by Ted Rall - a political cartoonist - which I really enjoyed. He has a series of these.

Derf Backderf has a book called My Friend Dahmer which may be too comic-y. The author went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer. I've only read the Kindle sample so I don't know the depth of it, but the sample should give you an idea what it's like.
posted by bendy at 6:09 PM on February 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

Wait, no Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi mentioned yet? whew, lampoli just posted it!

I can recommend Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home by Nora Krug.

Also seconding Blankets, Maus, Feynman, and Lynda Barry's One! Hundred! Demons! as all excellent. (I would think there would be used copies floating around of some of these?)
posted by gudrun at 6:40 PM on February 28, 2019

Pretending is Lying, by Dominique Goblet. I found it both beautiful and difficult (content warning: child abuse). I rarely read books over again, but this one rewarded a second read-through. I especially found that I needed some time for the unusual artistic style to sink in.
posted by somedaycatlady at 7:05 PM on February 28, 2019

If a quasi-biography is OK, I'd suggest Reinhard Kleist's Nick Cave: Mercy On Me. (I don't think it should be too hard to find in Melbourne.)
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 7:53 PM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ariel Schrag's Potential.
posted by the_blizz at 8:25 PM on February 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry, as well as any of her creativity books.
posted by Marky at 9:39 PM on February 28, 2019

To the Heart of the Storm by Will Eisner. It's about his father's immigration to the US and his time growing up until he joined the military for WWII. It's incredibly good, it's Will Eisner, more people should know about it.
posted by Hactar at 11:03 PM on February 28, 2019

I recently read Antonio Altarriba and Kim's The Art of Flying, which is based on Altarriba's father's memoirs of his life before, during and after the Spanish Civil War. It's a very powerful and personal work.

The translation is also very good. I'm a Spaniard, my first language is Spanish, and I'd never read a Spanish book in translation by choice. However, I found the English version at a local library and decided to read it rather than wait until I had access to a copy in Spanish. No regrets; it's a very good edition.
posted by kandinski at 5:18 AM on March 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Monsters and Sick by Gabby Schulz (aka "Ken Dahl")
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:35 AM on March 1, 2019

Epileptic by David Beauchard
Mimi Pond's 'Over Easy' and 'The Customer Is Always Wrong'
Julie Doucet - My New York Diary
posted by Joeruckus at 6:58 AM on March 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Becoming, Unbecoming by Una explores a teenager's sexual assault by a beloved radio figure who preyed on his fans. The topic is very hard, the art is unlike any I've seen, and it rewards multiple reading.
posted by Jesse the K at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2019

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (adapted from her blog)
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:12 PM on March 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Blankets was fantastic. I also loved the King-Cat compilations by John Porcellino (especially Map of My Heart and The Hospital Suite).

Logicomix is not a memoir but does shed some light on Bertrand Russell's fascinating personal life.
posted by kuma440 at 6:40 AM on March 2, 2019

This is my favorite genre, too!

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has an exhibit (their first featuring graphic novels/comics) called: Out of the Box: The Graphic Novel Comes of Age. While the strictly autobiographical/memoir works have already been mentioned (Small, Krosozka, Telgemeier, Brosgol), maybe the other narratives will hit that sweet spot despite being fictional accounts.

Have read and would recommend:

The Arab of the Future (and sequels) by Riad Sattouf are phenomenal memoirs of his childhood

The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden about her experiences with cancer through the framework about her breasts throughout her life

Marzi by Marzena Sowa and Sylvain Savoia is about Marzena growing up in Soviet-controlled Poland

A Game for Swallows and I Remember Beirut by Zeinia Abirached is about growing up during the civil war in Beirut

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less and Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden - the first is about her experience on her Birthright Israel tour; the second is about a trip she accompanied reporter friends on to Turkey, Iraq, and Syria to discuss the effects of the Iraq War

Prison Island by Colleen Frakes is about growing up on McNeil Island in Washington State; both her parents worked at the prison on the island

American Widow by Alissa Torres, illustrated by Sungyoon Choi - about how the author, pregnant at the time, coped with losing her husband in 9/11

Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt -- I think the subtitle captures this one

Dumb: Living without a voice by Georgia Webber

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi is about a Japanese woman grappling with her sexuality, family dynamics, and mental health. However, I do not recommend the sequel to this one.

Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and draw by Clement Oubrerie are semi-autobiographical accounts of life in Cote d'Ivoire.

Everything Is Teeth by Evie Wyld and Joe Sumner - about Evie Wyld's young childhood summers in coastal Australia

The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell about the author reconciling her father's stories of his life with the reality while figuring out who she is

Kampung Boy and Town Boy by Lat are not explicitly autobiographical, but are an account of a Muslim boy's childhood in a small village in Malaysia (where the author is from).

Have not yet read but on my list:

Dare to Disappoint by Ozge Samanci is about her coming of age in Turkey in the 1980s, clashing with parental and societal expectations.

Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart - about the death of his young daughter

Don't Go Where I Can't Follow by Anders Nilsen - about his relationship with his fiancee and her illness and death

Flying Couch by Amy Kurzweil - interwoven narrative of the author (young, Jewish artist), her mother (psychologist), and her grandmother (WWII survivor)

Snapshots of a Girl by Sezen Beldan about the author's coming of age and coming out as a queer person of color in Europe
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:24 AM on March 6, 2019

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