Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary” as Want to Read:
Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Return to the real-life days of the wild, wild West where the living wasn't so easy... especially for women. Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Cannary) was a bona fide frontierswoman, a professional scout, a drunk, and sometime whore, doing whatever it took to stay alive in the hardscrabble days of American expansion. Writer Christian Perrissin (El Nino, Cape Horn) joins forces w ...more
Hardcover, 366 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by IDW Publishing
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Calamity Jane, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Calamity Jane

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  143 ratings  ·  38 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a really thorough and interesting biography about an incredibly fascinating woman.

I realized while reading this that I was always aware of “Calamity Jane” and that she was inextricably linked with cowboys and the old west, but I never actually knew *anything* about her. Perrissin reveals to readers the complex inner life of this elusive woman, starting from her teens (when she abandoned her siblings, supposedly to get money to help support them), to adulthood (following her rise to infa
Dimitris Papastergiou
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
What can I say about this masterpiece?

Can Christian Perrissin please write something like that for other people from the Old West? Like Jesse James? Please? Pretty please?!

I loved this!

If you're a fan of the old west it's a must. If you're a fun of Calamity Jane then DUH!

This pretty much sums up Calamity's life since she was a kid until the end of her life. THIS is how they should make biographies in comics. That's it. I loved every single bit of it. Even the ones I thought I wouldn't like or
How much do you know about Calmity Jane? Do you confuse her with Annie Oakley? Was she at the Battle of Little Big Horn? Did she really merry Wild Bill Hickok?

This graphic novel tries to answer the questions about her life, but she was apparently a good story teller, and much of what we know of her comes from letters she wrote to her daughter, but never sent. The authors used documents that were as close to the sources as they could, since Calimity Jane had many things written about her while sh
Rod Brown
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
When I read biographies, I'm hoping for insight into a real person or context for why this person's life is important to know. Unfortunately, this long, long graphic novel mostly offers up a string of events that coheres to inform only that Calamity Jane was a habitual liar and alcoholic. Indeed, even the string of events offered has to be asterisked as possibly false, as they are based on sources created mostly by the prevaricator in question herself, and contradictions abound.

The dusty dry nar
Incredibly compelling "biography" of a legendary woman. I did quite a bit of reading online to try to get at what was fact and what was legend, but as the author intimates, it is actually pretty difficult. And so Perrissin has created a love letter of sorts to Jane, and effectively brings along the reader. I cried when she saw her daughter after all those years and then had to part with her all too soon. I would rank this up there with Chester Brown's Louis Riel. It was hard to put it down. ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely charming and extremely well- executed book that manages to portray the subject in a sympathetic light while not glossing over the more unsavory details of her life.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The woman was mad, indubitably mad. Also drunk much of the time. Not willing to take responsibility for anything but herself, an inveterate story teller, and someone who couldn't really get along with people. Was her first daughter Wild Bill Hickok's child? What happened to her third child, Jessie? How much did her drinking affect the health of the little boy who lived only a few weeks?
There appears to be very little information about her life save what was told to others. One interview during w
Maggie Gordon
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Calamity Jane: The Calamitous Life of Martha Jane Cannary is an attempt at a biography of this mysterious woman. A quick google search shows that her life is the subject of a lot of controversy, so who knows exactly what in these pages is true. However, Perrissin does try to take a less Disneyified approach to this woman's life. Calamity was a hard woman who lived a hard life. She travelled, worked jobs that paid poorly, and was an alcoholic. Whatever the truth of her years is, this book probabl ...more
Robert Greenberger
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I knew the name Calamity Jane but nothing much about her so when I saw this had been nominated for an Eisner I picked it up. This is a French biography, translated into English, and leisurely tells the colorful story of the frontier rider. She was many things apparently but all them to spoke a fierce independence, making her an unlikely feminist role model.

She was left to raise her siblings when her parents died and effectively abandoned them (their fates are barely touched on here) to go off on
Adam M
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
*read for the YA Reading Challenge 20202*

This was a far more interesting biography than I would have thought going into it and I really enjoyed it! Christian Perrissin feels really invested in Martha Jane and her story. I totally get that as I'm generally a huge of of the larger-than-life characters from the American west/frontier. There is something really fascinating about what it took to both brave and survive that world and here we're presented with Jane's own truly unbelievable account of h
Nate Hawthorne
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars for the illustrations. The sepia tone of the line drawings adds to the historical feel of the book. Quite beautifully done.

The narrative is take from 3 biographies of Calamity Jane. One text is the copy of her own letters to her "daughter". No one knows how factual the stories actually are.

Still it is all very interesting.
Larry C
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story told with loving compassion and perfect artwork. Who knows what the truth is about this woman? After reading this graphic novel, this is the only version of her story that you’ll want to know.
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
The authors did an excellent job in bringing the historical figure of Calamity Jane to life. I absolutely enjoyed reading this, but I gave it a lower rating because of the inaccuracy of some very basic facts. Of course we don't know the truth about much of Calamity Jane's life, but we do know the fate of Jack McCall, the man who shot and killed Wild Bill Hickok. The authors tell us that McCall was put on trial in Deadwood, found not guilty, and left for Wyoming where he was never heard from agai ...more
Dakota Morgan
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Christian Perrissin offers more stories about Calamity Jane than you ever wanted to know. Seriously, this book is dense, and Jane - while certainly a character! - didn't exactly lead the most thrilling life at all times. There's plenty of moping and alcoholism in between the mad romps with Wild Bill Hickok and run-ins with fierce Native American tribes.

It's at least 80% fascinating, though, and Perrissin does deliver a fully-formed person in Jane, particularly when it comes to the daughter she
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Before this book I never really knew anything about Calamity Jane beyond her name and the fact that she was a figure in the history of the Wild West. This graphic novel changed all that, taking us on a detailed journey through her truly calamitous life and clarifying rumor from what we know to be true. It's fascinating to see everything she went through and the jobs she was able to take on, including a few that required her to disguise herself as a man. It's also heartbreaking to read about many ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
The human experience is the basis of many interesting stories. This is definitely the case for the stary of 'Calamity Jane'. I had heard the name Calamity Jane during my youth, together with other famous ones like Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill et cetera. At the time I didn't reflect on the fact that there was a real life behind the name. This book does a fantastic job of trying to piece together the puzzle that is Martha Jane Cannary's life. What is real, what is exaggeration, what is a humdin ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The French and Belgians have a knack for doing Western comics, which is something I have long been aware of thanks to such great works as Charlier and Giraud's Blueberry and Derib's Buddy Longway among others, but here writer Christian Perrissin and artist Matthieu Blanchin take things a step further by successfully combining the Western comic with the biographical comic, and set to telling a well-researched and highly informative account of the life of Martha Jane Cannary, a.k.a. Calamity Jane. ...more
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’ve read a few biographical graphic novels. This one didn’t continuously hold my interest, but it was good and depicted a life of someone who made her own path amidst a turbulent west, a patriarchal society, and her own bad decisions and drinking. Based on research including a book of letters Martha “Calamity” Jane Cannery wrote to her daughter, it doesn’t ask for sympathy, nor does it paint a traditional hero - just a woman of the west trying to survive. The art is is done in browns on a nice ...more
Nilendu Misra
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the finest graphic novels I’ve read. This teleports you to 1850s frontier and moves linearly toward 20th century through Calamity Jane’s life. Oregon Trail, Indians, Bonding women, childbirth and rugged lives of the frontier comes alive with each pencil stroke of the illustrator. I was genuinely surprised to see the authors were not American. Perhaps that’s why they were able to enliven the spirits of the time so vividly. Great great book!
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ever since I saw the HBO series Deadwood, I've wondered what kind of person Calamity Jane really was. This graphic novel did a fine job doing its best to piece together how Martha Jane Cannary grew up and lived like. Quite an eclectic character that just couldn't seem to settle down is the jist of it, but there's a lot of good stories contained within these pages. A very enjoyable and enlightening read. ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this for a book challenge. It was ok. The graphic novel is not my favorite genre. I knew nothing about Calamity Jane beyond her name and a vague association with the "wild, wild west". Evidently, much about her life isn't known--she was an admitted liar ("storyteller") and her life is mostly undocumented but the bare outlines are enough--she led a very hard life in which survival alone was a large accomplishment. ...more
Peggye O'Neil
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a graphic novel depiction of Calamity Jane's life based on the letters she supposedly wrote to her daughter Janey (some people feel Calamity was barely literate) and two biographies. Known to be a great teller of tales, one doesn't know how much of her life was true and how much she made up.
Was an interesting and fun adaptation to read and caused me to go down the Google rabbit hole to find out more, and possibly the "true" history, about some of the incidences that were presented.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read, one of the best BD's, translated in English, I've read this decade.

A very well written, thorough biography, with excellent flow, honoring Calamity Jane, with all goods and bads, in every one of the overall 360 pages.

My full review in Greek:
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
via NYPL - Don't bother asking yourself if this book is accurate. Whatever records of Jane's life may have existed are hopelessly bound up in the myths she (and others) propagated about her life. Just enjoy this book for what it is - a compelling, well-drawn story of a complex and tragic woman. ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
An intriguing look at the little known oft-embellished life of Calamity Jane. The pictures do as much if not more of the work as the historical record of giving scope to her tale. It's a fascinating rumination on what could be true. One I will keep on my book shelf. ...more
Kevin Luy
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Loved how the art and story supported each other. A fascinating person who helps explain the West as it was, and not as it is often portrayed. And the book does a great job of presenting Jane, flaws and all.
Paxton Holley
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
I really liked this. The art is fantastic. Tells the life of Calamity Jane. Very well told. Keeps the hyperbole to a minimum. Tries to be as close to true as possible. And I don’t think I can stress enough how awesome the art is. Black and white, looks like brush strokes. I really liked it.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good read. I lost some interest when it covered non-Martha Cannary backstory, but I enjoyed the whole book nonetheless.
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This biographical graphic novel took a legend and humanized her. There is a lot to learn about Calamity Jane and this book made it that much more interesting to do so.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Pulp
  • Un printemps à Tchernobyl
  • Les grands espaces
  • Eden
  • The Incal
  • Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio
  • Irena Book One: Wartime Ghetto
  • Johnny Appleseed: Green Dreamer of the American Frontier
  • The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
  • Ceux qui t'aiment
  • Flood!: A Novel in Pictures
  • Seules à berlin
  • La Petite Dernière
  • Laika
  • In The Pines
  • Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis
  • Fever Year: The Killer Flu of 1918
  • Peau d'homme
See similar books…

Related Articles

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” So, this January, as we celebrate Martin Luther King...
24 likes · 10 comments