On Reading Graphic Novels discussion

Politics, Society and Graphic Novels

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message 1: by Alien (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
Several have already been mentioned or are well known like Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Johnny Jihad, etc. but can you guys give me names of other graphic novels that feature a strong social or political message. Books that not only entertain but try to speak in some depth about society today or political systems? Thanks!

message 2: by Alexandra (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Alexandra I would recommend DMZ by Brian Wood. It's still coming out monthly from Vertigo, but they also have two graphic novels out, collecting the first 12 issues or something like that.

It's set in the not-too-distant future, in an America that has seen the break out of another Civil War. Matty, the main character, starts off as a photo-journalism intern, and ends up as the only non-embedded journalist in the de-militarized zone: Manhattan Island.

Lots of stuff that mirrors current world situations, but Wood does a really good job of not simplifying the war. There are no good or bad guys, just people fighting for what they believe in--and people getting caught in between.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Give Me Liberty. Avoid like the plague the sequel Martha Washington Goes to War.

The One.

message 4: by Don (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:38AM) (new)

Don (donfoolery) | 4 comments Brian Wood's Channel Zero is a good one, depicting what might happen when special interests finally take control of all media.

message 5: by Alien (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:39AM) (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
Wow! Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm definitely going to check these out. I think Graphic novels are well suited to making socio-political commentary/analysis while remaining entertaining...some of the number one complaints about writing of this sort is how detached and abstract it can get but with the visual element, I think it is anything but. What do you think?

message 6: by Corinne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Corinne (kuhrin) This might not be what you're looking for, but Macedonia(it just came out, by Harvey Pekar) is about the peace-building process and covers an interesting history of the Balkans, and Fax from Serajevo is about the war in Bosnia. Joe Kubert has done a few graphic novels about political issues, but Fax is the only one I've read thus far.

Also, I've heard really good things about Maus (Art Spiegelman).

message 7: by Naomi (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:41AM) (new)

Naomi (gnomesb) this doesn't really count as political in the sense of social critique but I thoroughly enjoyed Larry Gonick's 'Cartoon History' series (Cartoon history of the universe, cartoon history of America, chemistry, physics etc). He was not afraid of a political comment or two along the way.

message 8: by Nicole (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:42AM) (new)

Nicole Willson | 1 comments Chobits raises interesting questions about technology and society since it's main characters are computers that look, feel and can behave like humans.

message 9: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Brought to Light is an Eclipse GN from the 80's that is a compilation of 2 political pieces, one is Moore and Sienkiwicz, forget the other. Louis Riel by Chester Brown is a political biography of a 19th century Canadian dissident. And all of Joe Sacco's reportage is explicitly political in nature.

message 10: by Brandon (new)

Brandon | 5 comments Persepolis would be another choice...

message 11: by Lara (new)

Lara Messersmith-Glavin (knifemaker) | 1 comments The "Maus" series by Art Spiegelman is certainly a classic.

One of my favorites is "Palestine," by Joe Sacco, and with an introduction by Edward Said. It's generally regarded as an important work of investigative journalism in any genre.

Here's a link to a Wiki entry on it: backgroundinfo

message 12: by Joe (new)

Joe (trueborn29) | 1 comments And of course you can't forget Transmetropolitan. Writing, biting social commentary and creative cursing that makes nuns cry.

message 13: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Scelza (bigred) | 1 comments i just perused through, might have missed it but persepolis 1 and 2 are great choices.

message 14: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacy_g_k) | 2 comments As other members have mentioned, Persepolis and Maus are great. Last month I read Barefoot Gen, which was done by a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima. He describes how the Japanese were degraded by their own government as well as histosrical events leading up to the bombing.

message 15: by Allen (new)

Allen Wright I & Worst (Audiovore) | 1 comments I read the first half of Maus in my 10th grade lit class. It was good, always ment to read the second half, but haven't gotten around to it.

message 16: by Alien (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
Thank you everyone for a number of very solid recommendations. I hope we can continue to add to this list. Meanwhile, I'm going to go pick up a copy of Palestine from my local library. Not sure if I mentioned it on this thread or not but last summer I read Johnny Jihad. It's a compelling read and I'd definitely recommend it.

message 17: by le bricoleur (last edited May 19, 2008 08:22PM) (new)

le bricoleur Boyle (le_bricoleur) | 8 comments I haven't had a chance to read Sarah Glidden's "How to Understand Israel in 60 Days of Less" but it may be of interest to you.

You may have a hard time finding it. It's a mini comic, so most bookstores won't carry it. I picked it up in Brooklyn at an good alternative comix shop called Rocketship.

here's in the author's email address: sarahglibben@gmail.com

and the publisher's web address:

Also, if you like Maus, or are looking for something a little more contemporary, you should read Art Spiegelman's "In the Shadow of No Towers."

This oversized book, like the oversized fallen towers of the World Trade Center, is a collection of Spiegelman's reflections on the attacks of September 11th.

message 18: by Freyya (last edited May 20, 2008 07:48AM) (new)

Freyya Quinn (freyquency) | 1 comments Buddha volumes 1-8 are phenomenal.

Buddha Volume Tezuka

message 19: by Alexander (new)

Alexander | 5 comments One of the strongest I can think of is Pyongyang, by Guy Delisle, about his stay in North Korea during an animation project he oversaw there. I found it very interesting to consider that much of what we see in animated film is done there, in Pyongyang, because animators are extremely inexpensive there. Part of what's so beautiful about the book is the pictures Delisle draws of a society that forbids photography by foreigners, especially candids, but not drawing, and that in fact makes a great deal of money off of animation.

I'm not sure if this fits either, but Blue Pills, by Frederik Peeters, is my favorite new book this year (and I blurbed it, actually). This was out in French for a while but is newly translated into English, and tells his story of falling in love with a woman who is living with HIV, and who has a son who also has the virus. He tells the story really beautifully, avoiding the many maudlin traps. It's a great book for how it might help many people who are thinking of having a relationship across the serostatus divide.

In a very quiet way, the more I think of them, the more The Rabbi's Cat, vols. 1 & 2, seem to me to be very subversive books, challenging just about everything they touch on, but with humor and affection, and a rich mix of theology, philosophy and just plain good storytelling. The covers in the US make them seem like children's books, but they're anything but.

Also, Manu Larcenet's Ordinary Victories, also in translation, tells the story of a photographer who seeks to photograph the vanishing shipyards of his home town in France, and the people who work in them, all while managing his father's increasing senility, and his own struggle to be an artist. The book is about industrialization's impact on a town when it is about to pull up roots and leave, and it's also about trying to be an artist when the rewards seem few and far between.

message 20: by le bricoleur (new)

le bricoleur Boyle (le_bricoleur) | 8 comments I second the vote for Blue Pills.

message 21: by Brandon (new)

Brandon | 5 comments I just read the first two volumes of DMZ... great story... The story told from the intern's point of view is nice... I'd recommend it, but it does have some language, so be careful if that offends :D

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