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Bookbag

Graphic

A collection of new comics that add gravitas to illustrated text.

Book Cover It was not too long ago (that's in historical time, not 24/7 time) that comics, along with blue jeans and rock and roll, were somehow considered--by anxious parents and the usual whack jobs--to be contributors to juvenile delinquency. It was just one of the great panics of the allegedly idyllic Eisenhower years (others included nuclear devastation, miscegenation, and communist conspiracies--to which we owe the slogan, "Better Dead than Red"--and so forth). By the '60s, parents and other authorities had other worries and so-called comics, in the nimble hands of Jules Feiffer, Robert Crumb, Edward Gorey, Gahan Wilson, and a host of others, took on a more socially relevant turn. With Art Speigelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus, illustrated narratives were finally legitimized--leading to the designation "graphic novel."

In recent months, A People's History of American Empire and Waltz With Bashir have continued to add gravitas to the illustrated text. Now comes Nelson Mandela: The Authorized Comic Book by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, illustrated by Umlando Wezithombe (W.W. Norton). This comic (and biography) of Mandela's life adds to his published memoir Long Road to Freedom, with newly recovered archival information and fresh interviews.

Paul Buhle, Brown University mentor, who guided the graphization of Howard Zinn's seminal work, teams with Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) on Studs Terkel's Working: A Graphic Adaptation (New Press) to adapt Studs Terkel's celebrated documentation of the American worker's ethos.

French graphic novelist Emmanuel Guibert brings us The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan With Doctors Without Borders (First Second), which presents a humanitarian mission to 1980s Afghanistan through the reportage of the late Didier Lefèvre, a revered war correspondent and winner of all manner of international awards. It has well-known book critic and U.N.H.C.R. Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie extolling:
"An unflinching and gripping photographic memoir, The Photographer takes you on a breathtaking journey through the best and worst humanity has to offer in times of war. Turning its pages, the reader begins to understand what it means to lose everything as a refugee of war, to cross mountains to help someone you never met, to feel the intense responsibility of being the only one able to capture the last moments of a child's stolen life. Suddenly Afghanistan, a distant land, a foreign culture, a courageous and resilient people seem closer, more familiar--more human. I love this book."
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