Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Graphic Novels

I don't profess to know anything about graphic novels.

I read the entire set of Akira in my teens, 'cause hey, my friend was cool and he read them. (I'm original like that.) Then I read Maus some time later.

In the past few months I've read both American Widow by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi and Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto.

American Widow is Alisa Torres' story of her life after 9/11. Her husband was on his second day of his new job at Cantor Fitzgerald and she was pregnant with their first child. Cancer Vixen also recounts joy interrupted when three weeks before her wedding, cartoonist Marisa Acocella found a lump in her breast. Both women have expressed these experiences via incredibly powerful tellings of very personal and painful stories. Torres and Choi's story uses more silence and less humour. Marchetto's tone is just as raw, but more conversational, and often funny too. Both of them transported me fully into their lives and left me better for it.

I feel like sometimes talking about "women's stories" actually does them (us?) a disservice, by segregating them rather than allowing them to be stories in the marketplace, but these two graphic novels are really women's stories, told by women from their own experiences in their own voices. The emotional intensity, honesty, and fantastic art, however, will appeal to everyone.

Now to put Marjane Satrapi's books on hold at the library.

New York Times book review on American Widow here.

1 comment:

Marla said...

You know, I have to admit to a prejudice against graphic novels. It comes from too many science fiction novels where one of the hallmarks of the future was widespread illiteracy, and information was disseminated largely through comic books. It's hard for me to see them as a legitimate art form, and not a sad substitute for "real" writing (or "real" art, for that matter).

But... having read Persepolis, I know I have to revise my opinion. This is not the work of someone who couldn't express herself in another manner; she chose this particular medium.

I'd better put that on my list—try some more graphic novels and at least have a better-informed opinion about them.