Graphic Memoirs from the Perpich Graphic Novel Collection
July 22, 2020
Graphic memoirs are a powerful and immersive way to experience another person’s life story. The combination of words and illustrations helps the narrative come alive in a unique way. Here is a selection of some of the fascinating graphic memoirs in Perpich Library’s graphic novel collection.
1. The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
2. Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe
Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes and grappling with how to come out to family and society. More than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
3. Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.
4. I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation by Natalie Nourigat
When artist Tally Nourigat left her life in Portland to move to Los Angeles and pursue a job in animation, she realized that despite her research, nothing truly prepared her for the wild world that awaited in the studios of Southern California. From grinding on storyboard test after storyboard test to getting a job at a major studio to searching for an apartment, this autobiographical how-to graphic novel explores the highest highs and lowest lows of pursuing a dream in animation.
5. I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib
Malaka Gharib’s triumphant graphic memoir brings to life her teenage antics and illuminates earnest questions about identity and culture, while providing thoughtful insight into the lives of modern immigrants and the generation of millennial children they raised. The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Malaka navigated her childhood chasing her parents’ ideals, learning to code-switch between her family’s Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid.
6. March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell
Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, the late Congressman John Lewis. March is an award-winning, vivid first-hand account of his lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
7. Poppies of Iraq by Brigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim
Brigitte Findakly’s nuanced tender chronicle of her relationship with her homeland Iraq, co-written and drawn by her husband, the acclaimed cartoonist Lewis Trondheim. In spare and elegant detail, they share memories of her middle class childhood touching on cultural practices, the education system, Saddam Hussein’s state control, and her family’s history as Orthodox Christians in the arab world. Poppies of Iraq is intimate and wide-ranging; the story of how one can become separated from one’s homeland and still feel intimately connected yet ultimately estranged.
8. Spinning by Tillie Walden
For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it. This Eisner Award winning graphic memoir captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.
9. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, & Harmony Becker
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard. This is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
10. Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey by GB Tran
GB Tran is a young Vietnamese American artist who grew up distant from (and largely indifferent to) his family’s history. Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. In telling his family’s story, GB finds his own place in this saga of hardship and heroism. Vietnamerica is a visually stunning portrait of survival, escape, and reinvention–and of the gift of the American immigrants’ dream, passed on to their children.
All books are available (or will soon be available) at the Perpich Library.