Restless by Joseph Kai is a graphic novel Set in Beirut, Lebanon, 30 years after the end of the civil war, and a few months before the disastrous explosion of August 2020. Samar, a young queer comic book artist, wanders between anguished dreams, childhood memories, sexual experiences, and Beirut’s alternative communities. This abstractly autobiographical story tells of the author’s anxiety over living in a complex city of changing colors and moods. Three powerful themes: art, sex, and political uprising, are interwoven in a compelling narrative and an otherwordly color palette
Unaccompanied: Stories of Brave Teenagers Seeking Asylum by Tracy White Street Noise Books, June 2023
Unaccompanied: Stories of Brave Teenagers Seeking Asylum, a graphic novel by Tracy White, tells the true stories of five brave teens fleeing their home countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guinea, on their own, traveling through unknown and unfriendly places, and ultimately crossing into the US to find refuge and seek asylum. Based on extensive interviews with teen refugees, lawyers, caseworkers, and activists, this book shines a light on five individual kids from among the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who enter the US each year. In stark black and white illustrations, she helps us understand why some young people would literally risk their lives to seek safety in the US. Each one of them has been backed into a corner where emigration to the US seems like their only hope.
In the photo comic The Last Gay Man on Earth, author Ype Driessen is a gay man living in Amsterdam with his boyfriend Nico. When asked by Nico to accompany him on a work trip to America, Ype must confront his deep fear of flying. While doing so, Ype finds he also has to come to terms with his social and sexual anxieties, his neurotic nature, and a serious case of imposter syndrome. What follows is a moving and deeply personal story, filled with humor as well as drama —surprising, honest, and unforgettable. Ype embarks on an adventure that leads him to his ultimate fantasy: being the last person on earth. Encouraged by a sentient robot vacuum cleaner called Chupi, he finds out what it really means to be true to yourself.
Hayley Gold’s graphic memoir Nervosa recognizes anorexia nervosa as an eating disorder. It is not a phase, a fad, or a choice. It is a debilitating illness, manifested in a distorted relationship with food, but which actually has more to do with issues of control. It is often a puzzle for doctors, therapists, parents, and friends. And so those who suffer from it are belittled, or tragically misunderstood, not only by society but by the healthcare system meant to treat it. Nervosa is a no-holds-barred, richly textured portrait of one young woman’s experience. In her vividly imagined retelling, Gold lays bare a callous medical system seemingly disinterested in the very patients it is supposed to treat and traces how her own life was irrevocably damaged by both the system and her own disorder, offering readers a remarkably candid exploration of the search for hope in the darkness.
Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth’s Diana: My Graphic Obsession made me realize that Diana holds a fairly firm place in my life experience. Having practically grown up with her, at least in news stories, I was surprised to have so many of Roth’s graphic renditions of famous photographs strike one memory chord after another. Most surprising is to see her life anew, through Roth’s insightful yet somewhat melancholy commentary, like the fact that Diana was only 16 years old when she first met Charles, who was then 29. Roth comments, “He was the very embodiment of charm. Standing next to him, Diana was just a child. His attention was overwhelming.”
The graphic memoir Look Again recounts Elizabeth Trembley’s experience, years ago, of walking her dogs in the woods and finding a dead body. Trauma can make truth hard to find. Have you ever experienced a terror, grief, or confusion so great that when you try to share it you can only find shattered images floating in darkness? You try over and over, but can’t tell the story, to yourself or to anyone else. Look Again presents six variations of the same event, seen through the different lenses caused by other life revelations. It explores the fragmenting nature of trauma by tracing the convoluted evolution of the author’s story, a process often experienced by trauma sufferers and their loved ones. Trembley is a Lambda Literary Award-winning mystery writer (pen name Josie Gordon) and memoirist who now tells her stories in comics. She has a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of Chicago and has taught college courses and public workshops on storytelling and comics. She currently works for the Sequential Artists Workshop.
Gabriel Ebensperger’s debut graphic novel, Gay Giant, is a coming-of-age and coming-to-terms-with-oneself story, showing readers what it feels like to grow up queer in a heteronormative society in the 1990s. Filled with pop-cultural touchstones from Cher to Laurie Anderson, Jurassic Park to My Little Pony, Ebensperger navigates both the joy and pain of puberty surrounded by ignorance and homophobia, the anxiety of casual hookups, and pressure to be more macho. How do you love yourself if you’ve learned so well to hate yourself? For all who’ve ever felt bizarre, damaged, or strange, Ebensperger asserts that all is full of love, and that true acceptance must come from within. Ebensperger lives by the sea in Chile and works as an illustrator, a graphic designer, and an art director. His work has been featured in several Chilean and international publications.
In this debut graphic memoir, What is Home, Mum?, Sabba Khan explores race, gender, and class in a compelling personal narrative creating a strong feminist message of self-reflection and empowerment. As a second-generation Pakistani immigrant living in East London, Khan paints a vivid snapshot of contemporary British Asian life and investigates the complex shifts experienced by different generations within immigrant communities. Khan is a visual artist, graphic novelist, and architectural designer. She is an advocate for increasing working-class black and brown representation in the arts and publishing as well as in architecture and construction. Her work is included in the Eisner award-winning graphic anthology Drawing Power.