Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco (2009)
How can we take time to learn from the past during a dire and urgent emergency? As both war journalist and cartoonist, Sacco depicts the bleak existence of Palestinians living in the Gaza strip with incredible skill. He documents his interviews and the situation in contemporary Gaza while trying to piece together the events of a massacre in 1956.
The entire investigative tale, with its demolished homes and weathered inhabitants, is illustrated in jaw-dropping, painstaking detail. Sacco captures the omnipresent grief, pain and anger, along with occasional moments of humanity and levity.
Read the New York Times review and watch the author interview.
Over 400 pages long, this is not a mere comic book. This is a hefty, eye-opening read that will tug at your heart.
Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins (1998)
Michael O’ Sullivan is a soldier who served in the U.S. Army during WWI. During Prohibition, O’Sullivan provides for his family by working as a ruthless but honorable enforcer for the Looney crime family. His nickname is “The Angel of Death.” When O’ Sullivan’s oldest boy, Michael, witnesses a murder committed by the crime boss and his son, the Looney family kills O’Sullivan’s wife and other son. But Sr. and Jr. O’ Sullivan escape, hitting the road to Perdition, Kansas, where the boy’s aunt and uncle live. Along the way, “The Angel of Death” exacts his revenge on the Looneys.
The graphic novel is stylishly drawn by the English artist Richard Piers Rayner in black and white Noir style, which suits the O’Sullivans’ travels through the Depression-era Midwest. The graphic novel was made into a movie by the same name. There is more going on than just the usual violence; it is a story about fathers and sons, a familiar story of family, loss and revenge.
Check out the reviews at Amazon.com and read a Time magazine article about the graphic novel.
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2003)
Marjane’s memoir of her years in Tehran from ages six to fourteen is a page-turning history of the events she witnesses. Her upper class liberal parents (she is the great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor) demonstrate against the Shah. They are bitterly disappointed when the new republic is overtaken by the fundamentalist Islamic revolution. Despite the imprisonment and execution of friends and family members, her parents remain in Iran. The war with Iraq brings yet more tragedies. The book ends with her parents sending the fourteen year old Marjane to school in Germany. The author’s black and white illustrations enhance the text. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return continues the story. In 2007, the award-winning animated film version of Persepolis was released.
Read reviews in TIME Magazine and the New York Times. Go to the publisher’s website for more about the book, to view excerpts, and to learn about Satrapi’s inspiration and writing process.