Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel - 4 of 5 stars
Previews here: http://jessicaabel.com/out-on-the-wire/
Abel spent years talking to (fairly NPR-centric) audio storytellers--Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Planet Money, the Moth Radio Hour, Radio Diaries, & 99% Invisible. While her sources work in audio, she doesn't focus on audio-specific technique. She cleverly conveys her experts' advice via visual metaphor, evident in these panels from a chapter on "Story Structure"
Any kind of writer can benefit by learning how to prepare for productive interviews and survive the emotionally shattering process of detailed editing. If the comic book is inaccessible, there's an accompanying podcast:
IRMINA by Barbara Yelin 5 of 5 stars
This is an exquisite graphic novel. The art beautifully supports the gripping story of what it's like to be an extraordinary person who settles for everyday life. It's particularly relevant because the hero is a white German exchange student exploring Socialism in early 1930s Britain and falling in love with a Barbadian student. She eventually returns home and becomes the dutiful wife of an SS officer, then lives forty more years as a school secretary. The terror of Hitler's Germany was also the mundanity of everyday life for millions of women.
Preview at the publisher:
The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui - 4 of 5 stars
Intense, eloquent memoir exploring parent-child relationships: the author's own with her folks, and theirs with their parents. Delicate wash drawings evoke Thi Bui's birthplace, Vietnam, and the America she grew up in. Very sad.
Diabetes and Me by Challoner & Bertozzi - 2 of 5 stars
A Chinese Life by Li Kunwu & Phillipe Otié - 5 of 5 stars
Energetic personal history of a graphic artist born with the establishment of the People's Republic of China. His initial use of graphic talent was painting pictures of the Great Helmsman (Mao Zedong). His story continues through the Great Leap Forward (including widespread starvation and deforestation), the Cultural Revolution (he stops his education, along with an entire generation), the Army, Party membership, and then the confusing times when Chinese Socialism began to incorporate development as the primary goal. Li's French co-author guided the explanation of things Westerners would need explaining.
It was particularly fascinating for me because I spent three years as a doctrinaire member of an American splinter communist party whose every move was guided by the Chinese Line. Previews at the publisher's site:
VISION (volumes 1 & 2) by Tom King / Gabriel Hernandez Walta / Jordie Bellaire - 4 of 5 stars
This 12-episode run displays the horror of normality; lovely colors; just right creepy embodiment of "synthezoid" human/cyborg family settling down in the suburbs. Of course that doesn't go well: Why can't all Marvel comics be this interesting? Check out sample panels from the fabulous DW comics community, scans_daily:
Pure enjoyment, no education.