Nonfiction Comics of Note (first in a series)

I’ve asked several of my colleagues (fellow comics teachers and critics) to guest on our blog and share their recommendations for nonfiction—or, as the Eisner Awards judges say, reality-based—comics, whether autobiographical, biographical, historical, journalistic, political, scientific, analytical, instructional, or otherwise fact-based. This post will be in the first in a series of such guest spots.

My colleague and frequent writing collaborator Dr. Craig Fischer, who teaches film, comics, and cultural studies for the Department of English at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, will start us off. Craig reads and writes about a staggering variety of stuff, including diverse comics. When asked what ten nonfiction comics—apart from the ones already on our class syllabus—he would like to recommend, he responded with the following titles, links, and comments. Thanks, Craig!


Clan Apis

Jay Hosler, Clan Apis (1999). An inventive and joyous biography of a honeybee; a science lesson that goes down easy.

After the Snooter Alec: The Years Have Pants

Eddie Campbell, After the Snooter (2002). My favorite comics memoir: rollicking, transgressive and melancholic all at once. Available in Campbell’s omnibus Alec: The Years Have Pants.

Ironclad print

Dan Zettwoch, Ironclad (2003). A magnificent self-published zine chronicling the Civil War battles of the U-Boats Monitor and Merrimack.

Real Stuff collection

Dennis Eichhorn and various artists, Real Stuff (2004). Eichhorn is boorish, violent, and a blast to read, a comic book version of Charles Bukowski. Artists include Joe Sacco, Peter Bagge and Peter Kuper.

The Dvorak Zine

Alec Longstreth, Michael Cardiff and Gabriel Carleton-Barnes, The Dvorak Zine (2005). Charming homemade zine propaganda for the Dvorak keyboard arrangement.

Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators

Various, Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators (2005). Terrific artists from various countries offer up their takes on manga, steam baths, and other facets of Japanese culture.

Perfect Example

John Porcellino, Perfect Example (2005). Named after a Hüsker Dü song, Porcellino’s book is a minimalist evocation of what it was like to be a punk-alt kid in the mid-1980s.

Don't Go Where I Can't Follow

Anders Nilsen, Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow (2006). Through a mix of notes, photographs and drawings, Nilsen charts the death of his fiancée. Heartbreaking. [Just now re-released in a new edition! – CH]

Alan's War

Emmanuel Guibert and Alan Cope, Alan’s War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope (France, 1999; US 2008). Touching, elegantly drawn memoir of a WWII American solider—although much of the narrative focuses on his life after the war too. Watch Guibert draw with water here.

Sarah Stewart Taylor and Ben Towle, Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean (2010). All-ages, beautifully-drawn story of a meaningful stop-over in Earhart’s life.

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