MacNaughton’s “Meanwhile”

Graphic journalist Wendy MacNaughton has launched an illustrated column at the New York Times. It’s a new edition of what has appeared in the totally beautiful California Sunday magazine as well as in her 2014 book, Meanwhile in San Francisco.

Wendy MacNaughton NYT graphic journalism

Every Sunday in the Times‘ Business section, MacNaughton plans to “explore the rich story behind an everyday object, familiar place or uncelebrated face — and the effect on our lives, the economy, policy, the environment and more.” Her ink and watercolor NYT debut looks at tallboy beer cans. We liked seeing MacNaughton pop up recently on food writer and chef Samin Nosrat’s very warm and inviting Netflix show.

Documenting situations otherwise unknown

In many cases where photographing or filming refugees has been inappropriate, invasive, or endangered their safety, illustrators are able to document situations and events that may otherwise have remained unknown. A reportage illustrator such as Nick Ellwood can draw portraits of those who might not want to be identified to give us a sense of people that he met in Calais. Many of the reportage illustrators in the exhibition have also said that using the medium of drawing allowed them to engage with people in ways that a camera would not. The much more personal, tactile quality of drawing and the time it takes to create allowed them to get to know their subjects and listen to their stories.

Curator Katie Nairne at the House of Illustration in London (via Creative Review) on current exhibit Journeys Drawn: Illustration from the Refugee Crisis. The show includes the work of graphic journalist Olivier Kugler, who reports from lesser-covered Syrian refugee camps. I wrote about Kugler’s work for Hyperallergic in September.

Can I find that again?

m dean comics paris review

The Paris Review publishes an excerpt of I Am Young, NYC illustrator and cartoonist M. Dean’s new collection of comics. The book’s publisher, Fantagraphics, describes I Am Young as being “tied together by one central narrative about two teenagers who meet and fall in love after a Beatles concert in 1964.”

At NPR Books, critic Etelka Lehoczky writes about I Am Young‘s focus on “sentimentality,” which is “practically the only driver of these stories.” From Lehoczky:

The most affecting story in I Am Young isn’t about romantic love, but about friendship. High-school seniors Kennedy and Rhea both dig Tom Jones and want to be novelists someday. Kennedy is “my very good friend,” Rhea declares solemnly. Instead of gossiping about boys, Kennedy and Rhea act out scenes from Hamlet and read Camus. Dean perfectly captures the anxious sense of portent common to brainy teenagers in every decade. The friends’ greatest sources of tension are philosophical: They disagree about whether graduation is a significant milestone, whether Robert Redford is “plain” and whether there are such things as happy endings in life. “Maybe, even if she doesn’t admit it, Kennedy is actually happiest knowing there are no real answers,” Rhea says. The question is as vitally important to her as it is to every teenager with a reflective bent.

Read the whole review at NPR Books. See more of M. Dean’s illustration work here.


Liana Finck on Longform

Cartoonist Liana Finck, who has a comic-based advice column at The New Yorker and a new graphic memoir out called Passing for Human, is interviewed on one of the only podcasts I regularly listen to. On the Longform Podcast, Finck talked about Passing for Human, which took her six years to produce before she looked for an editor. It began as a comics adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s The Real Life of Sebastian Knight before it became clear that it should be a memoir:

By the time I heard from Nabokov’s estate that I wasn’t allowed to do that, I was maybe very five hard-worked pages in, so I slowly started changing that into fiction that was just based on The Real Life of Sebastian Knight. It turned the two brothers…one is a brilliant writer who has died and the other one is telling his story; it takes place in, I don’t know, 1930 or something…and I changed those to two sisters who were growing up in the 80s, and I set it in my childhood house. And that’s how it became a memoir.

Listen to the whole episode here, and see a recent comic from Finck at Catapult.

Note: I love the Longform Podcast. The interviews, which are usually conducted with a writer of nonfiction—such as a contracted magazine writer or a reporter—about the path to said writing job, the way that she/he tells a story, etc., can be really riveting.