Tag: comics

Nothing would ever be the same again

For my debut at The Los Angeles Times (!), I wrote about cartoonist Brian Fies’s graphic account of losing his home in the 2017 California wildfires. A Fire Story is his chronicling, in comics, of life during and after the second-most destructive wildfire in the state’s history:

Following a tense sequence that has the cartoonist and his wife springing from bed and frantically hauling belongings out to their driveway and the palpable heartbreak that materializes later when Fies scouts out their rubble-strewn streets, A Fire Story shares lesser-broadcast hardships as well as how quickly wildfire victims are expected to process a frenzied cycle of emotions.

A drawn five-key keychain has three keys that “don’t do anything anymore,” explains Fies in a caption. Homes elsewhere are reduced to wholly blacked-out, cross-hatched blots on stretches of sepia-toned blocks that look like a war zone, where neighbors comb the charred ruins of their houses’ foundations. Discussions with utility companies prove pointless. A tally of long-gone items on a single-panel page is slugged “Things I Will Never See Again.” But a vulnerable Fies doesn’t grieve alone—the careful accounting here culminates in what’s better described as a work of comics journalism than it is autobiography.

Read my whole piece at The Los Angeles Times.

 

A comic shaped by trauma

As I mentioned on Twitter in October, I would totally read a longform magazine piece from cartoonist and writer Michael Kupperman about making All the Answers, his graphic memoir that was published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery 13 in 2018. A book that was initially projected to be an examination of his father Joel’s life as a famous child prodigy, All the Answers became something wholly different after Kupperman discovered some hidden scrapbooks at his parents’ Connecticut home. During a recent, heavily illustrated talk at Google, the cartoonist discussed how finding these scrapbooks meant that he would be creating a memoir about his relationship with his father and how Joel’s past had affected that relationship.

Hyperallergic’s year in comics

Outside of emailing with friends or some argumentative text messages, I don’t really do the “Best of” thing. I’ll probably post “the best” writing that I’ve read here at my site as I’ve done in years past, but I never really feel as if I’ve consumed enough of anything over the course of a year (other than pizza) to tell you that one thing is better than the other. I can always tell you that I liked something, so there’s that, right? That said, it was nice to have been asked to contribute to Hyperallergic’s “Best of 2018: The Top Ten Graphic Novels,” particularly alongside the brilliant writers involved. Here’s critic Dan Schindel:

Comics writers and artists are often better equipped to tackle contemporary events and issues before anyone working in any other medium, and many graphic novels that came out this year demonstrate this perfectly. Both the anxiety and tentative sense of possibility that comes from living in deteriorating liberal democracies, climate change, and changing paradigms around sex and gender are all on display in everything from superhero series to indie comics. All these ideas and much more are explored in these titles, which represent some of the most innovative art and sharpest writing to be found in 2018.

My selection was Michael Kupperman’s All the Answers. I wrote at length about All the Answers earlier this year and went to Parsons recently to see Kupperman talk about his very moving memoir. It’s worth a read.

See the whole Hyperallergic feature here. All the writing I’ve done at Hyperallergic is collected here, and it is inclusive of my 2018 work.