I love graphic novels and memoirs, and I’ve been having fun enjoying the ones that have come up on my TBR lately. They’re a quick read, but the art makes the story really come alive. I find it difficult to review them, though; I’m not much on the technical parts of art, so I can’t really discuss those, and it feels like a huge omission to leave that out. But I was able to grab a few graphic novels from the library lately, and I figured I’d give them a quick mention here.
First up is the creepy true story, Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? by Harold Schechter and Eric Powell (Albatross Funnybooks, 2021). Most of us are familiar with the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho; the character Norman Bates and his crimes were based on Ed Gein, a native of Plainfield, Wisconsin. His crimes changed the face of American horror forever; in the years before Gein’s crimes were discovered, scary movies in the US usually centered around creatures from other planets. Gein’s house of horrors launched the birth of slasher films, an era that’s still ongoing.
Schechter and Powell tell the story of Ed Gein’s life: his abusive, controlling, overpowering, hyper-religious mother, who worked hard to create him exactly how she wanted him; his inability to become a fully independent adult; the town’s basic acceptance of the man they considered a little odd; the shocking discovery of what he’d been doing in that house all those years after his mother had died. Even if you think you know the full story, odds are there’s something in here you didn’t, and the two authors base their telling almost entirely on primary sources. This is creepy, but fascinating!
Next up, It’s All Absolutely Fine by Ruby Elliot (Orion, 2016). A funny book about depression? A funny illustrated book about depression? Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??? It exists, and it’s so worth the read.
Ruby Elliot has struggled for years with depression, the kind that makes it hard to even get up off the crumb-filled couch you have your face mashed into. The kind where your brain is constantly telling you what a worthless toad you are, so why bother. And in this graphic memoir, she illustrates exactly what her depression looks and feels like. And somehow, she manages to not only do it, but do it with a sense of humor.
I laughed out loud so many times, both from genuinely finding Ms. Elliot’s writing and illustrations funny, and because she just gets it so well. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety my whole life, and I was able to relate to so much of this book. It was a truly enjoyable read and a gentle, yet strong treatment of what’s normally a tough subject.
And then there’s Trashed by Derf Backderf (Harry N. Abrams, 2015). I really enjoyed Backderf’s My Friend Dahmer, and this was no different. While this graphic novel is indeed fiction, it’s based on his experiences as a garbageman. The story follows a young man who’s been hired on with his city’s sanitation department and gets into all aspects of the job (how disgusting it is, what complete jerks the ‘customers’ are, the pranks and hijinks between the workers). Interspersed with the story are facts and information about trash, trash collection, and the massive problem that is trash, both in the US and around the world. Totally enjoyable read that will make you think about not only what you dispose of, but HOW you dispose of it.
And that’s it! What are some great graphic novels that you’ve read recently???