Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | June 3, 2014

History can get graphic

Graphic novels and comics might have a silly reputation, but they can be powerful books that put a human face on serious, important historical events.  As a graphic novel fan, I think that they are a great way to bring history to life; they have a sense of rhythm and drama that can be hard for authors to achieve in other books.  Here are a few of my favorite graphic novels where history plays a major role:

Cover of John Lewis' March Marchby Congressman John Lewis, is a powerful book about his experiences in the civil rights movement.  NPR interviewed Lewis about the book, and about a 1957 comic book called The Montgomery Story, which inspired many in the movement.
 Cover of "Saints", by Gene Luen Yang Boxers and Saints make up a two-part series showing two sides of the Boxer Rebellion in the late 1890s.  Boxers follows the life of a Chinese boy who becomes a leader in the Boxer Rebellion, while Saints tells of a Chinese girl who converts to Christianity and is inspired by Joan of Arc to fight against the Boxers.  Gene Luen Yang’s artwork is simple, but powerful — this was an amazing way to learn about both sides of a historical event that I knew very little about before.
0375422307 Persepolis is a classic in the graphic novel canon.  It talks about the author’s experiences during the first Persian Gulf War, and was also made into an Academy Award-nominated 2007 movie.
9780316225816 Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a recent graphic novel with a very misleading title.  It’s not an encyclopedia, but rather a collection of stories told about a fictional “Early Earth,” which bear many resemblances to legends, Biblical stories, and the history of our own earth.  The art is quirky and beautiful, and this book makes a wonderful celebration of storytelling, tradition, and history.

~Jane

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