Have you guys ever read graphic novels? They're full-length comic strips for grown-ups that often tell hilarious and touching stories. They're entertaining and compelling--it's almost like reading a movie. And you'll notice clever little things in the pictures that add to the story (like a flirty sideways glance or a suspicious bead of sweat). Here are my five favorites...
1. Ghost World, above, follows the adventures of two moody teenage girls, Enid and Becky, after high-school graduation, as they grow up and drift apart. (Did you see the film?) I find it mindblowing how a middle-aged male cartoonist--the hilarious Dan Clowes--managed to portray two listless young women so realistically. (He nailed it.) Ghost World won approximately one million awards for being the best graphic novel ever.
2. French Milk is a funny memoir of a 22-year-old's six-week stay in Paris with her mother--complete with drawings of croissants, striped shirts, the Eiffel Towel and some crankiness (which just makes her more charming). Really sweet to see the mother-daughter relationship.
3. Persepolis tells the story of the author's childhood under the Islamic Revolution. Her neighbors' homes are bombed, and her once-wealthy parents now struggle to educate her. Her father considers fleeing to America, but then asks to his wife, "I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?" As she grows up, the girl's rebellious streak puts her in danger. Touching that the story is told through a child's eyes.
4. Shortcomings follows Ben, a cynical Japanese-American guy in his twenties, on his search for contentment--and the perfect girl. He's kind of a jerk but you grow to love him, or, at least, understand him. Fascinating insight into a certain type of male mind. (The genius author Adrian Tomine also illustrates for the New Yorker; I once spotted him in a record store! I creepily trailed him around but was too shy to say hello.)
5. Cancer Vixen has a scary cover, but I promise you, this book is a-maz-ing. (Even my manly brother-in-law was obsessed with it.) Written by a New Yorker and Glamour cartoonist, the novel tells Marisa's true story of finding a lump in her breast right after meeting the love of her life. This book made me laugh out loud and shed tears, and I couldn't put it town.
Have you ever read graphic novels? Do you have any favorites?
P.S. Ten best documentaries and my favorite book of all time.