Biographical comics

For those that only know comics as a source of entertainment for children, be sure to look into serious graphic novels like Maus and Persepolis. Comics are an excellent medium to tell a story in a personal manner. Telling a story in panels and quirky illustration can also serve as an easy approach to heavy or difficult subjects.

Maus is a biographical graphic novel by Art Spiegelman. It tells the story of the father of the artist, a Polish Jew, who lived in Poland during the Second World War. It deals with the war itself but also the long-term personal consequences for those that were in it. I believe it is a required read for first-year history students at the University of Amsterdam.

Art Spiegelman, Maus

One of my personal favorites is the book Achter de Kawat (Behind the Fence) by Charles Burki. Burki was interned on Java in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War. During his stay he kept a diary with illustrations and humorous notes, which he published when he returned to the Netherlands after the war. The illustrations depict the difficulties of daily life in the war camp, and the book is interesting from both historical and artistic perspective.

Charles Burki, Achter de Kawat

Introduction to cartoons and comics

In the wake of the tragedy in Paris of last week, there has been a lot of attention for comics and cartoons, especially as a medium to voice an opinion or tell a personal story.
Sarah McIntyre has written this nice introduction to drawing cartoons and comics. It includes answers to frequently asked questions, some cool project ideas and lots of examples from numerous web comics.

Summer read for motivation: Brick by Brick by Stephen McCranie

I have a hard time finding the motivation to finish my huge list of projects during the summer break.

I survived my first year of my masters studies and the summer holidays are finally here. After the exams in June, I desperately needed some downtime so I took a week off. But now, after a week of no deadlines, no obligations, only parties and days of leisurely strolling around the city, I find that it is very hard start working again. It’s not a lack of discipline, mind you — although I think the lack of deadlines certainly doesn’t help.

But something happened to me today when I found the website Doodle-alley by Stephen McCranie. The website contains an online book, “Brick by Brick”, that contains motivational essays and comics about being a creator, based on McCranie’s experience as a cartoon artist. I can definitely relate to the feelings and pitfalls described in the book and the comics are both well-drawn and inspirational. Read the the first chapter of Brick by Brick.

Goals are scary, a panel from Brick-by-Brick by Stephen McCranie
A panel from Brick-by-Brick by Stephen McCranie

I can recommend this book as a inspirational summer read that will also (hopefully) provide some motivation. I hope you will be as inspired and motivated by Brick-by-Brick as me. Enjoy!