If you still think that comic books are only for nerdy folks fanatical about superheroes, you’re missing a vivacious genre diversity of comics and its new age sibling graphic novels. Creative authors and illustrators are toying and experimenting with the stupendous possibilities of sequential art and a new genus of graphic memoirs and graphic biographies is finding its own intimate fan base and growing at a competent pace. Put simply, graphic memoirs are comics or sequential art that tell an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical story. Graphic biographies are distinct from memoirs for the fact that the author and the illustrator are different from the protagonist. Since they are the sub-genre of graphic novels and comics in general, they are also referred to as ‘non-fiction graphic novels’.
This article suggests five Graphic-based biographies for comic lovers and readers who wish to explore the beauty of sequential art from a diverse range of arts, sports, politics etc. Find a suggestion of five Graphic memoirs in the second part of this blog.
Fedegraphica: A Graphic Biography of the Genius of Roger Federer
The combination of beautiful infographics and a lustrous career story makes this biography unique in its presentation. Published in 2016 by Aurum Press, this graphic biography explores the career of Roger Federer, one of the sport’s most iconic and popular figures and the world’s greatest tennis player of all time as recognized by many. Mark Hodgkinson, the author deserves kudos for illuminating the sheer brilliance of Roger Federer through infographics alongside stunning photography, stories, and analysis from those who have played, watched and admired him.
Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg
This exquisitely drawn graphic biography throws light to an extraordinary life of the legendary figure of the political left and one of the foremost minds in the canon of revolutionary socialist thought, Rosa Luxemburg. Even though the publishers claim this as a ‘fictional representation of factual events’, the events, words, and deeds of her life and time are presented seriously, without trivialization. The events of her fabulous life, both intimate and public are given a memorable treatment, portrayed in vivid graphics making the reading experience engaging and exciting. Conceived by writer-artist Kate Evans, this book was published in 2015 by Verso.
Nelson Mandela: The Unconquerable Soul
True justice to the legendary life of this strong man who fought for equality and freedom, makes this graphic novel a class apart. The story narrates Mandela’s childhood, his simple dreams as a young man growing up in a small South African village but even a simple dream of freedom was not a reality for him being a black man. His evolution as an influential leader and his great contributions to fighting apartheid in South Africa is stunningly portrayed by Writer- Illustrator Duo, Lewis Helfand and Sankha Banerjee. This hardcover is a part of the graphic biography series published by Campfire which introduces readers to the lives of a range of real-life heroes.
Vincent: Art Masters Series
Barbara Stok who is well known for her candid graphic biographies has pulled off a superb graphic novel giving the reader an overview of Vincent Van Gogh’s life- from his inner workings as an artist to the touching letters he wrote to his brother- Theo. The novel does not cover the entire life of Van Gogh but sheds light on his intense artistic endeavor during the time he moved to Provence in Southern France. The inventive artworks are simple , effective and keep away the usual visual cliches and bring its subject into a sharp and sympathetic focus. This book is part of the Art Masters Series published by Self Made Hero about legendary artists.
Michael Jackson Graphic Biography
The Graphic biography series by Saddleback Educational Publishing features powerful role models in fast-paced, easy to read 32-page books primarily targeting students. A short bio of Michael Jackson illustrated in simple graphics offers a variety of rich primary and secondary source to support teaching in classrooms. The series includes 23 historical figures in America who lead their way into new territories, pursued scientific discoveries, battled injustice and broke down artistic barriers and is an interesting and informative read not just for the students, but adults as well. Graphic biographies in classrooms have proven successful for struggling readers.