Committed: My Top 10 Weird Biographical Comics
6. The Fifth Beatle – The Brian Epstein Story
Written by Vivek J. Tiwary
Art by Andrew C. Robinson with Kyle Baker
Published by DarkHorse
A story of Brian Epstein’s journey with the Beatles, and his drive to share them with the world. Covering both the man and his work, this massive tome rewrites pop music history and gives us another hero. Sumptuous art by Robinson and Baker creates an expressive mood throughout this revealing book. As Tiwary reveals Epstein’s story we’re drawn into his world and enveloped by the strange experiences which unfold.
7. 566 Frames
By Dennis Wojda
Published by Borderline Press
In 2010 Wojda created an experiment to document his life in the space of one year, drawing one frame a day in a kind of stream of consciousness. As the story developed it encompassed far more than a single year, expanding to 566 frames, (hence the title). Combining familial anecdotes with his own fractured memories creates a wonderfully organic glimpse directly into narrators life, and those of his ancestors too. Darting back and forth across time and space the book is rich with emotionally communicative imagery. Wojda’s story is delightfully warm and alive, sweeping the reader along in his dreamlike tales spanning decades and traveling to Russia, Poland, and Sweden.
8. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
By Marjane Satrapi
Published by Pantheon Books
Documenting a young girl’s life in Iran as the war with Iraq impacted every aspect of her life, Marjane Satrapi offers a rare first-person perspective of a civilian growing up during a war. From the time when she first begins to observe the changing laws which are increasingly impacting her life, to her day-to-day experiences of the Islamic revolution, Persepolis is a disarmingly revealing portrait of a small child’s life with her family in a time of war. The stark, boldly drawn black and white art offers a strength and solidity which is the core of this little girls’ experiences, as the world outside her attempts to draw her into this monochrome view of right and wrong. Intelligent and brave, Satrapi is a witness, allowing us a wealth of insights and experiences we would otherwise never be privy to.
9. Freud – An Illustrated Biography
Written by Corinne Maier
Art by Anne Simon
Published by NoBrow Ltd
A concise, slim volume, this book cuts right to the heart of the matter without any hesitation (much like the man himself). Using a first person narrative to tell Freud’s oddball story with humor and affection, psychoanalyst; Corinne Maier presents his initial inspirations, discoveries, and journey of discovery. The indispensable illustrations of Anne Simon allow humorous insights into the strangely surreal inner world of Freud’s narrative. Documenting the many struggles to establish his revolutionary theories, we’re allowed a very human glimpse into the life of a founder of modern psychoanalysis. Deftly told, Maier and Simon play endlessly with the medium in a very restrained way, allowing the idiosyncrasies of Freud’s life to dominate.
10. Island of Memory (Wild Man – The Natural History of Georg Wilhelm Steller. Volume One)
By T Edward Bak
Published by Floating World Comics
The eerie and evocative tale of a Bavarian naturalist who traveled from imperial St Petersberg through Siberia across the North Pacific to Alaska in the 18th century. Volume one of his odd memoirs is an intriguing mixture of the terrible, frozen conditions of his mission, interspersed with his own escape into the comforting memories of his dramatic, civilized life in St Petersberg. Bak uses black and white to depict Stallar’s brutal, frozen journey, contrasting it with rich color pages to convey the lush exuberance of his life in St Petersburg and the botanical discoveries which reveal themselves like gems in the harsh wilderness. The art dominates the story, in a style reminiscent of classic German expressionist woodcuts, which seems radically appropriate to the mood of Stellar’s journey into darkness. As volume one of a story which presents the seeds of something wild, I can’t wait to see where Bak takes us next.