The past couple years have been great for the graphic novel. The genre is ripe for young artists willing to experiment, to push boundaries, to mold the tradition into their own vision. With continued exposure and recognition from ‘old guard’ traditionalists, 2012 promises to be another stellar year for the graphic novel and comic serial. Here’s a look ahead.
· First up is Habibi by Craig Thompson. Thompson broke into the scene with his debut Blankets , a deeply personal and celebrated autobiography. With Habibi , Thompson turns his focus to politics and social strictures in the Middle East. The art is brilliantly detailed and the story captivates.
· Daytripper (by ‘F’) seems perfectly suited for the graphic novel format. Part magical realism, part existential quandary, F’s elegiac art is simultaneously childhood nostalgic and a surreal hallucination.
· Author Jim Ottiviani had somewhat of a herculean task in formatting a biography into a graphic novel but perhaps even more so with capturing the freewheeling, enigmatic spirit of physicist Richard Feynman with just pen and paper. Feynman is not only educational, but offers an outside the box view at one of the most puzzling and iconoclastic scientists of the 20th century.
· Perhaps taking a cue from Satrapi’s Persepolis , Marzi offers a similar perspective: A young girl growing up in a culture much different than ours. While I think it unfair to over generalize and hamper the experience described as simply ‘impoverished’ or ‘restrictive’, Marzi does well to offer a painted picture of growing up in communist Poland.
· And now for something completely different…allow me to introduce to you Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire. Post-apocalyptic wasteland that is…Nebraska?!?! Check. A deer-human hybrid? Check. Cults and militias? Check. Odd as it sounds, Lemire’s willingness to experiment with form and pictures is quite refreshing and the graphic novel genre is better for it.
Salon.com has a wonderful spotlight on other forthcoming graphic novels if these titles don’t satisfy your itch. Also, be on the lookout for Tom Neely’s perverse vision of a man’s devolving marriage in The Wolf.