If you clinked on this blog post expecting to see popular classics like The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, or Watchmen, this isn’t that kind of list. If you’ve watched sequels, movies, and even purchased Funko Pops related to a graphic novel, is it still a must-read? We’re not saying don’t read the greats of the genre! We’re just saying that the genre can be used to tell stories beyond those of superheroes and galaxies far, far away. Graphic novels can tell true accounts of real people and events with the same respect and presence of mind as any award-winning novel or film. So, in that vein, here are three must-read graphic novels based on true stories.
Written by Craig Thompson, Blankets is a coming-of-age autobiography that tells the story of Thompson’s childhood in a devout Christian family. Thompson covers the relationship with his younger brother, his first love, and how his past informs his present and future. When it was released in 2003, it became an instant classic, claiming Time magazines #1 best comic of the year spot as well as the #8 spot for comic book of the decade.
The late Congressman and Civil Rights icon John Lewis understood the power of the comic book medium enough to collaborate with writer Andrew Aydin and award-winning artist Nate Powell to create the graphic memoir, March. March spans Lewis’s life from his childhood in rural Alabama, to being one of “The Big Six” who coordinated the 1963 march on Washington, D.C., culminating in Martin Luther King Jr.’s pivotal “I Have a Dream'' speech, to witnessing the inauguration of the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama.
They Called Us Enemy
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the West Coast was rounded up and shipped to one of 10 "relocation centers." Which is basically a nicer way of saying “internment camps.” George Takei, who would grow up to play the iconic Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek TV series and subsequent film, was one of the thousands of Japanese-American citizens who was forcibly relocated to one of these internment camps. They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years growing up under legalized racism, and how his journey informs what it means to love your country, even when it doesn’t love you back.
If you’re looking for more good reads, be sure to check out the Lux on Main blog.