Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Graphic Novels Off the Beaten Path

     I recently picked up two very different but equally satisfying graphic novels, both  of them completely outside of the superhero vein. Reading them back to back gave me a flavor of how different graphic novels can be from storyline to artwork. I first picked up Relish: My Life in the Kitchen , by Lucy Knisley, because anything having to do with food is a draw for me.  Lucy has written a story about herself and it proves to be funny, thoughtful and thoroughly charming.  The author is the daughter of established foodies: her mother is a chef, a pioneer in the farm to table movement and inspiration with her love of food culture.  Her father, a more distant and difficult character, is an appreciator of fine restaurant dining and helps to give Lucy an exposure to fantastic as well as disastrous restaurant dishes.  Sprinkled in amongst the stories of her relationship to food as she was growing up, are recipes such as Marinated Lamb, Mom's Pesto and Huevos Rancheros.  Whether you like to cook or not, you'll love reading about Lucy. 

   Native American Classics in the Graphic Classics series is actually a collection of several historic tales and poems about Native Americans.  Some were written in the 19th century and some in the early 20th century, and all by indigenous American writers.  The graphic art in this collection brings these timeless stories of loss, betrayal and change alive.  There are ten different illustrators of Native American heritage, each with a distinctive style ranging from the "cartooney" of old children's comics to a more picture book illustration style.  I could tell that the artists connected with these writers from the past and that they deeply feel the experience of their ancestors. Some of the stories have heart wrenching endings, some are sweet, some funny and some hopeful.  Take a look at this graphic novel if you went to get new insight into America, past and present.

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