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  • Writer's pictureTrusty Henchman

New & Upcoming Comics Spotlight: Non-Fiction

This batch features a focus on Jazz musician Charles Mingus, a duo narrative about 18th-century painter Thomas Girtin, a pair of graphic memoirs, and the story of Tsai Kun-lin in a graphic novel that lays bare the history of Taiwan.



(W) Flavio Massaruto (A) Squaz

Bass player and pianist, composer and band leader, Charles Mingus is universally recognized as one of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz. An overflowing talent, who experienced the last fires of the swing age, the Be Bop revolution, the experimental seasons of Third Stream and Jazz Poetry up to Free Jazz. But he was also a tormented and angry soul, a man who, due to his mestizo origins, always had to deal with the hostility of American society.

Journalist Flavio Massarutto and artist Squaz (Pasquale Todisco) retrace the stages of Mingus's journey, giving life to a non-canonical biography, which proceeds in paginated episodes like a succession of passages that form a musical suite: fragments of existence told by fishing from interviews, writings, testimonies and historical facts. The portrait of a musician who is the mirror of an era comes out, of a brilliant composer who was also one of the most clearly committed artists in denouncing racism, with real manifesto pieces such as the famous Fable of Faubus denouncing the segregationist governor of Arkansas. JUN231976

Why this caught my eye:

I appreciate the various Jazz history GNs popping up a bit more frequently, and I'm glad Mingus is getting a spotlight.



(W) Oscar Zarate (A/CA) Oscar Zarate

Part historical narrative, part modern fiction, this book consists of two interlinked stories: The first focuses on the 18th-century painter Thomas Girtin and his relationship with his friend and rival J.M.W. Turner; the second tells the tale of three amateur artists in the present day, united by a shared interest in Girtin's art. Using this dual narrative to draw parallels between two eras of rapid technological advancement and sociopolitical turbulence, Oscar Zárate's long-awaited new graphic novel restores to modern eyes this unjustly forgotten figure, whose work has been almost entirely ignored despite his huge influence in British painting.


Why this caught my eye:

I'm down with checking out most SelfMadeHero titles, and this review has some nice highlights worth checking out.



(W) Navied Mahdavian (A) Navied Mahdavian

Before Navied Mahdavian moved with his wife and dog in November of 2016 from San Francisco to an off-the-grid cabin in rural Idaho, he had never fished, gardened, hiked, hunted, or lived in a snowy place. But there, he could own land, realize his dream of being an artist, and start a family-the Millennial dream. Over the next three years, Mahdavian leaned into the wonders of the natural Idaho landscape and found himself adjusting to and enjoying a slower pace of living. But beyond the boundaries of his six acres, he was confronted with the realities of America's political shifts and forced to confront the question: Do I belong here?

Mahdavian's beautifully written and unflinchingly honest graphic memoir charts his growth and struggles as an artist, citizen, and new father. With wit, compassion, and a sense of humor, Mahdavian's insider perspective offers a unique portrait of one of the most remote and wild areas of the American West.


Why this caught my eye:

You can check out a preview here.



(W) Pénélope Bagieu (A/CA) Pénélope Bagieu

Eisner Award-winner Pénélope Bagieu pens her first autobiographical work in this hilarious and bittersweet young adult graphic memoir. Pénélope Bagieu never thought she'd create a graphic memoir. But when she dusted off her old diaries (no, really-this book is based on her actual diaries!), she found cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking stories begging to be drawn. In Layers, Bagieu reflects on her childhood and teen years with her characteristic wit and unflinching honesty. The result is fifteen short stories about friendship, love, grief, and those awkward first steps toward adulthood.


Why this caught my eye:

I felt like I had missed any new entries of Bagieu's work (California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas, Exquisite Corpse), so I'm glad to see a new memoir style project from her.



(W) Lin King, Yu Pei-yun (A) Chou Jian-xin

For fans of Persepolis; An incredible true story in graphic novel form, that lays bare the tortured and triumphant history of Taiwan, an island claimed and fought over by many countries, through the life story of a man who lived through its most turbulent times.

Tsai Kun-lin, an ordinary boy was born in Qingshui, Taichung in 1930s Taiwan. In part 1 Tsai, in concert with the beautiful illustrations of Chou Jian-xin, depicts a carefree childhood despite the Japanese occupation: growing up happily with the company of nursery rhymes and picture books on Qingshui Street. As war emerges Tsai's memories shift to military parades, air raids, and watching others face conscription into the army. It seems no one can escape. After the war, the book-loving teenager tries hard to learn Mandarin and believes he is finally stepping towards a comfortable future, but little does he know, a dark cloud awaits him ahead.

Part 2 opens with Illustrations reminiscent of woodcuts showing the soul-crushing experience of Tsai's detention and imprisonment. In his second year at Taichung First Senior High School, Tsai attends a book club hosted by his teacher and is consequently arrested on a false charge of taking part in an "illegal" assembly. After being tortured, he is sentenced to ten years in prison, deprived of civil rights for seven years, and sent to Green Island for "reformation". Lasting until his release in September 1960, Tsai, a victim of the White Terror era spent ten years of his youth in prison on an unjust charge. But he is ready to embrace freedom.


Why this caught my eye:

More details and some sample pages here.


That's it for this batch, we'll check out some drama on the next round!

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