Alison Bechdel on Fun Home the Musical, Teaching, and Her Next Book

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Elena Seibert
Alison Bechdel

The New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at ASU West will host comic strip creator and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel at 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 17. At the free event, Bechdel will give a talk, take questions from the audience, and sign books.


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The 2013 Eisner Awards: Reviewing the Best Reality-Based Comics

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Abrams ComicArts
Art from The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song by Frank M. Young and David Lasky

The Eisners, "the Oscars of comics," will be announced at Comicon (in San Diego) next month and I'm still madly reading to catch up with the best of the best of 2012's amazing crop of graphic novels. But, as it's (officially now) summer in Phoenix, it's not too burdensome for me to sprawl under a ceiling fan and cocoon, desert-style. This month I've been pleasure-trolling through the Eisner nominees for "Best Reality-Based Work." Though they are wildly disparate topically and stylistically, each of the six books in this category is entertaining, informative and, in its own way, inspiring. I confess that the first three on the list probably wouldn't have hit my radar if it hadn't been for their Eisner nominations; I would have been the poorer for not having found them.

They are...


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The 2013 Eisner Awards: One More Look Back at Great Graphic Novels of 2012

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Art from Leela Corman's Unterzakhn
Courtesy of Schocken
Yeah, okay, back in February, I swore I was moving on to the graphic novels of 2013, running through the previous year's must-read list double-time. But since the 2013 Eisner Award Nominees were announced last month, I had to make a U-turn. I thought I'd done a good job reading (and writing about) the best of 2012, but I'd only skimmed about a quarter of the cream of the crop.

This month and next, I'll catch us up on two categories of nominees for the Eisners (a.k.a. "the Oscars of comics") so that we can formulate our deeply held opinions of who's deserving by the time the awards are announced at San Diego Comicon on July 19.

This month: Best Graphic Album -- New. And the nominees are ...

See also:
Nicole Georges' Graphic Novel Calling Dr. Laura Is Charming and Disarming
Cynthia Clark Harvey's List of Graphic Novel Must-Reads (Before You Check Out This Year's Bestsellers)

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Nicole Georges' Graphic Novel Calling Dr. Laura Is Charming and Disarming

Welcome back to Explicitly Graphic, a monthly column by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey will review graphic novels, talk to artists, and dive into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she unwraps Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges.

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Calling Dr. Laura
Nicole Georges' new graphic memoir, Calling Dr. Laura (Mariner) is a 260-page sleight of hand. The cover promises ("In the tradition of Fun Home . . .") a family mystery to unravel.

The topic is raised early, as a palm reading arranged by a girlfriend takes an interesting twist. The palmist insists that the father Georges has been told is dead remains very much alive. Georges' inquiry into the vitality of her father takes up only a little bit of the real estate between the covers of this book, but that's fine. If that's the hook it took to sell the book, I'm glad of it, because it's a charming volume, full of lovely drawings and a nice exploration of the rest of Georges' life as a chicken and dog keeper, femme zinester, artist, DJ, and musician living in Portland.


See also:

- Ellen Forney Talks Mental Health, the Life of a "Crazy Artist," and Her latest Graphic Novel, Marbles
- A Soldier's Daughter's Heart: A Conversation with Graphic Novelist Carol Tyler

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Cynthia Clark Harvey's List of Graphic Novel Must-Reads (Before You Check Out This Year's Bestsellers)

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Book covers from Amazon.com
Welcome back to Explicitly Graphic, a monthly column by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey will review graphic novels, talk to artists, and dive into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she talks about a few novels she's catching up on before she tackles this year's list of best sellers.

Two months into 2013, I'm still tearing through books from 2012. With my teensy little OCD tendencies, I can't quite embrace the 2013 crop of graphic novels until I've made an attempt to get at some of the most interesting from the year before.

Here are five books, which are recent arrivals to my library and/or attention. In the order in which I read, which is the order in which I got them from the library, they are:


See also:

- Ellen Forney Talks Mental Health, the Life of a "Crazy Artist," and Her latest Graphic Novel, Marbles
- A Soldier's Daughter's Heart: A Conversation with Graphic Novelist Carol Tyler


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Chris Ware's Graphic Novel Building Stories is an Unfolding, Inspiring Narrative

Welcome back to Explicitly Graphic, a monthly column by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey will review graphic novels, talk to artists, and dive into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she unwraps Building Stories by Chris Ware.

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Cynthia Clark Harvey
I can be a little (a lot) contrarian when it comes to a thing that's "universally" acclaimed. Take, for instance, the original Star Wars. When it came out, everybody who'd ever gone to a movie was seeing it and talking about it, from 9 year old neighbor boys to their parents and beyond.

Once I heard exclamations over the bar scene and the flight sequences and the robots and Chewbacca and dreamy Harrison Ford, I was over it. I felt like I'd seen it. Until I actually did see it in a theater a couple of years after it was released. I LOVED it. I loved it so much I was embarrassed how much I loved it.

So it was with Chris Ware's new graphic novel Building Stories, the culmination of 10 years of work. I saw tantalizing hints of it in May at the Comics Conference in Chicago, heard him speak on a couple of panels and was resolved to get a copy of it the minute it was released.


See also:

- Ellen Forney Talks Mental Health, the Life of a "Crazy Artist," and Her latest Graphic Novel, Marbles
- A Soldier's Daughter's Heart: A Conversation with Graphic Novelist Carol Tyler

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Ilan Stavans and Steve Sheinkin's Graphic Novel, El Iluminado, is an Entertaining and Educational Mystery

Welcome back to Explicitly Graphic, a monthly column by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey will review graphic novels, talk to artists, and dive into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she reviews El Iluminado by Ilan Stavans and Steve Sheinkin.

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What do Jewish history, the Inquisition, Spanglish, Yiddish and academic rivalry have in common? El Iluminado, (Basic Books) a new graphic novel by literary critic Ilan Stavans and artist/writer Steve Sheinkin is an unlikely mash-up of all those things with the added fillip of a murder mystery. For me, it somehow all works.

El Iluminado is a page-turning whodunit that delivers a substantial history lesson in a clear, entertaining way. The books centers on the mysterious death near Santa Fe of Rolando Perez, a fictional young man who has become fascinated with the story of the real life Luis de Carvajal the Younger, also known as El Iluminado.

See also:

- Ellen Forney Talks Mental Health, the Life of a "Crazy Artist," and Her latest Graphic Novel, Marbles
- A Soldier's Daughter's Heart: A Conversation with Graphic Novelist Carol Tyler

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Ellen Forney Talks Mental Health, the Life of a "Crazy Artist," and Her latest Graphic Novel, Marbles

Welcome back to Explicitly Graphic, a monthly column by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey will review graphic novels, talk to artists, and dive into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she sits down with author and artist Ellen Forney.

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From Ellen Forney's Marbles
Ellen Forney's fifth book, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me is her most personal yet. A previous book, Monkey Food, was also autobiographical, recounting happy childhood memories.

Marbles is Forney's recollection of being diagnosed bipolar at 30, her years-long struggle to find the right combination of medications, self-care and exercise, and what it means both personally and culturally to be a "crazy artist."

See also:
- A Soldier's Daughter's Heart: A Conversation with Graphic Novelist Carol Tyler
- Sketchy Stuff: A Resource Guide to Drawing Opportunities, Workshops, and Classes in Phoenix
- Noteworthy Graphic Novels by Women: Recent, Upcoming, and One That I Cannot Friggin' Believe!


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A Soldier's Daughter's Heart: A Conversation with Graphic Novelist Carol Tyler

Welcome back to Explicitly Graphic, a monthly column by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey will review graphic novels, talk to artists, and dive into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she sits down with author and artist Carol Tyler.

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Carol Tyler
Carol Tyler has stories to tell -- both her own and her parents' -- though it's not always clear cut whose generation lays claim to a particular tale.

Tyler's new graphic novel, "You'll Never Know (Book III), Soldier's Heart," released this week, completes the trilogy about her father's WWII service and its far-reaching effects on her family.

"You'll Never Know" Books 1 and 2 are beautiful, with Tyler's masterful use of color adding mood and emotional texture to every page. But it's the story that pulls the reader through.

See also:
- Cartoonist Ted Rall on The Occupy Movement's Flawed Model, Upcoming Elections, and His Latest Work, "The Book of Obama"
- Check It Out: Graphic Novels at Phoenix Libraries
- Noteworthy Graphic Novels by Women: Recent, Upcoming, and One That I Cannot Friggin' Believe!


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Author Matthew Parker on Prisons, Higher Education, Arizona Politics, and his Graphic Memoir Larceny in My Blood

Welcome back to Explicitly Graphic, a monthly by Cynthia Clark Harvey (who's working on a graphic novel of her own). From time to time, Harvey will review graphic novels, talk to artists, and dive into the scene of all things explicitly graphic. Today, she sits down with author and artist Matthew Parker.

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Image by: Angela Radulescu
Matthew Parker is a guy who isn't afraid to take an about-face when it looks like the smart thing to do. He did it in 2002, when he entered college at age 42, and did it again in 2009 when his agent convinced him to set aside his prose memoir in progress and recreate the memoir in graphic form.

Parker is the author of the recently released graphic novel, Larceny in My Blood, A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education (Gotham Books, 2012).

See also:
- Cartoonist Ted Rall on The Occupy Movement's Flawed Model, Upcoming Elections, and His Latest Work, "The Book of Obama"
- Check It Out: Graphic Novels at Phoenix Libraries
- Noteworthy Graphic Novels by Women: Recent, Upcoming, and One That I Cannot Friggin' Believe!



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