Graphic novels: Comic book art direct from the heart of history

The non-fiction graphic novel can make difficult histories approachable and unforgettable. In the follow-up to their 2012 Costa Biography Award-winning Dotter of Her Father's Eyes, Mary M and Bryan Talbot join the artist Kate Charlesworth on Sally Heathcote: Suffragette (Jonathan Cape, £16.99), launching at the British Library's exhibition Comics Unmasked on 2 May. While they have grounded their account in thorough research and annotations, the Talbots humanise women's struggle for the vote by showing key events from 1905 to 1916 through fictional eyes. Young Sally is a domestic in the Manchester household of Suffragette co-founder Emmeline Pankhurst, who casts off "the muslin badge of servitude" and joins the cause, enduring politicians' chauvinism and chicanery, police brutality and imprisonment. A particularly harrowing scene takes us inside Sally's cell in Holloway Gaol, where her hunger strike is broken only by cruel force-feeding. The Talbots connect us to the feelings of these turbulent Edwardian times, illustrated in Charlesworth's vivid details, her palette muted to draw the eye to Sally's red hair, the Suffragettes' colours of purple, white and green, and their spilled blood. A century on, their determination still inspires.

Equally inspiring are the free-thinkers surveyed in Bohemians: a Graphic History (Verso, £9.99). The editors Paul Buhle and David Berger corral 22 other contributors to profile the rebels who defined America's counterculture, from its origins in the 1850s, when Ada Clare returned from Paris to New York crowned the "Queen of Bohemia", to Thelonious Monk and other 1940s bebop innovators. Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Marcel Duchamp and Josephine Baker are featured alongside several fascinating, largely forgotten radicals. Successfully honing their lives into intense, occasionally densely worded comics, this anthology proves the assertion, quoted here, by Modern Quarterly editor VF Calverton, that "the cartoon speaks a language that is direct, pithy and dramatic".

After book-length graphic biographies of Johnny Cash and Fidel Castro, Germany's Reinhard Kleist chronicles the troubled Jewish-American heavyweight Harry Haft in The Boxer (SelfMadeHero, £14.99). For decades, the Polish-born Haft kept his damaging, dehumanising experiences in the concentration camps secret, disclosing them only in 2003 to his eldest son, who wrote his biography published in 2006, a year before his death. Haft could never forget boxing for the Nazis' entertainment against his fellow prisoners, knowing the loser would die in the gas chambers. Haft moved to America in 1948 and pursued fame as a professional boxer so that his lost teenage love Leah might find him. Drawing in flourishes of inky brushstrokes, Kleist brilliantly uses subjective images of Haft's victims and the SS officers' baying hounds to convey his flashbacks in the ring. It's the compelling tale of a born fighter, survivor and romantic.

Weighing in at nearly 500 pages, Climate Changed (Abrams ComicArts, £15.99) is the Frenchman Philippe Squarzoni's personal attempt to confront soberly the science, politics and economics about global warming and the challenges we face, or ignore at our peril. In crisp, photo-referenced lifework, he investigates climate change through "talking heads" of nine experts he interviewed, mixed with graphs, graphics and news reports. To make this more digestible, Squarzoni skilfully interweaves wash-toned childhood reveries, symbolic references to movies, notably their beginnings and ends, and chillingly surreal imagery, like a silhouetted crowd staring at towering screens of advertising, oblivious to the rising water they stand in. Above all, Squarzoni inserts self-reflective interludes of his relationship, home, local countryside, working process and dilemmas about changing his way of life. He asks of himself and us, "Can we do it?" Economist René Passet warns, "Human nature resists all dictators, including Mother Nature." This is one graphic novel without an ending, because its story isn't over.

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam