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
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
film
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform