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On the graphic memoir

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently posted an article on its website about the rise of graphic memoirs, or memoirs in comic book form. This news itself isn’t so noteworthy: with numerous autobiographically inspired books like Art Spiegelman’s Maus (published in 1992), Chester Brown’s I Never Liked You (1994), Craig Thompson’s Blankets (2003), and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis books already in existence, memoirs have long been a staple category in the comix genre. What’s interesting is the continuing acceptance of the form mainstream publishers, as shown by the glut of graphic memoirs slated for release this year from conventional trade publishers like HarperCollins, Knopf, and Houghton Mifflin.

The other thing that’s unusual is that the exact subject matter of these new memoirs differs somewhat from the traditional historical and youth romance paragons of the genre. Houghton Mifflin’s upcoming release is Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, about Bechdel’s closeted gay father and her childhood spent in the family funeral home, while Dragonslippers, by Rosalind B. Penfold, is about an abusive relationship. (The latter was first published in Canada by Penguin Canada.) There are also three new graphic novels that take personal looks at cancer.

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Click here for the piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer