11 essential comics and graphic novels with Seattle ties

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Artichoke tales by Megan Kelso

If you just hover over the illustrations and notice the title of local designer Megan Kelso Artichoke tales, you might think it’s a children’s book. Art is simple; the characters, after all, have artichokes for their hair. But the book, published by Seattle’s Fantagraphics – the hugely influential independent publisher – is aimed at adults, telling the story of a family caught between two sides of a civil war in a fantasy world.

Black hole by Charles Burns

In this graphic novel, a mysterious STI sneaks among teenagers in a Seattle suburb in the 1970s. The infected push a tail or perhaps a strap between their fingers; then people start to die. Charles Burns’ austere, almost Rorschachian illustrations remind us that horror is rarely far from the art of this region.

The full hidden side by Gary Larson

This incomparable cartoonist can muster more quirky surreal wit in one panel than most could in an entire book – silly humans, sly animals, and radiant riffs on idioms. Larson was born in Tacoma, graduated from Washington State University, and lives in Seattle.

Total hatred by Peter Bagge

Talk about the Seattle comics and Peter Bagge’s 1990s series – in which main character Buddy Bradley wanders Seattle acerbically – will appear sooner or later. If Fantagraphics is the Sub Pop of cartoon publishing, To hate is his Bleach and his Superfuzz Bigmuff.

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and I by Ellen Forney

This graphic memoir from the Seattle designer looks at his experience with bipolar disorder and the years it took him to find stability. We see her in a tattoo parlor or planning a book party. We also see pages of sketchbooks in which she worked during depressive episodes, and her attempt to situate herself in relation to a host of artists – Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe – considered “insane” and fictionalized. for that.

Megg, Mogg and Owl by Simon Hanselmann

“Oh, Bojackripped me off for years, ”said Simon Hanselmann cross section, referring to Netflix Bojack Horseman. The Seattle cartoonist was half facetious, but if you understand Megg, Mogg and Owlmix of drugs, acid dysfunction, and cartoon characters – a witch, a cat, and a bird – it’s not hard to draw the parallels.

Moxie, my sweet by Mark Campos

When local comic Mark Campos took his own life in 2018, the grief was overwhelming. This 2005 collection shows just how much of a part of the community he was: he wrote each of the collection’s nine stories, in which, say, kitchen appliances stage a rebellion against humans. Other local cartoonists — David Lasky, Tatiana Gill, Sarah Galvin — helped him illustrate them. See also the work of Campos in Casino son, about his Mexican American childhood experience in Reno.

Ms. Marvel written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona

Intelligent, satirical, and self-aware, Ms. Marvel was the comic book giant’s first Muslim superhero. But what sets her apart from the pack is the nuance with which G. Willow Wilson of Seattle creates her heroine, Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American from New Jersey. She is able to shape shift to fight baddies, like an organization called Hydra, which genetically modifies Jersey hipsters with purple kombucha.

Naughty Pieces by Roberta Grégory

Published by Fantagraphics over 13 years and 40 issues, Naughty Pieces follows Midge McCracken (aka Bitchy Bitch), a typical working woman who frequently breaks out in anger. His rage rendered in the rough, impressionistic black and white of Seattleite Gregory is real and genuinely funny.

We hereby decline: Japanese and American resistance to wartime incarceration written by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura, illustrated by Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki 

This 160-page graphic novel tells the stories of three Japanese Americans, Hajime Jim Akutsu, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and Mitsuye Endo, who resisted prison camps during WWII. Here, local authors and illustrators, who have been brought together by the Wing Luke Museum, weave the three different stories with rich illustrations and historical research: Endo has signed a lawsuit opposing the incarceration. Akutsu (an inspiration for John Okada’s No-No Boy) and Kashiwagi refused the government’s attempts to show loyalty to them.

What it is by Lynda Barry

When Lynda Barry received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2019, it was after nearly 40 years of work, a work that began when she attended Evergreen State College after growing up in Seattle. Among his most alluring books is this graphic reverie – part diary, part comic book investigation into the nature of life, part scrapbook. To say that it defies genres doesn’t go far enough: it just is what it is.

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