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In keeping with the major storm that just brought so much havoc to the east coast, I thought I’d touch briefly on how comics, in one form or another, have informed us about the subject of hurricanes.

In vivid fashion, you can discover the Eisner and Harvey Award nominated graphic novel and webcomic series A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld. This outstanding New York Times bestseller focuses on a diverse group of gulf coast citizens, following their true story battles against the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

Another graphic novel worth checking out is the visually appealing and aptly titled Hurricanes, written by Gary Jeffrey and illustrated by Mike Lacey. This book tells the story, through comics, about three of the most infamous hurricanes of the last 80 years. They include the unforgettable Labor Day Hurricane back in 1935; Hurricane Andrew that devastated Florida and the Bahamas in 1992; and, of course, a tragic Hurricane called Katrina in 2005.

And then there are the several comic book characters named “Hurricane” who have sprung up over the years. Perhaps the best known is Albert Potter or “Hurricane”, the former meteorologist and enemy of Captain Britain–United Kingdom’s answer to Captain America, published by Marvel Comics.

Undoubtedly, and rightly so, someone soon may create another graphic novel about our hurricane Sandy. And how about a superhero to help fight it, too?

Since the elections are just weeks away I couldn’t help think of comic art and its obvious similarities to political cartoons.

One could easily write a large volume covering the vast history of cartoons in American politics. In this blog, I’ll spare you all the details. But suffice to say it’s a fascinating art form that has spanned the length of our republic—from the first hours of the War of Independence to the current presidential race. Some cartoons have catered to the darker biases of the American citizenry while many more have simply brought good-natured entertainment to the public.

Here are several books worth checking out that beautifully illustrate this rich tapestry of American expression:

 

American Political Cartoons, 1754-2010: The Evolution of a National Identity by Steven Hess and Sandy Northrop

The Best Political Cartoons of the Year, 2010 Edition, Edited by Daryl Cagle and Brian Fairrington

The New Yorker Book of Political Cartoons, Edited by Robert Mankoff

Herblock: The Life and Works of the Great Political Cartoonist by Herbert Block, Edited by Harry L. Katz, Introduction by Haynes Johnson

The Lebanese Civil War graphic novel, A Game for Swallows, by Zeina Abirached adds another standout review to its rapidly growing collection of estimable write-ups (i.e. Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal). This time The A.V. Club has taken notice. The popular newspaper, which has a prominent presence in print and online, features reviews and interviews related to all things entertainment. Although not satirical in nature like its parent company The Onion, it offers a wide range of fun and humorous pop culture content.

In the Swallows review the A.V. Club cuts to the chase by saying, “Abirached captures both the constant fear and the sense of community that defined her youth, emphasizing the latter in her warm recollections of the people who helped raise her, and getting across the latter in unusual page designs that show how the togetherness inside that one safe room was fragmented out in the streets.”

And the review doesn’t accept a knee-jerk opinion by some that A Game for Swallows is Persepolis’ (by Marjane Satrapi) twin sister. It concludes in no uncertain way that “the Persepolis comparison doesn’t work against A Game for Swallows” primarily because Ms. Abirached’s “approach to the story is quite different” than that of Ms. Satrapi’s work.

Ms. Abirached is scheduled to make a visit to New York City for book signings in early-mid November following a conference at the University of Cincinnati.

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