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Get Real: Graphic Novel Memoirs

Starring real people or their fictional graphic alter-egos, these graphic memoirs come with a healthy dose of real life.

Abel, Jessica
La Perdida
This fictional travelogue is the annotated postcard of a young woman’s visit to Mexico to find herself. As she navigates relationships and challenges, from disagreements with her wealthy ex-boyfriend expatriate to learning an unfamiliar culture, she also journeys through self-discovery and accountability.
 
Bechdel, Alison
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
This graphic memoir vividly recounts childhood experiences with wry humor and perspective, but never nostalgia. Witty, telling dialogue between Alison, her family and friends punctuates her often poetic narration. Bechdel’s frank, likeable tone and expert illustration lead the reader irresistibly from one frame to the next as she pieces together the memories and people that influenced her identity.
 
Doucet, Julie
My New York Diary
Julie Doucet’s comics explode from the panels with an abundance of detail, design and self-effacing humor. The stories in this piercingly honest autobiographical volume describe her experiences coming into her own as an artist and a woman, including a decadent stint in New York with a terrible boyfriend.
 
Kirshner, Mia
I Live Here
Remarkable for its design alone, this collection includes three books that use various mediums, including comics and journal entries. The narratives share stories from refugees of war, disease and international distress in Chechnya, Burma, Mexico and Malawi.
 
Kominsky-Crumb, Aline
Need More Love
Packed with photographs, illustrations, comics and text, Kominsky-Crumb’s sizeable, beautifully designed, full-color memoir recounts her experiences growing up, painting, writing underground women’s comics and raising her daughter with renowned comics-maker R. Crumb.
 
Ka, Olivier
Why I Killed Peter
In this emotionally stirring memoir, using colorful illustrations and a sincere, childlike voice, the author recalls his experience as a child with an abusive priest and describes his confrontation with the man as an adult.
 
Peeters, Frederick
Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story
In this memoir, a man recalls the emotional and practical difficulties and triumphs of being in love with an HIV positive woman, and her son, who is also infected.
 
Spiegelman, Art
Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@!
Pulitzer Prize winning comics master covers topics from his development into a pivotal underground comics creator to fatherhood in this oversized reprint enhanced with an introduction in comic form and a prose afterword.
 
Torres, Alissa
American Widow
Torres’ husband started a new job in the World Trade Center on September 10, 2001. On the 11th, Torres found herself a widow, eight months pregnant. This striking memoir follows the year after the attacks, dealing with her memories, grief, bureaucracy, healing and motherhood.
 
Watson, Esther Pearl
Tammy Pierce is Unlovable
Originally published in Bust magazine, this awkward, tender and poignantly clever comic is loosely based on the late 1980s diary of a teenage girl found in the women’s restroom of a Vegas gas station. Tammy Pierce is a Texan high school sophomore who is completely boy crazy, exchanges cheese fries for friends, and attracts every opportunity for humiliation.
 

Updated: May 5, 2009