cover image The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Tell Your Story, Change Your Life

The Art of the Graphic Memoir: Tell Your Story, Change Your Life

Tom Hart. Griffin, $24.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-250-11334-4

This how-to from cartoonist Hart (Rosalie Lightning) ably sets its readers on the path to creating graphic memoirs, partly by tracing how the author made his own. Hart offers plenty of examples of other artists’ work, accompanied by practical suggestions for beginners. Most affecting, however, are Hart’s personal reflections on how the death of his young daughter affected his art practice, as he had to change his typically humorous style—“characters with big noses and big feet”—to approach the subject. He feels the resulting drawings fell short, but still hopes that the “desperation” and “struggle” expressed in them is visible to the reader. Not only does this frankness lend credence to Hart’s advice, but it comes across as a quality one might find in an actual memoir, and not just a manual to writing one. If there is one drawback it’s, ironically for a book from a visual artist, the crowded and sometimes messy visual style, which juxtaposes Hart’s instructional text against large reproductions of graphic memoir panels, themselves filled with ample text. Nonetheless, his sincere investment in the topic shines through on every page, bolstering the case that the process of writing one’s memoirs in graphic form is both artistically viable and personally rewarding. Agent: Meg Thompson, Thompson Literary Agency. (Nov.)