Drawn to Berlin

Ali Fitzgerald. Fantagraphics, $24.99 (196p) ISBN 978-168396-132-1
Fitzgerald celebrates the cathartic powers of art in her memoir recalling comic workshops she led in Berlin’s refugee shelters. Her students, mostly from Syria but also North Africa, range from adults to children, encompassing giggling tomboys and wistful artists alike. Despite diverse backgrounds and life trauma, they find common ground in the classroom. Iconic cartoon characters, wildlife sketches, and glamour shots all spring from Fitzgerald’s students’ pencils, and it is the detail with which she recounts their work that also gives the book life. No one in these pages is defined by the horrors they’ve gone through or the what they’ve lost; no one is reduced to an enlightening caricature or a sorrowful anecdote. They may have faced xenophobia, lost loved ones, and suffered, but they are also people who love The Walking Dead, dumb jokes, and flower gardens. Fitzgerald’s sinuous inks capture their faces and their creations with warm dexterity—her depictions of children and their drawings are especially tender. This ode to her students isn’t just a portrayal of a city in flux or a people displaced—it is a portrait of the power of art. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2018
Release date: 10/16/2018
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