CANCER VIXEN: A TRUE STORY
MARISA ACOCELLA MARCHETTO
Which pair of shoes should you wear to your first chemotherapy session? That's one of the pressing issues dealt with in this funny, eye-opening and moving memoir. Weeks before she's due to (finally!) get married, the 43-year-old cartoonist-fashionista discovers a lump in her breast. Using a lipstick-color palette, Acocella Marchetto keeps the book upbeat. As good as the best Sex and the City episodes, Cancer Vixen becomes a lesson on how staying fabulous can help save your life.
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS
The author of the Persepolis books continues to plumb her family history in Iran for fascinating stories. This one focuses on her great-uncle, a celebrated musician who, family lore says, decided to lie down and die after his wife broke his instrument, a tar, over her knee. Satrapi chronicles the eight remaining days of his life as he converses with his wife, his children, his friends and eventually the angel of death. Satrapi's simple black-and-white drawing style, combined with the fantastical elements of her narrative, turns Chicken with Plums into a great bedtime story for melancholy adults.
A giant tome of some 457 pages, with more chapters being printed as a regular comic series, Castle Waiting creates a vibrant fantasy world not unlike The Lord of the Rings' Middle-earth but with a focus on the lives of women. Gorgeously illustrated in black and white, the book combines Christian and mythological imagery, including a bearded female saint, Rumpelstiltskin and various animal-headed characters. One of several intertwined plots follows a woman as she travels toward the titular castle so that she can safely deliver the baby of her dead lover, who may be an ogre. Fun to read and look at, Castle Waiting will enthrall fantasy readers of both genders.
WE ARE ON OUR OWN
This tale of a Jewish woman hiding with her daughter during the Nazi occupation of Hungary seems even more remarkable since it is the author's own history. Katin, who was only 2 years old during the ordeal, shifts back and forth between her mother's incredible odyssey and her own life later on, dealing with the legacy of that experience. Richly illustrated in pencil, this book should not be missed by anyone with an interest in history, love or faith--so anyone, really.
THE SQUIRREL MOTHER
These short stories offer a sweet respite from the high-stakes drama of most other graphical fiction. Kelso uses a warm, inviting style of soft colors and rounded, almost pillowy characters to explore the mysteries of people and relationships. A typical story, Meow Face, portrays a girl's deteriorating relationship with an increasingly eccentric aunt whose inexplicable antics include meowing in public. Using quiet panels, as when a busy mother takes a moment on a sunny porch, Kelso's stories invite contemplation.