By Jason Larsen
December is upon us and the Fall semester is winding down! The International and Area Studies Library is looking forward to the various activities of the upcoming season and has some comic recommendations in that spirit. As many of us observe different holidays or can find this time of year to be challenging mentally and/or emotionally, we wanted to focus on materials that everyone could enjoy. The below comic selections focus on the themes of seasonal weather, the love of food, and mental health/well-being. Our selections on mental health and well-being are meant to help readers understand that they are not alone in their struggles and may offer some additional coping mechanisms or inspiration. We hope you find a new favorite that provides some additional comfort as the weather gets colder.
When looking for a comic that captures how Winter can sometimes feel in the Midwest, look no further than David Peterson’s Mouse Guard. This volume shows the impact a harsh winter has on the mice of the forest, and the need to keep their various communities connected. While the protagonists are mice, the series is rooted strongly in fantasy and adventure. The perfect thing to read while keeping warm as the season starts to roll in!
In a desolate, icy world, two young girls are being taught the three fundamental rules to survive. However, when they push beyond the boundaries of what is known, they awaken something ancient. What began as a coming-of-age trip for the girls turns into a saga of survival, coping with loss, and finding triumph in redemption.
Chef Anthony Bourdain was known for many things during his life, but one of his lesser know titles was comic writer. The story is set in a near future L.A. that takes food culture to a new extreme. Master chefs rule the food scene like crime lords, and people are willing to do whatever it takes to get a dining spot at the premiere restaurants. Follow sushi chef Jiro as he strikes out to forge a new way that food engages with people, even if he has to kill all the other chefs to do it.
Lucy Knisley grew up with her mother being a gourmet chef. Through their relationship, she learned how food connects us all. In this unique part memoir and part recipe book (foodoir??), Lucy takes us through key moments in her life, what food was present during these moments, and life lessons she has learned through food and cooking in the kitchen.
While Relish examines the creator’s relationship with food, Robin Ha went in a different direction with her graphic novel. The book is an actual cookbook with Korean recipes and uses the comic medium as a way to illustrate the ingredients needed, provide information, and the steps to prepare the meals. The book covers 60 dishes and provides a great entry point for those who either are looking to make something new, or learn more about Korean cuisine.
Food scientist and award-winning author Ali Bouzari consulted with writer Joe Keatinge to cook up something truly unique. This series takes us to a world where chefs are celebrated as rockstars…if they survive cooking school. A unique blend of fantasy adventure and culinary arts, this series takes readers along on a quest for the perfect ingredients to make a dish truly legendary.
This comic is a story about a young woman who is searching for the perfect body. Upon buying a candy bar that is the title of this book, she finds herself transported back in time to a specific moment of her past with each square she eats. Creator Sweeny Boo takes the reader on an honest and unflinching look at how we create our self-image, the eating disorders that impact many, and examines how to love ourselves for who we are.
This work examines 11 different mental health disorders that impact the lives of 26.2% of the American population daily. The stories are grounded through the creator’s time working in a psychiatric ward and provide the point of view of not just those experiencing the illness but also of their friends and family. The creator made this book as a way to try and destigmatize the common misconceptions around these mental illnesses.
Creator Mirion Malle examines how young adults cope with mental health. The story centers on the stress and trauma experienced by a young woman after a sexual assault. The comic explores how the young woman can find self-love and relief in light of the effects that depression, isolation, and thoughts of self-harm have on her life in the wake of her traumatic event. With the help of her friends, sisterhood, and therapy she begins the process of healing and discovering ways to survive and thrive.
Creator Rebecca Burgess’s memoir explores her life as she learned to navigate being ACE in a world that is sex focused. Whether it is discussing discovering her asexual identity during her early years, or exploring the impact on her work and her relationships, the creator provides the reader with an unflinching look at the life struggles and mental challenges it is being ACE.