Non-fiction comics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Paul Revere was profiled in this King Features comic strip (September 27, 1936). "Heroes of American History" by Nicholas Afonsky.

Non-fiction comics, also known as graphic non-fiction, is non-fiction in the comics medium, embracing a variety of formats from comic strips to trade paperbacks.

Comic strips and comic books[edit]

Traditionally, comic strips have long offered factual material in this category, notably Ripley's Believe It or Not!, along with Ralph Graczak's Our Own Oddities and King Features' Heroes of American History and others. Dick's Adventures in Dreamland was another attempt by King Features to teach history with comics. Clayton Knight created a strip about aviators, The Hall of Fame of the Air (1935–40), later collected in a book. Texas History Movies, which began on October 5, 1926, in The Dallas Morning News, received praise from educators, as did America's Best Buy: The Louisiana Purchase, a 1953 daily strip in the New Orleans States, distributed nationally by the Register and Tribune Syndicate, which also handled Will Eisner's The Spirit supplement for Sunday newspapers.[1][2]

Non-fiction was published in numerous comic books, notably Picture News, True Comics and Heroic Comics. A notable scripter of this material for 1940s comic books was novelist Patricia Highsmith, who wrote for Real Fact, Real Heroes and True Comics.[3]


Francisca Goldsmith, writing in the School Library Journal in 2008, assembled a "list of essential titles for high schoolers" and reviewed graphic nonfiction by a variety of creators, including Rick Geary (Treasury of Victorian Murder), Harvey Pekar (Students for a Democratic Society), Stan Mack (The Story of the Jews), Joe Sacco (Palestine), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Osamu Tezuka (Buddha) and Howard Zinn (A People’s History of American Empire).[4]

Larry Gonick (The Cartoon History of the Universe) produced graphic non-fiction about science and history for more than 30 years. Other examples are The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation and After 9/11: America’s War on Terror, both by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón.[4] Hill & Wang, which published the 9/11 books, has published several other works of graphic non-fiction.

In A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (2009), Josh Neufeld documented true stories of survival during Hurricane Katrina as witnessed by the survivors: Denise, a counselor, social worker and sixth-generation New Orleanian; friends Abbas and Darnell, who await the storm in Abbas’s family-run market; pastor's son Kwame, entering his senior year of high school; and the young couple Leo and Michelle, who both grew up in New Orleans. Each confronts the same decision–stay or flee.[5]

In Italian winter (2010), Davide Toffolo documented a story of two children from Slovenia in Fascist concentration camp in Italy.

In March (2013), U.S. Rep. John Lewis recalled his childhood, his entry into the U.S. Civil Rights movement and his first encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his first experiences with nonviolent resistance.[6]

In The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition: A New History of the Great Depression (2014), Amity Shlaes recounted her earlier history of America's Great Depression.

Red Quill Books has published a series of political, non-fiction comics including an illustrated version of the Communist Manifesto (2010-2015), a Manga version of Das Capital (2012) and the Last Days of Che Guevara.

Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel which documents a young girl's life in relation to the Islamic Revolution.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Markstein, Don. Toonopedia: Dick's Adventures in Dreamland
  2. ^ The Hall of Fame of the Air.
  3. ^ The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith, by Joan Schenkar, 2009; ISBN 978-0-312-30375-4
  4. ^ a b School Library Journal, November 1, 2008.
  5. ^ Smith: Josh Neufeld
  6. ^ U.S. Rep. John Lewis Discusses His Graphic Novel March, August 2014 interview

External links[edit]