Does anyone else feel like biographical comics are overlooked in the world of comics media? Obviously, auto-bio comic memoirs are some of the major big-hitters that have become literary staples like Maus or Persepolis, but biographical works written by other people don’t carry the same clout. I get the feeling that’s slowly changing, because there are a few upcoming biographical titles that sound absolutely awesome.
First up is Monk, an examination of the life of acclaimed jazz artist Thelonious Monk and his wealthy musical patron Baroness Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter. I’m not going to lie, I have no idea who Thelonious Monk is, but that’s because I’m an uneducated philistine unlearned in the ways of jazz music. But what interests me most of all is how cartoonist Youssef Daoudi will be bringing the time of ’50s Europe to life, as well as how he’s going to portray the artist’s jazz music visually. It is such a creative, malleable music genre and how you get that across without the accompanying music for the readers has to be a serious challenge. Daoudui has been published in the French comics scene before, and I’m pleased that First Second is carrying his English-language debut!
Speaking of things that may be hard to convey to the reader, what about creating the game of Tetris? That’s cartoonist’s Box Brown’s challenge with his upcoming work Tetris: The Games People Play about the game’s creator Alexey Pajitnov. On one hand, the Tetris shapes and configurations are instantly recognizable to millions of people, but how do you get across the creation and coding of a video game in a way that’s narratively interesting? I’m also interested to see just how Pajitnov’s story plays out, considering that early 1980s USSR isn’t exactly known as a video game hotspot, yet somehow came out with one of the most enduring games of all time. Brown’s previous biographical work on Andre the Giant was widely acclaimed and for very good reason, so my expectations are high that he’s going to make all the pieces fit together on this one. (Did you get that, ‘fit all the pieces together’?? Tetris pun!)
Also, and more briefly only because you can expect a longer piece about her from me soon, how exciting is Spike C. Trotman’s upcoming biography comic on Josephine Baker? I’m super excited to see how she brings Baker’s incredible life to the page, and you know that the editor of Smut Peddler isn’t going to be pulling any slutshaming bullshit the way too many historians do when it comes to Baker.