Airboy – A very post-modern form of autobiography has a dissolute James Robinson fretting about writing a virtuous 1940s character for whom he has no empathy. Fantasy and reality switch as the creators meet their creation, then visit his world. James Robinson, Greg Hinkle and Image Comics.
American Splendor Presents Bob & Harv’s Comix – The self-referential autobiographical genre in comics was pioneered by the eccentric Harvey Pekar and his scripts never looked better than when drawn by his buddy Robert Crumb. Harvey Pekar, Robert Crumb and Running Press.
Binky Brown Sampler – The father of autobiographical comics had long undiagnosed problems, which during his youth led to bizarre hallucinations concerning sex and the Virgin Mary, prompting confusion, shame and guilt. Uncomfortable reading still, but brilliant. Justin Green and Last Gasp.
Chicago – A remarkable and vivid look at the author’s rudderless youth, concluded with a coda set in 2010. Even when homeless the compromises needed for a comfortable life are rejected, leading to an unsentimental portrayal as a dilettante. Glenn Head and Fantagraphics Books.
Cruisin’ With the Hound – Gathering short strips about growing up with motorbikes, tail fins and doo-wop in the 1950s, there’s a rare visceral honesty emphasising that these are not the recollections of the class nerd. Spain Rodriguez and Fantagraphics Books
Kampung Boy – Malaysia’s foremost cartoonist takes a dispassionate look back at his young childhood and the fast disappearing way of life in the old Malay villages. A humorous recollection of a poor, yet nonetheless happy and secure childhood. The sequel Town Boy is equally good. Lat and First Second.
Marzi – Children accept their life as the way it is, and only later come to analyse the circumstances, and so it is with this memoir of growing up in Poland during the dying days of imposed communist rule. For all that, it’s anecdotal, cheery and charming. Marzena Sowa, Sylvain Savoia and Vertigo.
Paracuellos – State run social aid homes in Fascist Spain were no place anyone wanted to be, yet the horrific incidents that occurred are related in an almost cheery form of cartooning by someone who experienced them. A bittersweet collection. Carlos Gimenez and IDW/EuroComics.
Peep Show – An “unflinching desire to uncover every dark thought he’s ever had or selfish attribute that he possesses. He treats his girlfriend, Trish, terribly and is an extreme miser.” Yet, this is delivered with verve, comedy and imagination diminished in later work. Joe Matt and Drawn & Quarterly.
Siberia – No navel-gazing here, with a life lived as a Soviet soldier in an unforgiving location unflinchingly and dispassionately revealed. “It’s bleak, it’s brilliant and it provides insight into events that you’ll get from no other graphic novel”. Nikolai Maslov and Soft Skull Press.
The Year of Loving Dangerously – Morally awful decisions made from pure necessity as our protagonist’s solution to having lost his home is to embark on a continual succession of one night stands, yet he’s more likeable than you might think. Ted Rall, Pablo G. Callejo and NBM.