Family Autobigraphy

There are enough good autobiographical comics about family relationships to present a list of that sub-genre. The first two graphic novels on the list embody the extremes of happiness.

The Bakers: Do These Toys Belong Somewhere? – Completely at odds with almost all the remainder of this list, this is cheerful family comedy, for the most part safe enough for Reader’s Digest, yet astutely observational and frequently side-splittingly hilarious. Kyle Baker and Kyle Baker publishing

A Childs’ Life – The most appalling catalogue of parental abuse and domination is gradually revealed in a series of short stories originally printed in anthology comics, and at first appearing to be light-hearted recollections. Superbly varied art. Plus bonus medical illustrations. Phoebe Gloeckner and Frog Ltd.

Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes – Mary Talbot’s experience of growing up as the daughter of a renowned James Joyce scholar, and contasted with the life of Joyce’s stifled daughter Lucia. Warm and engaging despite distance and hardship. Mary M. Talbot, Bryan Talbot and Jonathan Cape.

Ethel and Ernest – A loving portrait of parents, doused in sentimental charm and period observation as Ernest meets Ethel in the 1920s and their relationship progresses through marriage, family, a second war, and finally demise. Would that we’re all as fondly recalled. Raymond Briggs and Jonathan Cape.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – A complex relationship with a conflicted father is at the heart of Fun Home, the title referring to the family funeral business. The seven chapters form themed glimpses of childhood. Absorbing and rewarding. Alison Bechdel and Mariner Books.

Invisible Ink – In 1972 Barbara Griffith revealed to her son that she’d begun an extra-marital affair in the 1950s. It took him almost thirty years to process the concept into this book, which is part family history and part detective story. Bill Griffith and Fantagraphics Books.

The Late Child – An unusual autobiography/biography as Marguerite Van Cook relates two stories about her mother, then three of her own childhood and youth. All are connected by oppression and fear and make for vivid reading. Marguerite Van Cook, James Romberger and Fantagraphics Books.

Meta-Maus: A Look Inside a Modern Classic – Familiar with Maus and want to know more? This background scrapbook offers all kinds of details. Interviews with the author, transcripts of interviews with his father, rough sketches, early strips, and the cultural impact. Art Spiegelman and Viking.

A Soldier’s Heart – Chuck Tyler was a difficult man and a difficult father, with problems originating in the World War II service he never spoke about. His daughter’s attempts to understand him late in life correspond with her own problems. Compelling. Carol Tyler and Fantagraphics Books.

Stitches – A painful past with abusive parents vividly brought to life by a novice comic creator, but accomplished fine artist whose approach is as distinctive and memorable as his story is disturbing and painful. David Small and W.W. Norton.