Social Observation titles tell us something about the way we live our lives, the attitudes and reactions that inform humanity.
Alice in Sunderland – Masquerading as a look at how time spent in Sunderland might have influenced the work of Lewis Carroll, this is instead a vast scrapbook exploring the city, its people, its history, its current inhabitants and projects and much more. Bryan Talbot and Jonathan Cape/Dark Horse Books.
Asterios Polyp – The title character is a notional architect, designing never built projects, but one night a storm sets him off on a path of self-discovery that will transform him and finally see his talent fulfilled. His life is cleverly reflected in the varying shades of art. David Mazzucchelli and Pantheon Books.
The Blue Notebook – A stunning super-realist journey into obsession, stalking and manipulation from an author far better known as a great artist. Rich in emotional depth, this three act play is long out of print, but worth seeking out a second hand copy. André Juillard and NBM.
Building Stories – Stunningly ambitious collection of 14 comics in assorted formats randing from pamphlet to hardback book gathered in a box. They all connect on the topic of a brownstone tenement block and its past and present inhabitants. Chris Ware and Jonathan Cape/Pantheon
Everything is its Own Reward – Beautiful, attention grabbing urban sketches, most commonly of San Francisco, are accompanied by snippets of dialogue. Some build to tell a story, others are isolated comment. Always thoughtful and inspiring. Paul Madonna and City Light Books.
The Explainers – Jules Feiffer pioneered observational comedy, satirising New Yorkers of the late 1950s and their outlooks, obsessions and neuroses, the highly expressive characters constantly in motion as they reveal themselves. Jules Feiffer and Fantagraphics Books.
The! Greatest! of! Marlys! – Ostensibly the product of a self-aware eight year old, the work is brought to life with such verve, charm and realism it’s an utterly convincing step into someone else’s reality, with the crude illustration informing the content. Lynda Barry and Sasquatach Books.
Misery Loves Comedy – Visceral, soul-baring self anaylisis, by turns hilarious and unremittingly bleak, drawn in an impressive variety of cartoon styles and with an introduction from the author’s therapist. Dark, observational comedy. Too dark for some. Ivan Brunetti and Fantagraphics Books
V for Vendetta – Can one man change a repressive political system, and how far is he justified in abusing others to do so? A noir movie crime thriller with points to make about about the future we sleepwalk into. If you can afford it try the Absolute Edition. Alan Moore, David Lloyd and Vertigo/Titan Books.
Weapons of Mass Diplomacy – A witty political satire. French Foreign Minister Alexandre Taillard De Worm is a human whirlwind, utterly committed to high-minded principles, and given a sardonic overlay as he rails against ineptitude. Brilliance. Abel Lanzac, Christophe Blain and SelfMadeHero.