Trying to explain to the average person that you read comic books, and that it’s not an immature thing, can be extremely difficult. This can be even more confusing when talking about comics about children. Although there are countless comic books for kids, there are also some amazing comics about children, written for adults. These stories touch on aspects of childhood which we cherished, and some we wished we could block out. They are powerful, and emotional, and utilize the comics medium to its fullest in order to communicate memories in ways other art forms can’t. Here is a list of eight comic books about childhood, written for adults.
1. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is a graphic autobiography by Marjane Satrapi about her childhood growing up in Iran in the eighties. Her tales of being a fun, hip kid while living among the hostile circumstances she was in are moving and inspirational. The sequel, Persepolis 2, continues her story throughout her young adult years as she became an artist.
2. Essex County by Jeff Lemire
Although Essex County revolves around a much bigger story, the first third of the book titled, ‘Tales From The Farm,’ is about a young boy who lives with his uncle after his mother passes away. This powerful story realistically shows the way children handle their emotions, and use coping mechanisms to adapt to situations they’re not ready for. The sketchy illustrations and quiet panels create a feeling of loneliness that everyone has felt at one point in their lives.
3. Blankets by Craig Thompson
Blankets is a graphic autiobiography by Craig Thompson about his life growing up in a devout Evangelical Christian family. He explains his universal experiences of love, friendship, and fear through nice, stylistic drawings. Thompson used this book to explain to his parents that although he is still a religious person, he is no longer a Christian.
4. Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi
Cross Game is a manga (Japanese comic) series which definitely seems more suited to a younger audience at first glance. This story about children playing baseball will take you on an unexpected emotional trip and make you feel deeply for these young characters. This comic showcases many childhood themes like young love, bullying, and learning about death.
5. Epileptic by David B.
David B’s graphic autobiography, Epileptic, tells the story of his childhood, particularly his relationship with his brother who developed epilepsy. As his brother’s condition worsened, he explains how he would find escape in fantasy and cartooning– this book itself being a way for him to cope with things out of his own control.
6. Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez
Marble Season, the graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez, tells the story of growing up as a Latino in the sixties. Very different from his usual mature comics, Marble Season is more similar to Peanuts in both its look and themes. It focuses on the innocent moments of childhood like friendship, playing games, and becoming obsessed with media.
7. Plutona by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox
Plutona is another great series, written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Emi Lenox, about the dark side of childhood. It’s the story of a group of friends who find the dead body of a superhero in the forest, and how they individually deal with that. It is basically Stand By Me (a coming of age classic) with superheros– both emotional and entertaining.
8. The Playboy by Chester Brown
The Playboy is one of many graphic autobiographies by cartoonist Chester Brown. He reveals through this memoir his explorations of early sexuality through Playboy Magazine. The topics of lust, shame, and confusion are heavy in this divulging piece, relatable to almost anyone’s early experiences of discovering themselves, and their feelings towards others.
Some topics about childhood can be hard for people to face, and these stories tackle them head on. Not only are these comics beautiful works of art, they also tell literary stories on a level far beyond the general assumption. As you can see from the list, all but one selection is done by one person, and almost all of them are memoirs. It takes a special courage to put your life out on display, especially when revealing the moments that most people would rather have left forgotten.
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Featured image via Pixabay