The best international documentary comics to understand the world

Why am I passionate about this?

Documentary Comics are this genre of comics in which you can make a community visible, denounce a crime or expose yourself to the world. Being able to dialogue with the world while dialoguing with the reader is amazing. The elements you have to take into account the things you can hide in the silence of a drawing, compelling the reader to read again, to find the easter egg about that thing you really want to talk about. The ways of telling the truth in drawings. All those things are the things that I love about documentary comics.


I wrote...

What Remains: Personal and Political Histories of Colombia

By Camilo Aguirre,

Book cover of What Remains: Personal and Political Histories of Colombia

What is my book about?

What Remains is an innovative graphic novel that weaves documentary and memoir forms to capture the sociopolitical fabric of Colombia, spanning 200 years. Camilo Aguirre dips in and out of pivotal historical periods, all while skillfully interweaving family histories and anecdotes of students, union workers, and guerilla fighters. He creates a critical, unflinching vision of Colombia that is profoundly mobilizing in its search for resolution. Aguirre is hopeful throughout, but he refuses to step into the trap of fictitious optimism. The people and the families represent a detailed composite portrait of life in Colombia, sketched from opposing ends of the political spectrum. Colombia is inextricable from its people's complex lives and identities, as well as the lives of Aguirre and his family.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Palestine

Camilo Aguirre Why did I love this book?

This was one of the first documentary comics that I read and felt like a piece of research. In this fundamental piece of graphic narrative we witness the subjectivity of the author, the experience, and the reflection over it filtered through the script, the incredibly well-drawn panels, and the organization and layout of the pages. Palestine is a piece of art with its own voice highlighting other voices and questioning the role of the comic artist in that regard.

By Joe Sacco,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In late l991 and early 1992, at the time of the first Intifada, Joe Sacco spent two months with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, travelling and taking notes. Upon returning to the United States he started writing and drawing Palestine, which combines the techniques of eyewitness reportage with the medium of comic-book storytelling to explore this complex, emotionally weighty situation. He captures the heart of the Palestinian experience in image after unforgettable image, with great insight and remarkable humour.

The nine-issue comics series won a l996 American Book Award. It is now published for the first…


Book cover of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Camilo Aguirre Why did I love this book?

One of the key questions that I have heard from the academics analyzing the documentary format in comics is the question about the subject who draws their experience in comics in order to make the reader feel a vivid experience through ink and paper. Persepolis does this, while telling you the story of a woman, the author. While telling us a story about injustice, oppression from a graphic witness. The travels, the friends lost, the tense environment between Europe and Iran. All these elements make Persepolis a masterpiece.

By Marjane Satrapi,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Persepolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Wise, often funny, sometimes heart-breaking, Persepolis tells the story of Marjane Satrapi's life in Tehran from the ages of six to fourteen, growing up during the Iranian Revolution.

The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-grandaughter of Iran's last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life.

Amidst the tragedy, Marjane's child's eye view adds immediacy and humour, and her story of a childhood at once outrageous and ordinary,…


Book cover of American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar

Camilo Aguirre Why did I love this book?

I am not recommending a particular volume or compilation. In general I love the work of Harvey Pekar.  He has brought me closer to Documentary Comics than any other author. He worked with reflections and anecdotes and was one of those authors that from the writing was able to defy the common places in comics making. Yes, he was a scriptwriter, but he pulled out so many amazing comics from the graphic formula and made them work. I remember seeing gigantic balloons with blocks of text. Pages and pages of close-ups, and they weren’t boring.  A comic about him reflecting on his masculinity by unclogging the toilet. Amazing.

By Harvey Pekar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Splendor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Harvey Pekar, a true American original. For over 25 years he's been writing comic books about his life, chronicling the ordinary and mundane in stories both funny and touching. Working as a hospital file clerk in Cleveland, his dead-on eye for the frustrations and minutiae of the workaday world mix in a delicate balance with his insight into personal relationships. Illustrating his stories are the cream of the underground comics world, including the legendary Robert Crumb. Pekar has been called 'the blue collar Mark Twain', and compared to Dreiser, Dostoevsky and Lenny Bruce. With American Splendor now an award-winning…


Book cover of My Degeneration: A Journey Through Parkinson’s

Camilo Aguirre Why did I love this book?

This is not a best-seller graphic novel, you don’t see this book on every bookstore shelf. I discovered it because of Nina Mickwitz’s Documentary Comics. I ordered it from the library network that we had at my grad school. My degeneration is a Jewel of a book in many senses, it is a sincere book, a dialogue that goes through many channels: the images drawn, the text typed, and the way the book was made. The shifting in the line makes you think about the process and the author not just as a character but as a person experiencing the world from certain conditions and telling you about that experience.

By Peter Dunlap-Shohl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Degeneration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How does one deal with a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease at the age of forty-three? My Degeneration, by former Anchorage Daily News staff cartoonist Peter Dunlap-Shohl, answers the question with humor and passion, recounting the author's attempt to come to grips with the "malicious whimsy" of this chronic, progressive, and disabling disease. This graphic novel tracks Dunlap-Shohl's journey through depression, the worsening symptoms of the disease, the juggling of medications and their side effects, the impact on relations with family and community, and the raft of mental and physical changes wrought by the malady.

My Degeneration examines the current state…


Book cover of Virus Tropical

Camilo Aguirre Why did I love this book?

Virus Tropical is a Latin American Book, a Colombian book, an Argentinian Book, an Ecuadorian Book. Virus tropical talks about the nineties, if you are from Colombia you recognize the towns, the T-shirts, the music, the buses. So many peripheries mixed up and telling you about the coming of age of the main character. So many important things touched while touching on the most vapid-everyday things. The accents, the way the characters interact, I was able to identify with all of this while reading this graphic novel. Virus Tropical is a great book, I’m glad it was translated into English.

By Power Paola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Virus Tropical as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vírus Tropical é uma saga familiar divertida e descolada, repleta de personagens cômicas e alopradas: um pai sacerdote que dá missas clandestinas em casa, uma mãe que lê o futuro nos dominós, uma irmã mais velha depravada, outra totalmente beata…

No meio dessa trupe, a caçula Paola tenta encontrar seu espaço e sua identidade. Com um traço fino, expressivo e cheio de detalhes, Power Paola nos mergulha no âmago dessa singular família colombiana.

Dividido em capítulos curtos e temáticos, e escrito num estilo ritmado e com muitos diálogos, Vírus Tropical consegue emocionar e entreter associando o melodrama ao humor.


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Grand Old Unraveling: The Republican Party, Donald Trump, and the Rise of Authoritarianism

By John Kenneth White,

Book cover of Grand Old Unraveling: The Republican Party, Donald Trump, and the Rise of Authoritarianism

John Kenneth White Author Of Grand Old Unraveling: The Republican Party, Donald Trump, and the Rise of Authoritarianism

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading was a childhood passion of mine. My mother was a librarian and got me interested in reading early in life. When John F. Kennedy was running for president and after his assassination, I became intensely interested in politics. In addition to reading history and political biographies, I consumed newspapers and television news. It is this background that I have drawn upon over the decades that has added value to my research.

John's book list on who we are, how we’ve changed, and what gives us hope

What is my book about?

It didn’t begin with Donald Trump. When the Republican Party lost five straight presidential elections during the 1930s and 1940s, three things happened: (1) Republicans came to believe that presidential elections are rigged; (2) Conspiracy theories arose and were believed; and (3) The presidency was elevated to cult-like status.

Long before Trump, each of these phenomena grew in importance. The John Birch Society and McCarthyism became powerful forces; Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first “personal president” to rise above the party; and the development of what Harry Truman called “the big lie,” where outrageous falsehoods came to be believed. Trump…

Grand Old Unraveling: The Republican Party, Donald Trump, and the Rise of Authoritarianism

By John Kenneth White,

What is this book about?

It didn't begin with Donald Trump. The unraveling of the Grand Old Party has been decades in the making. Since the time of FDR, the Republican Party has been home to conspiracy thinking, including a belief that lost elections were rigged. And when Republicans later won the White House, the party elevated their presidents to heroic status-a predisposition that eventually posed a threat to democracy. Building on his esteemed 2016 book, What Happened to the Republican Party?, John Kenneth White proposes to explain why this happened-not just the election of Trump but the authoritarian shift in the party as a…


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