Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 156

New York Times Magazine, 4 June 2017 edition

Genre notes: journalism
74 pages
Read it here

If the New York Times would release an all comics magazine every Sunday (without a dip in the quality present here), I would subscribe to their newspaper. This was delightful.

Jornalistic stories in comics have been a thing for at least a little while. I first encountered the genre in Joe Sacco's Palestine around 1999. Even that was a bit of journalism mixed with autobio. Certainly there's a place for the ἐγώ in journalism, but generally we look for stories about someone other than the reporting journalist. I think I first noticed a surge in non-ἐγώ journalistic comics a couple years back with the rise of The Nib. Certainly there were plenty of stories about What It Was Like For Me Colouring Black Characters For Marvel and The Time I Visited A Prison Island and My Experience With Sensory Deprivation (each interesting stories), but then there were the non-ἐγώ stories about what's happening with the economy in San Francisco, how people interact with the C-word, and the strange ruin of Fort Ord. I was glad to see this trend because it revealed one more cool avenue for comics storytelling.

When I went out of my way to find a copy of this NY Times Magazine edition (I honestly had trouble finding a place to buy one), I was hopeful but guarded. Anthologies are rarely Very Good. They're usually a mix of good and bad and end up leaving a mediocre taste in my mouth. The Nib's collection a couple years back (Eat More Comics) had some amazing stories and some just plain crappy or boring or eye-rolling comics. I was glad I had gotten it but I also wished it was half as long and that its editor was more discriminating.

The NY Times Magazine all-comics edition evades this trap. They either got lucky or just have a better editorial team. There is still some variation in quality between stories, but even the worst story in here is still Good. One of my favourites is about these two people in Harlem who just sit at their windows and watch the world go by. The artist, Bill Bragg does this thing like Here and 750 Years In Paris do, where he takes the same exact scene and camera angle and lets time wash over it. Basically you spend a day looking out this woman's window. One of my favourite parts is when it begins to rain in the early evening. The store windows have lit up and the ground darkens with wet and then a puddle forms. In half of the puddle, you see the reflection of the store window. It was such a great detail that it sold me on the comics in a way that I wouldn't have know I was missing out on had it not been there.

This magazine was in print for like 2 days a while ago, but you can still read it for free on the NY Times site.

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