Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘graphic nonfiction’

24 FEBRUARY, 2014

Freud’s Life and Legacy, in a Comic

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“You have to listen carefully. The unconscious mind is crafty.”

While Freud may have engineered his own myth and many of his theories may have been disputed in the decades since his heyday, he remains one of the most influential figures in the history of psychiatry and psychology. And yet for many, Freud is more metaphor than man and his name summons only a vague idea of his work — “something to do with penises,” our marginally informed collective conscience might whisper — rather than a true understanding of just how profoundly he influenced contemporary culture, from our mechanisms of consumerism to our notions about the self.

In recent years, the comic book genre has been applied to a wealth of graphic nonfiction for grownups, ranging from famous biographies to philosophy, but nowhere does the genre shine more exquisitely than in Freud (public library) — a magnificent biography-as-graphic-novel of the founding father of psychoanalysis by Swiss-born writer, economist, historian, and psychoanalyst Corinne Maier, illustrated by celebrated French cartoonist Anne Simon. Published by British indie press Nobrow — which also gave us Blexbolex’s brilliant No Man’s Land and some gorgeous illustrated chronicles of aviation and the Space Race — this unusual illustrated biography takes us through Freud’s life and legacy with equal parts scientific-historical rigor, sociocultural insight, and disarming wit, both visual and narrative.

From how his own childhood informed his ideas to his most famous cases, the captivating story weaves its way through Freud’s life to shed light on both the man and his metaphors for the mind.

Freud is absolutely fantastic from cover to cover. Complement it with Freud’s little-known correspondence with Einstein, then revisit the graphic biographies of Richard Feynman, Charles Darwin, Hunter S. Thompson, and Steve Jobs.

Images courtesy of Nobrow

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12 FEBRUARY, 2013

A Graphic Biography of Darwin

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The evolution of the father of evolution, illustrated.

Charles Darwin — father of evolution, decoder of human emotion, hopeless romantic, occasional grump — was born on February 12, 1809. From Smithsonian Books comes Darwin: A Graphic Biography (public library; UK) — a fine addition to outstanding graphic nonfiction, joining other famous graphic biographies of cultural icons like Richard Feynman, Hunter S. Thompson, The Carter Family, and Steve Jobs. Written by journalist Eugene Byrne and illustrated by cartoonist Simon Gurr, the story takes us into the life and times of Darwin — from a curious child on a “beeting” expedition to a patient young man persevering through the ups and downs of battling creationist oppression to a worldwide legend — tracing his intellectual adventures amidst the fascinating scientific world of the 1800s.

Complement Darwin: A Graphic Biography with the legendary naturalist’s original list of the the pros and cons of marriage, then revisit the best graphic novels of 2012.

Images courtesy Smithsonian Books

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29 JANUARY, 2013

How To Make Great Radio: An Illustrated Guide Starring Ira Glass

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“When correctly harnessed, radio can be as emotional, as funny and as satisfying as the best motion pictures or television shows.”

“The laws of narrative are the laws of narrative,” NPR’s Ira Glass once famously proclaimed. “What engages us is what engages us.” But, surely, there must more to radio — to great radio — than a passive surrender to some inscrutable law. And, if there is, then surely no one knows what that might be better than Glass himself — for, as Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad readily acknowledged, it was Glass who ushered in a new era of storytelling on the radio.

In 1999, the staff of This American Life invited cartoonist Jessica Abel to spend several weeks with them. The result was Radio: An Illustrated Guide (public library), in which Abel peeks inside the hood of the beloved radio show to reveal what makes it hum and teach us how “to lift Radio to its true potential” — a fine addition to other echelons of comics as nonfiction, most similar in ethos and sensibility to fellow public radio maven Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine.

When correctly harnessed, radio can be as emotional, as funny and as satisfying as the best motion pictures or television shows. But sadly, few radio programmers even shoot for that. … [N]o mass medium is cheaper to do, or easier to learn. In these few pages we show you all the tricks you need.

From the ins and outs of editing to the intricate art of the interview to how you can get yourself on the radio, the slim but potent 32-page zine-like book offers a surprisingly dimensional lens on what it takes to make great narrative radio.

Complement Radio: An Illustrated Guide, which is also available as an ebook for jus $2, with Ira Glass’s timeless wisdom on the secret of creative success.

Lest we forget: Public radio, like Brain Pickings, is made possible by, well, the public — contribute your possibility to This American Life here.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





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