Graphic Novel Memoirs for Adults

While sometimes disparaged as “comic books,” memoirs in graphic novel form can be literary and sophisticated and even rise to the level of classics, as is the case with Art Spiegelman’s spellbinding Maus. After a few pages of adjustment to the format, one easily becomes captivated by the visuals that contribute to the mood and details of the storyline. Below are some popular titles grouped by theme.

[Adult memoirs and biographies in graphic novel format are shelved alphabetically by the subject’s name in your library’s biography section.]

Health and Illness


Epileptic, David B.
This unique, artistic memoir reveals how the author sought refuge in his imaginative drawings as a way of coping with his brother’s frightening epilepsy.

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, Ellen Forney
Forney writes of her struggle as an artist with mental illness, drawing inspiration from famous artists of the past who also had mood disorders.

Cancer Vixen: A True Story , Marisa Marchetto
About to marry for the first time at age 43, Marchetto found a lump in her breast that spurred a survival journey bolstered by love and humor.

Stitches: A Memoir, David Small
Drawing helped this award-winning illustrator through a difficult boyhood with his depressed mother and busy physician father, especially after childhood cancer took his voice.

Politics and History

Persepolis, Persepolis 2, Chicken with Plums, and Embroideries, Marjane Satrapi
Growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and her years as a young adult in Europe have given comic artist Satrapi a wealth of material for her gripping work.

Maus I and Maus II, Art Spiegelman
Spiegelman creates an unforgettable account of his Jewish father’s survival in Nazi-occupied Europe, depicting Germans as cats and Jews as mice.

Growing Up and Coming-of-Age

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama, Alison Bechdel
Bechdel paints a modern, gothic tale of coming of age within her family’s funeral home business and the realization she’s the lesbian daughter of a gay father.

An Age of License, Displacement, and French Milk, Lucy Knisley
Knisley’s cartoonish travelogues express the musings and angst of a twenty-something explorer.

Blankets, Craig Thompson
Coming of age in a fundamentalist Christian household, Thompson’s struggles with romance and faith unfold against the backdrop of a quilt made by his girlfriend and the snowy Midwestern landscape.

--Suzanne Summers LaPierre, City of Fairfax Regional Library

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