Autobiographical Conversations

Autobiographical Conversations, the crowdfunded book I talked about a couple of months ago, has come out, and copies are now available to buy from Ryan Claytor’s website.

Autobiographical Conversations

Comics about comics can be insightful (The Comic Book History of Comics), sometimes to the point of influence far beyond the field (Understanding Comics), or tedious. This one falls in the first category, as Claytor draws himself discussing the genre of autobiographical comics with an English professor (the co-credited Dr. Harry Polkinhorn) known for studying the personal essay.

It’s mostly talking-head dialogue, but Claytor has the two wander campus and get lunch together as well as sit in the instructor’s office. They discuss the use of truth in autobiography; the difference between facts, meaning, and authentic emotions; the attempt to bring order to otherwise frighteningly unorganized reality through storytelling; and different perspectives on presenting point of view. At one point, he illustrates different uses of art style by autobiographical cartoonists to create different moods. That’s one of the strongest sequences, using the work to demonstrate the theories.

The lavender pages are an intriguing choice, a neutral color with more pizazz than black-and-white and without the implications of grey, silver, or sepia. The white figures really pop against the light purple background. Claytor is careful to preserve the uhs and hms and conversational byways of the discussion, giving more sense of the participants as people, not just figures to present opinions.

An Afterword explains more about Claytor’s history creating the book and the research he did (particularly for the setting). (The author provided a review copy as thanks for a pull quote.)

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