Stranger Than Fiction: Nonfiction Writers Who Would Create Awesome Comics

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Comic books have a nasty habit of forever being associated with superheroes. Even among people who should know better: regular comic book readers. 

But tying the medium of comics and graphic novels to just stories about Spider-Man and Batman is a bit like saying the novel simply exists to showcase the works of Jane Austen. And who wants that?

Take this week, for instance. The three most exciting works being released aren't even fiction, let alone have anything to do with fighting crime, fighting space aliens or fighting a spandex costume that rides up the crotch. Check out this variety:

  • Make Me a Woman, Vanessa Davis A collection of Davis's wonderful autobiographical strips, illustrated in beautiful watercolors. 
  • Footnotes in Gaza, Joe Sacco Reportage in graphic novel form isn't as widespread as I'd like, but no one does it better than Sacco. This new softcover edition looks at the bloody and heartbreaking 50-year history of Rafah, a small town on the Gaza Strip.
  • Everybody Is Stupid Except Me and Other Astute Observations, Peter Bagge He might be most known for his seminal late 1990s series Hate, Bagge has reinvented himself as commentator thanks to a regular gig with Reason magazine. This collects many of his opinion strips.

With such a savory selection of nonfiction comics, it got me thinking: Which nonfiction writers would I like to see on a comic book? I've put together a list of journalists, bloggers and commentators and paired them with an artist. Find out the combinations I came up with after the jump.

Dan Savage
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The artist Colleen Coover
Savage is arguably the nation's premiere sex advice columnist, and it's not just because of his frank and humorous writing style, something that's a prerequisite for even the most banal sex writers. Much of Savage's appeal is that he seriously engages with his audience about legitimate, everyday sexual issues as opposed to wallowing in sophomoric lad-mad fantasy advice. Pair that approach with Coover's clean art style (before making a mainstream reputation as an artist with a penchant for drawing adorable, "girly" superheroines, Coover was known for her erotic art), and you've got the best monthly comic/sex manual out there.

Ana Marie Cox
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The artist David Malki !
Cox was one of the founding editors of Wonkette and has made a career of mixing Washington D.C. gossip with the more serious sides of Capitol Hill politics. Malki !, known for his brilliant Wondermark web comic, has a classic style that has no problems relaying the gravitas in politics without weakening the delivery of a devastating satirical punchline. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Christopher Hitchens
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The artist Frank Miller
He's probably the most intelligent and provocative journalist and social critic out there. And whether you agree with his views on religion or the "war on terror" is irrelevant; it's that you can't ignore those views. I'll freely admit my desire to team up Hitchens with Miller, the legendary creator behind Sin City, 300 and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with seeing how these two iconoclasts could collaborate on the page. (Miller is known for his own outspoken political ideas when it comes to American foreign policy.) Although I have to admit I would love to see Miller's wild and crazy depiction of Hitchens being voluntarily waterboarded for a story or the raw purity of emotion Miller could convey in a scene where the writer is told he is suffering from cancer.

Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks
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The artist Greg Land
Morgan and Cocks--the Fug Girls--are the first ladies of online fashion snark. But imagine letting this duo give targets like Courtney Love and Taylor Momsen makeovers on the comic book page. Plus, if there was ever an assignment more suited to Land's heavily photo-referenced--and heavily criticized--style, I can't think of one. Well, maybe illustrating a Fleshbot graphic novel.

Malcolm Gladwell
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The artist Jonathan Hickman
The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers ... Gladwell is this generation's Big Idea Writer, a journalist who has a deft touch at taking complex social science questions and turning them into digestible concepts. And what's amazing is that if you take a look at Hickman's The Nightly News, his scathing graphic novel takedown of the media from 2007, you see the quintessential template for how to weave an engaging narrative around strong research. 

Bill Simmons
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The artist Takehiko Inoue
Sports, an activity so full of movement, seems like an odd fit for comic books, a medium that is by and large static. However, if you've ever read the manga Slam Dunk, you know in the right hands even a sport as kinetic as basketball can jump off the page. Slam Dunk creator Inoue could take Simmons's wit and encyclopedic basketball knowledge and turn it into the ultimate fantasy sports book.  

What do you think? Which nonfiction writer would you like to see try his or her hand at writing a comic? 

Other comics to check out this week 
  • Strange Tales II #1 Another assortment of alt-comix creators trying very hard not to desecrate Marvel's beloved intellectual properties. 
  • Superior #1 Mark Millar has said his dream is to write Superman. Instead of waiting for his chance, Millar has done the next best thing and created his own Superman analogue instead.

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