Joey Daniewicz’s Top 5 Books
- The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
Best known as the author of the greatest texts about comics, Scott McCloud finally made a book, and he applies his knowledge of the craft to what’s largely a contemplation about art and creation’s relationship to the world after the creators exit. Built around the premise of a young sculptor who makes a deal with Death to give up his life after 200 days for the power to effortlessly sculpt whatever he imagines, The Sculptor’s examination of the nature of art is worthy of Charlie Kaufman, while its story is as effortlessly tear-jerking as anything since Toy Story 3. This is the sort of book that can define a medium.
- Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
Nick Sousanis’ PhD dissertation was a comic called Unflattening that recalls Edwin A. Abbot’s Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions and similarly shifts its focus to the limitations of our perspective. In doing so, he spends Unflattening demonstrating and advocating for merging the written word with image and illustration to present ideas in ways that words alone, favored for millennia, cannot. It’s more like reading a philosophical essay than reading a book, but while writing on philosophy trips on itself, Sousanis’ merging of the written word with his illustrations allow us to better enjoy its wealth of ideas.
- In the Skin of a Jihadist: A Young Journalist Enters the ISIS Recruitment Network by Anna Erelle
Truth be told, I’m not that interested in ISIS. I’m convinced we’re only atwitter about them because brown terrorists are finally deciding to claim control of land, and I think our interest in them will only feed the cycle of Middle Eastern violence. What’s fascinating about this read, however, is the psuedonymous journalist Erelle’s relationship with her fake life as a young French woman who wants to trek to Syria with the help of an ISIS operative who professes his love for her over Skype. I think this book is best read as a crushing narrative of the mental burden of assuming another identity.
- SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki
This is a comic book collecting Jillian Takami’s long-running webcomic that’s sort of like Harry Potter or X-Men in that a bunch of magical freaks are at the same school. Its draw? It cares way more about kids doing kid stuff at school than it cares about the magic.
- First Year Healthy by Michael DeForge
Maybe supplanting the wonderful Ant Colony as his defining work to date, the short comic book First Year Healthy is a little book about mental health, relationships, and the fragility of both, whose style will put the reader outside their comfort zone.