Comic Books and Death

A Journal of My Father (Japanese: 父の暦, Hepburn: Chichi no Koyomi).
Author: Jiro Taniguchi.
Year: 1994.

The book opens with some childhood thoughts of Yoichi Yamashita spurred by a phone call at work informing him of his father’s death. So, he journeys back to his hometown after an absence of well over a decade during which time he has not seen his father. But as the relatives gather for the funeral and the stories start to flow, Yoichi’s childhood starts to resurface. The Spring afternoons playing on the floor of his father’s barber shop, the fire that ravaged the city and his family home, his parents’ divorce and a new ‘mother’. Through confidences and memories shared with those who knew him best, Yoichi rediscovers the man he had long considered an absent and rather cold father.

Chicken with Plums
Author: Marjane Satrapi.
Year: 2004.

Nasser Ali Khan, a relative of Satrapi’s and a Tar player, has his cherished instrument broken after a quarrel. The book narrates the last eight days of his life as he lost the will to live, in November 1958 in Tehran. madhg kjankfadnfasomasfomasomfoosamadfmnfadjjafsoafsnnjafsnoafjnasnsfkjnsnsfkjnfknsfskjnsfkjnafkjnaskjnaskjlnaosnasnfnsononsjnfsaknskjnaskjfnjafsknsafnjsnkjnsaosnofadhg kjankfadnfasomasfomasomfoosamadfmnfadjjafsoafsnnjafsnoafjnasnsfkjnsnsfkjnfknsfskjnsfkjnafkjnaskjnaskjlnaosnasnfnsononsjnfsaknskjnaskjfnjafsknsafnjsnkjnsaosnosnonfnjosano

A Contract with God
Author: Will Eisner.
Year: 1978.

In Russia, the young, deeply religious Hasidic Jew Frimme Hersh[a] carves a contract with God on a stone tablet to live a life of good deeds; he attributes to it his later success in life. He moves to New York, into a tenement building at 55 Dropsie Avenue, and lives a simple life devoted to God. He adopts an infant girl, Rachele, who is abandoned on his doorstep. When she dies of a sudden illness, Hersh is infuriated, and accuses God of violating their contract. He abandons his faith, shaves his beard, and lives a life as a miserly businessman in a penthouse with a gentile mistress. He illicitly uses a synagogue’s bonds that were entrusted to him to buy the tenement building in which he had lived when poor. He becomes dissatisfied with his new way of life, and decides that he needs a new contract with God to fill the emptiness he feels. He has a group of rabbis draw up a new contract, but when he returns home with it, his heart fails and he dies.

Death: The High Cost of Living
Authors: Neil Gaiman with art by Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham.
Year: 1993.

The main character is a teenage girl named Didi, who appears to be an eccentric, orphaned goth, but who also insists that she is Death personified, taking her one-day every hundred-year sabbatical as a living person. She guides a suicidal young male protagonist called Sexton on a journey of self-discovery. As the story goes on, Sexton gains a reason for not wishing to die, his love for the girl claiming to be Death. adhg kjankfadnfasomasfomasomfoosamadfmnfadjjafsoafsnnjafsnjlnaosnasnfnsononsjnfsaknskjnaskjfnjafsknsafnjsnkjnsao

Neon Genesis Evangelion
Author: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
Year: 1994.

In 2015, fifteen years after a global cataclysm known as the Second Impact, teenager Shinji Ikari is summoned to the futuristic city of Tokyo-3 by his estranged father Gendo Ikari, director of the special paramilitary force Nerv. Shinji witnesses United Nations forces battling an Angel, one of a race of giant monstrous beings whose awakening was foretold by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Because of the Angels’ near-impenetrable force-fields, Nerv’s giant Evangelion bio-machines, synchronized to the nervous systems of their pilots and possessing their own force-fields, are the only weapons capable of keeping the Angels from annihilating humanity.

Author: Nora Krug.
Year: 2018.

Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, but the Second World War cast a long shadow throughout her childhood and youth in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany. For Nora, the simple fact of her German citizenship bound her to the Holocaust and its unspeakable atrocities and left her without a sense of cultural belonging. Yet Nora knew little about her own family’s involvement in the war: though all four grandparents lived through the war, they never spoke of it.

Now in her late thirties, after almost twenty years of living abroad (first in the UK, then in the US), Krug realizes that living away from Germany has only intensified her need to ask the questions she didn’t dare, or didn’t think to ask a child and young adult. Returning to Germany, she visits archives, conducts research, and interviews family members, uncovering in the process the stories of her maternal grandfather, a driving teacher in Karlsruhe during the war, and her father’s brother Franz-Karl, who died as a teenage SS soldier in Italy. Her extraordinary quest, spanning continents and generations, pieces together her family’s troubling story and reflects on what it means to be a German of her generation.

Momenti straordinari con applausi finti
Author: Gipi
Year: 2019.

Extraordinary moments with fake applause is the story of a son, used to making the audience laugh with the sarcasm of his monologues, who finds himself at his mother’s bedside without feelings or words. That of a group of cosmonauts, traveling for millennia from one planet to another, who find themselves lost in a dark and dead end. Of a caveman and of a cry, primordial and desperate, that echoes in the ears and asks to be deciphered. The narrative lines intertwine and the temporal planes overlap, in a crescendo of emotions that press on page after page. Gipi immerses himself in that dark area where the images that we thought were lost are hidden: lumps of memory that are not only at the center of this story, but are also the reason why the comic language was born. A clear and adventurous, corrosive and comical, ruthlessly honest account that makes this book an instant classic.

The End
Author: Anders Nilsen
Year: 2007.

Assembled from work done in Anders Nilsen’s sketchbooks over the course of the year following the death of his fiancée in 2005, The End is a collection of short strips about loss, paralysis, waiting, and transformation. It is a concept album in different styles, a meditation on paying attention, an abstracted autobiography and a travelogue, reflecting the progress of his struggle to reconcile the great upheaval of a death, and finding a new life on the other side

Ma Vie Posthume
Author: Hubert & Zanzim.
Year: 2012.

After the death of her husband, Emma Doucet simply survives while waiting for her time. But, when she arrives, to her great surprise, Emma finds herself alive and dead at the same time… and suddenly her will to live comes back stronger than ever! The journey into her memories thus mixes with the mystery behind her death, in a perfectly successful mix of dark humor and comedy.

Author: Ayumi Tachihara.
Year: 1998.

In this volume we follow the last days, dramatic and intense, of a man who chose to condemn himself to death, becoming a member of the Special Attack Squad, or a “kamikaze” (a term which, however, is never used in the comic).

Daisuke Shibusawa is an aviator, a corporal in the Japanese army during World War II. Although the country is now at the end of the line, he and other young boys voluntarily decide to crash the plane into the enemies, even if perhaps it will be of no use, just for the love of their country.
While waiting for his turn, with other comrades from the Special Attack Team, Daisuke will find himself reflecting on his gesture.
Is he doing it for his country? For himself, so as not to feel like a coward? To protect loved ones, like your mother? Or why did everyone else make the same choice?
But the fateful day is approaching…

La Profezia dell’Armadillo
Author: Zerocalcare.
Year: 2011.

The Armadillo Prophecy is Zerocalcare’s debut OGN, and it’s the story of how he coped with learning too late that a dear friend from his childhood had died, all while a giant armadillo represents his imaginary conscience. Structured as a series of short stories that tie in to form a cohesive narrative, this is the seminal story that made Zerocalcare famous for his ability to write comedy with depth and elements of drama embedded in the plot. While it references Italian society, it’s definitely a universal tale of loss, coping and coming of age.

Un polpo alla gola
Author: Zerocalcare.
Year: 2012.

Tentacles at My Throat is a coming-of-age story set in three different moments of Zerocalcare’s life: primary school, junior high, and his adult life. It is a complete story told in three parts; three moments that have in common that all-too-familiar feeling of having tentacles at one’s throat. Three friends, their schoolgrounds, and a secret. And fifteen years later, the discovery that they all thought there was only one secret, but each had their own. And there was one more, bigger than the others, that none were aware of.

Dimentica il mio nome
Author: Zerocalcare.
Year: 2014.

The starting point is the death of his grandmother, a moment in which the author finds himself dealing with the end of childhood/adolescence and the beginning of adulthood. From here begins a story that, mixing fantasy and reality, tells the story of three generations of his family: his, his mother’s and his grandmother’s.

Macerie prime
Author: Zerocalcare.
Year: 2017.

On the occasion of Cinghiale’s wedding, Zerocalcare meets the complete group of his old friends. Everyone has grown and changed, reality has profoundly distanced them from their desires and dreams.
Together they will try to write a project, which they hope will help them live the future better.
At the same time, they will face disappointments and everyday life, the difficulties of becoming adults in a time of institutionalized precariousness.