42 pages • 1 hour readTrevor R. Getz, Illustr. Liz Clarke
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There are many contextual lenses through which to view Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History, but because those involved with the novel extensively review historical and sociopolitical contexts, one lens that may be worth considering beyond these contexts is the genre itself. The decision to tell Abina’s story primarily through a graphic medium with alternative supplemental formats places the novel among the ranks of semi-autobiographical works like Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. This raises the question as to why the medium of graphic novel lends itself so well to telling stories that might otherwise go unheard.
Although there are clear differences between Abina and the Important Men and works like Maus, Persepolis, and American Born Chinese namely in length and subject matter, there is commonality in the elevation of marginalized stories and voices, paired with the accessibility and depth of meaning inherent in the genre. According to an article on this “unusual publication,” author Trevor R. Getz is quoted as saying, "If we really believe in the value of critical thinking, we have to change the way we teach history” (Bible, Elaina, “