Notables 2010: Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole

Nate Powell, Swallow Me Whole, 2008.

I’m obviously not alone in liking this book. It’s an Eisner, Ignatz, and Yalsa winner and a finalist for the LA Times book prize. When all those very distinct constituencies agreeing on a book, you know it’s worth a read. This one is about a pair of step-siblings who suffer from various kinds of diagnosed and un- mental illness. The central character, Ruth, has an enormous collection in bugs in jars that she obsessively rearranges, and Perry, her brother, is compelled to obey a small wizard he hallucinates. The thing that sets this book apart, though, is the sensitive and deep understanding Powell conveys of mental illness. He’s long worked with developmentally disabled people, and his experience and empathy show. With his flowing, brushy drawings, he puts you inside the characters’ lives.

Age: teen

What is this “Notable” thing all about? Matt and Jessica are the series editors for the Best American Comics, and are responsible for the Notable Comics list at the back of the book, which is comprised of virtually all the comics we sent to the guest editor that weren’t picked, as well as a number of others that we think are noteworthy for various reasons, but that we didn’t send to the guest editor.

We’ve always hoped readers will delve a bit into the list to find more great stories once they finish reading BAC. Realistically, though, we know that’s tough. What can you know about a story from a title and author? So this is one of a series of posts focusing on each of the Notables from the 2010 Best American Comics.

Have or know of a comic we should look at? Find submission info here.

The “age” suggestion is what we think might be the minimum age for reading and appreciating a work. All works on the list, though, should appeal to older audiences too. It’s a minimum suggestion only.



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