Sarah Boxer is a contributing writer for The Atlantic and the author of two cartoon novels, In the Floyd Archives: A Psycho-­Bestiary and its sequel, Mother May I?: A Post-Floydian Folly.
 (September 2020)


Back to the Drawing Board

A page from Making Comics by Lynda Barry

Making Comics

by Lynda Barry
Sitting at home this summer, quarantined with my paper, my pen, and my anxieties, I dipped into Lynda Barry’s latest you-can-do-it-too book, Making Comics. It seemed the perfect tonic—part doodle, part manual, part therapy. Trouble was, Barry’s exercises soon awakened a couple of my latent anxieties—Devwahrphobia (fear of homework) and …

Berlin Before the Storm

A page from the graphic novel Berlin by Jason Lutes


by Jason Lutes
In 1997 Jason Lutes, a comics editor and cartoonist in Seattle known for Jar of Fools, a graphic novel about an alcoholic magician and his senile mentor, set out to create an ambitious comic about Berlin in the late Weimar period, just before Hitler’s rise to power. The idea occurred …

Growing Up Arab

A panel from Riad Sattouf’s graphic memoir The Arab of the Future

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978–1984

by Riad Sattouf, translated from the French by Sam Taylor

The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984–1985

by Riad Sattouf, translated from the French by Sam Taylor
The most astonishing thing about The Arab of the Future, Riad Sattouf’s deft and devastating graphic memoir of his first seven years of life, is that he managed to write and publish it without getting killed. Born in Paris in 1978, the son of a Syrian Sunni father and a …

The Last Irascible

Life magazine’s portrait of the Abstract Expressionist artists known as ‘The Irascibles,’ 1951. 
Front row: Theodore Stamos, Jimmy Ernst, Barnett Newman, James Brooks, and Mark Rothko; middle row: Richard Pousette-Dart, William Baziotes, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell, and Bradley Walker Tomlin; back row: Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Ad Reinhardt, and Hedda Sterne
At the summit of “The Irascibles,” Life magazine’s 1951 portrait of the Abstract Expressionist painters, stands an imperious-looking woman, the Romanian-born artist Hedda Sterne. She is the only female in the photograph and, in some sense, the most prominent figure—the “feather on top,” as she once put it. Now, at age one hundred, she is the sole survivor. “I am known more for that darn photo than for eighty years of work,” Sterne told me a few years ago. “If I had an ego, it would bother me.” Plus, she said, “it is a lie.” Why? “I was not an Abstract Expressionist. Nor was I an Irascible.”


Hamlet, My Prince of Pigs

What, another Hamlet? There must be a zillion already: Slang Hamlet, First Folio Hamlet, Compressed Hamlet, No Fear Hamlet. Into this field, I toss Hamlet: Prince of Pigs, a Tragicomic. Why a comic? Because comics and plays are twin arts. Both use visual cues as much as words. Both have abrupt breaks between scenes. And their words are mostly dialogue.

Being Chris Ware

Chris Ware

Chris Ware has a deadpan self-abnegation that is, by all accounts, genuine. But in such an enormous book as this, which is fairly bursting with photographs of his accomplishments and friends, and all the amazing drawings documenting his rise from lonely, fatherless child to fifty-year-old genius, it does seems a terrific struggle to keep the humble pie hot through 275 pages. About halfway through, Ware’s aw-shucks attitude became, at least for me, hard to take. He needn’t be so abashed about all he has done.

‘I Work Against Ego’: The Art of Hedda Sterne

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Hedda Sterne, 1946

In “The Last Irascible,” my new essay in the The New York Review, I write about the idiosyncratic life of the hundred-year-old artist Hedda Sterne, drawing on an interview I recorded with her in 2003. Born in Romania in 1910, Sterne fled German-occupied Bucharest and eventually settled in New York, where she became one of the few women in a circle of Abstract Expressionist painters that included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Franz Kline. But Sterne thought of herself as an anti-Abstract Expressionist, someone with no use for the cult of personality and personal gesture. Rarely did she paint a pure abstraction. In the 1960s she drew lettuce heads as crazy mazes, as if she were a worm inside, investigating. She pointed out that even her webby white-on-white drawings—made in the 1990s, when she was practically blind—represented the “floaters and flashers” across her field of vision. Although major museums acquired her work, and despite having one of the longest exhibition histories of any living artist (seventy years), she is hardly well known. Here is a selection of her work.