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Between The Panels: The History And Politics Of Comics And Graphic Novels

For decades, dedicated readers have scoured their local comic book stores for the latest issue of their favorite superhero story. But look past the capes and one will quickly come across comics and graphic novels that offer complex and critical analyses of politics and society. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” to recent issues of “Black Panther,” graphic novels and comics allow readers to engage with dense topics and relate to diverse characters and experiences. 

Guest host Anita Rao talks with Margaret Simon, assistant professor of English at North Carolina State University, about what makes the combination of visuals and text so compelling in comics and graphics novels.

She is also joined by Hope Larson, an Asheville-based graphic novelist, and James Markham, the Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Chair in Public Policy at the University of North Carolina School of Government. Larson’s new book “All Summer Long” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/2018) tells the story of a teenager living in Los Angeles navigating the challenges of adolescence. Markham created a graphic novel about prison to educate young people about the system’s complexities called "In Prison: Serving a Felony Sentence in North Carolina" (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/2017).

Larson speaks about her work as a graphic novelist and "All Summer Long" at Firestorm Books in Asheville on Saturday, August 25 at 3 p.m.

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Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
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