July 28, 2018

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Graphic Nonfiction: Alexa Strabuk on "Crowded Living"

Welcome back to another edition of Graphic Nonfiction, our periodic look at the use of comics to talk about real-world issues. Comics are a powerful way to not just tell, but show the problems, challenges, and successes of our lives and the world around us.

Our example today comes from Alexa Strabuk, who indicated that this is her very first attempt at comics journalism, taking a personal topic (housing in an expensive city) and looking at how people in Seattle and other cities are taking on the task of finding a way to live as costs rise.

Leading off with her personal story, Strabuk moves quickly into discussing her limited options (tiny place, live with family, hope no one in that Craigslist ad is a creeper), and how an increasing number of Americans (16% by her research) are living in non-romantic situations with others.


As you can see, Strabuk is still a little text-heavy, using the illustrations to supplement the text, instead of vice versa. But I like her panel structure and repetition of images:

Look at the cool way she illustrates the phone call in the first panel, or the hearts to indicate the discussion of health among Mexican immigrants. The repeated hearts is a really nice touch. You can see that she's gaining confidence in the linework as she goes, which is kinda neat to see in real time on the electronic page.

I encourage you to read the entire thing here, and to keep an eye on Stabuk. It's always great to see more voices added to the graphic nonfiction world, and I'm definitely looking forward to what she tackles next, either for Yes or another publication.