Women in Comics: A Spark Of Creativity

Creativity can mean many different things in different contexts. While artists usually spring to mind as the most obvious examples of those who engage in creativity, they are certainly not the only people for whom creativity is central. This list includes several graphic novels about artists but also a biography of Einstein and a book about the creative process generally. Hopefully this list will help inspire readers to jump start their own creativity.

A sign showing a silhouette of a person making a shushing motion that says "Quiet Please. Creativity in Progress. Thank you"
Creativity in Progress Amanda Hirsch. CC By 2.0

Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography by Sabrina Jones – Though her name may no longer be familiar to everyone, Isadora Duncan was a revolutionary figure in the dance world during her lifetime. In this biography, Jones captures Duncan’s philosophy of dance and manages to use her illustrations to convey the type of motion and movement that Duncan pioneered in the art world. She also dives into the controversy that Duncan’s personal life and political activities caused during a period when women were not often thought of as powerful figures in their own right. This book is sure to fascinate those with an interest in both dance and the strong women of history.

Glenn Gould: A Life Off Tempo by Sandrine Revel – Famed as a pianist of unbelievable talent from a very early age, Glenn Gould is not only a musical and creative genius, but also a perplexing figure. In this biography, Revel, who is herself a famed artist albeit in a very different genre, explores Gould’s life, including not only his artistic career but also his choice to suddenly end his career and disappear from the public eye. This is an enlightening look at a talented but conflicted musician.

California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas by Pénélope Bagieu – Whether you are a fan of folk music or not, you are sure to find something of interest in this biography of Cass Elliot, one of the leads of The Mamas & The Papas. From her early career searching for work on broadway to the height of her fame with the group, readers will get a glimpse into Elliot’s life, ambitions, and talent. Clearly she was a creative powerhouse, but more than this, she was a woman intent on living her own vision of success.

Cover of Isadora DuncanCover of California Dreamin'Cover of Glenn Gould: A Life Off Tempo

Vincent by Barbara Stok – This biography of Vincent van Gogh focuses on his time in Southern France and his struggles with mental illness. Illustrated in bold colors with a simple style, this book not only brings van Gogh alive for readers, but also gives a clear view of his relationships. In particular, Stok highlights van Gogh’s relationship with his brother Theo. The love and support between the brothers comes through clearly and gives readers a window into van Gogh’s life outside of art. This is a great book for both fans of van Gogh’s work and those who are not very familiar with his story.

Cover of VincentCover of EinsteinCover of Syllabus by Lynda Barry

Einstein by Corinne Maier with art by Anne Simon – Creativity can and often does extend beyond the arts. Rarely is this more clear than in the case of Albert Einstein’s, whose creativity combined with his intellect to allow him to take science in whole new directions. This novel blends fun artwork with details of Einstein’s biography to bring his life and his work alive. Though many will know the basic outline of his life, this book highlights some lesser known details and doesn’t gloss over even some of the more negative elements of his story. It is a great read that will be interesting and relatable for both science enthusiasts and those who generally avoid the topic.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry – Last year Lynda Barry was inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame for her many contributions to the field of comics, but this work is a bit different from many of her others. Instead of story, this volume is a collection of writing exercises, notes, creativity advice, and other items that Barry collected and put together while creating and refining her utterly unique workshop called Writing The Unthinkable. This book will make you think about art, writing, and creativity. This is a great read, particularly for those not lucky enough to take Barry’s workshop.

Do you know any other comics about creativity and the creative process? Let me know in the comments!