Recommended reads from artist Jim Keefe

Jim KeefeAs part of this month’s Notable Community Reader Series, we heard from Minneapolis-based artist Jim Keefe. Currently the artist of Sally Forth, Keefe is also the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip (both are available at A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe also teaches Comic Art. His teaching and speaking engagements have included the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, the University of Minnesota, and most recently, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Jim was kind enough to share some of his favorite books, focusing his recommendations on comics and their creators:

Artist Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe poses with fans

Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, by Todd Depastino

Bill Mauldin is probably best known for his WWII cartoons featuring Willie and Joe. Meant for the front line soldiers they portrayed, the cartoons gave people stateside a little clearer window into the GI’s world. Mauldin would go on throughout his career to speak out for the little guy, and to also skewer anyone in a position of power that needed a kick in the ass.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe

Marvel Comics – beyond the facade that Stan Lee has presented as pitchman for the company. Howe’s book is an in-depth and well-researched account of the company’s inner workings, warts and all.

Leaping Tall Buildings, by Christopher Irving

Leaping Tall Buildings showcases some of the best and most influential creators throughout the comic industry’s history. Seth Kushner’s photographs are worth the price of admission alone.

Mastering Comics, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

A book on “how to create comics” for people who can’t be bothered with just getting their feet wet – a veritable wealth of information.

Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know, by Paul Gravett

For the comic enthusiast who may be unfamiliar with what the medium has to offer. Gravett covers the popular mainstays along with recommendations broken down into different genres – a great resource guide.

It Was the War of the Trenches, by Jacques Tardi

An uncompromising look at World War I trench warfare. Through a series of vignettes Tardi deglamorizes the war and shows the inhumanity, insanity and hell of it all.

The Rocketeer – Jetpack Treasury Edition, by Dave Stevens

Available for the first time in a large treasury edition, Dave Stevens hits it out of the park with this action packed, beautifully illustrated comic masterpiece.

Yossel, by Joe Kubert

Born a Polish Jew, Joe Kubert (Fax from Sarajevo, Sgt. Rock) imagines what would have happened had his family NOT been able to immigrate to America when he was born – and what life would have been like under Nazi rule.

From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

Alan Moore (Watchman, V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) tells the story of Jack the Ripper. Moore weaves a vast tapestry of events into a story that lays bare the mind of a madman. Masterfully illustrated by Eddie Campbell.

Sea Change: A Choose-Your-Own-Way Story, by Caitlin Skaalrud

Caitlin Skaalrud is a Minneapolis-based cartoonist and graduate of MCAD. This Xeric Award winning graphic novel is published by her own comics micro-press, Talk Weird Press. An amazing talent and an amazing book.