What do graphic novels about architecture bring to our understanding of the urban experience?
... They suggest that buildings can be like our memories — they hide as much as they show.
Among the many tomes that deal with the built environment, several stand out. There are the Batman books by various artist/illustrators (especially by the esteemed Italian comics artist Enrico Marini), a well-drawn Spanish language book about Mies van der Rohe entitled Mies, and the work of Ben Kantor in his weekly series for the Daily Forward, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer. Some of Marini’s Gotham City depictions are as grand and awe-inspiring as renderings of the ‘urban heroic’ by the celebrated Huge Ferris. In contrast, Kantor depicts the physical decay, municipal grittiness, and dense cultural/political resonances generated by the disconnection between those who build and those who use the built environment.
Three graphic novels about architecture are worthy of recommendation: Arterios Polyp, Robert Moses: The Master Builder, and The Structure Is Rotten, Comrade. Each book cleverly explores the highs and lows of architectural theory as well as urban planning and design. They also delve into the practice of the craft.