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Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography Hardcover – November 11, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—Using a variety of sources, including Duncan's autobiographical writings, Jones provides context for her examination of this complex woman. It includes recognition of the differing sensibilities of Americans, Europeans, and Asians of the time that spanned the turn of the 20th century through the opening years of the Roaring Twenties, as well as the individuals closest to Duncan: siblings, lovers, students. There were many visual artists and theater people who admired Duncan's energy and insight, among them Ashcan painter Abraham Walkowitz. His thousands of sketches and paintings of the dancer in full flight served as resource material for Jones. Duncan, in her flowing Grecian gowns and unfastened hair, is depicted bounding across multiple panels on many pages in Jones's often witty black-and-white images. This is a fine and balanced account for dancers, artists, and those interested in American rebels.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Isadora Duncan and comics have a great deal in common: convention defying, boundary breaking, innovative, and seductive as hell. Which is why comics are the perfect vehicle to transmit her remarkable story. Sabrina Jones's drawings dance across the page and capture this compelling history.” ―Peter Kuper, cartoonist and cofounder of World War 3 Illustrated

“At last, a comic for the rest of us! With bold brush strokes, Sabrina Jones delineates the riveting tale of Isadora Duncan, a real life superheroine who controlled her own body, her own life, and her own mind, back in the days when most women were corseted, voteless, and stuck in the kitchen. Jones' pages are as elegant and graceful as the heroine of her biography.” ―Trina Robbins, author of Tender Murderers and The Brinkley Girls: The Life and Times of Nell Brinkley (forthcoming)

“Told with economy, precision, and humor, Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography is an impressive debut.” ―Harvey Pekar

“An admiring glance at the truncated life and roller-coaster times of the woman who traversed three continents to revolutionize dance.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“It looks like a comic book, and it is a ton of fun. But Sabrina Jones's graphic depiction of the life of Isadora Duncan is also a serious work of biography . . . In just 125 fluidly drawn pages, Jones brings Duncan's astonishing creativity, revolutionary fervor and romantic disasters to life.” ―Lynn Jacobson, The Seattle Times

“An effective and surprisingly economical portrait of one of the seminal figures in dance and culture of the past 100 years.” ―Michael Gill, Cleveland Free Times

“A fine and balanced account for dancers, artists, and those interested in American rebels.” ―Francisca Goldsmith, School Library Journal

“In her debut graphic biography, Jones captures Duncan's dramatic story in an impressive fashion. Who knew plain black-and-white illustrations could come so alive, so full of movement and feeling?” ―Laura Koffler, Feminist Review

“One delight after another emerges.” ―Ken Keuffel, Winston-Salem Journal

“Illustration is an ideal medium for relating Duncan's life and art . . . The head thrown back in ecstasy, or her whole body whooshed sideways as if caught on the wind--here a picture speaks a thousand words.” ―Mary Hodges, The Brooklyn Rail


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; First Edition edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809094975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809094974
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sabrina Jones has been writing and illustrating comics since the Reagan era. As a young art student, she was alarmed by the threats to women's reproductive rights, and joined a group of pro-choice activist artists called Carnival Knowledge. Wanting to cover women's issues in World War 3 Illustrated, editor Seth Tobocman convinced Sabrina to create her first comic strip. She has gone on to edit and contribute to many issues, including Bitchcraft, Female Complaints, and Life During Wartime.

In the 1990s she co-founded Girltalk, an anthology of women's autobiographical comics, published by Fantagraphics.

She has created nonfiction comics for Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, Verso, 2005; The Real Cost of Prisons Project, 2006; Mixed Signals, a counter-recruitment tool in comic book form, Studs Terkel's Working: A Graphic Adaptation, The New Press, 2009; and FDR and the New Deal for Beginners, 2010.
Her first complete book is Isadora Duncan, A Graphic Biography, Hill & Wang, 2008.
She is working on a graphic adaptation of Race to Incarcerate, by Marc Mauer and the Sentencing Project.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Sabrina moved to New York to study painting at Pratt Institute, and later got an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. She now lives in Brooklyn with novelist Steve Stern, and two cats, Percy and Jezebel. She paints scenery for film, theater and television, as a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I came to this book knowing a few things about Isadora Duncan, namely that she spawned the "Isadorables;" that her style of dance, which was supposed to be free of training and structure, evolved into a new form of dance altogether in which students can now train and learn choreography that is passed down from body to body much in the way that ballet, which she despised for its "rigidness," has been for centuries; and that she was kind of a boozer. Basically, I know the kinds of things they tell you at the beginning of a modern dance class held during a summer workshop for ballet dancers.

All of these things are laid out beautifully in the book. But there is so much more! Isadora traveled the (Western, including Russia) world, to showcase her dancing. She gave political performances, that were not all that well-received, and yet she gave them over and over again because she believed in what she had to say. She was a professional dancer who GOT PREGNANT without ending her career. She started schools for underprivileged girls in Europe where they could learn to dance (be "Isadorables") and eat three square meals a day free of charge.

She also had the first historically recorded wardrobe malfunction and a rather scandalous string of lovers. As Jones says, we all have Isadora to thank for the widespread acceptance of "comfortable dress and serial monogamy" (125).

Throughout this biography, Jones manages to balance Isadora's personal, professional and family personas. Rather than focusing on just the scandal, just the ground-breaking accomplishments, just the prevalent eccentricities, Jones shows how each was affected and usually enhanced by the others.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating life story, great for telling in the graphic novel form. The art style, to me, is pitch perfect. Somewhat reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi but more graceful/loose. Works well for a dancer's story! I am glad to have this in my graphic novel collection.
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Format: Hardcover
Great for adults and children. Sabrina Jones is a talented artist and writer. She has done all the drawings by hand! Read about the extraordinary life of Isadora Duncan. Marvel at the drawings! A fun and informative read! Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
The first thing I liked about this book was the frontispiece, which is a beautifully drawn map of the places that Isadora Duncan traveled to. Then, you are treated to a fast - paced wittily drawn story of her life. There are little known but telling facts - myths busted - and a clear eyed view of the choices and obstacles women faced in those days. Makes you want to dance - or travel - or both.
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