Reading and Discussion “The Thud”: Artist Talk with Mikael Ross

The Thud: Artist Talk with Mikael Ross © Darjush Davar/Fantagraphics

Sat, 04/17/2021


Join Mikael Ross, the author of our April book club title, for a discussion with Professor José Alaniz about his work and his process behind the graphic novel The Thud.

Our Book Klub pick for April is Mikael Ross’ The Thud, a newly released graphic novel from Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics. The Thud offers a unique and empathetic perspective into the life of a boy with developmental disabilities, and we are excited to welcome Ross on April 17 for a conversation about his work with University of Washington Professor José Alaniz, whose research includes portrayals of disabilities in comics.

About the speakers:

Mikael Ross © Avant-Verlag An avid comic reader and cartoonist from an early age, Mikael Ross first came to comics in a roundabout way. Born in Munich in 1984, he initially trained as a theater cutter at the Bavarian State Opera. A move to Berlin and studies at the Berlin-Weißensee Art Academy influenced his first longer story, Herrengedeck, which he self-published in 2008. Together with the Belgian scriptwriter and illustrator Nicolas Wouters, he wrote and drew the graphic novel Les pieds dans le béton (2013), which is set in Berlin’s squatter scene of the Eighties. After extensive research in care institutions, he chronicled the story of Noel, a young man who lives with developmental disabilities, in his graphic novel The Thud (2018). He received the Max & Moritz Prize for "Best German-language Comic" for The Thud in 2020. The English edition was published in March 2021 with Fantagraphics.

José Alaniz © José Alaniz José Alaniz, professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature (adjunct) at the University of Washington, Seattle, has published two monographs, Komiks: Comic Art in Russia (University Press of Mississippi, 2010) and Death, Disability and the Superhero: The Silver Age and Beyond (UPM, 2014); and two co-edited collections, Comics of the New Europe: Reflections and Intersections (with Martha Kuhlman, Leuven University Press, 2020) and Uncanny Bodies: Disability and Superhero Comics (with Scott T. Smith, Penn State University Press, 2019). From 2011 to 2017, he chaired the Executive Committee of the International Comic Arts Forum (ICAF), a leading comics studies conference in the US. His current book projects include Resurrection: Comics in Post-Soviet Russia and a history of Czech graphic narrative.

About the novel:

The Thud (German title: Der Umfall). By Mikael Ross.

When Noel's mother has a stroke, his world is turned upside down. Especially when a man comes, who tells Noel that he can't stay in the only home he's ever known. He has to move from his apartment and his city to some kind of care facility, in a town he's never heard of. For the first time, Noel is on his own. Who can he trust? Who can he love?

There is a village in Germany called Neuerkerode that is largely populated and run by people with developmental disabilities — the local restaurant, the local bar, the local supermarket. It's a beautiful, even incredible place — and it's where The Thud takes place. In 2016, cartoonist Mikael Ross began visiting Neuerkerode. Over the course of two years, Ross learned about the people who live there and listened to their stories. Told from Noel's perspective with humor and empathy, The Thud offers a rare window into the life of a boy living with developmental disabilities. In doing so, Ross has crafted an enchanting story that helps us understand the often misunderstood.

This event will be held over Zoom; register to receive access info.
This event is held in partnership with Fantagraphics and Elliott Bay Book Company.
Also interested in participating in our April book club meeting? RSVP here to join our discussion of The Thud on April 15 at 7pm PDT.