Syncopated by Brendan Burford


The stories in Syncopated challenge convention, provide perspective, and search out secret truths–all in the inviting, accessible form of comics.Syncopated will give you a daringly different view of the past–from the history of vintage postcards to the glory days of old Coney Island. It will immerse you in fascinating subcultures, from the secret world of graffiti artists to the chess champs of Greenwich Village. And it will open your eyes to...

Details Syncopated

Release DateMay 19th, 2009
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comics, Nonfiction, Writing, Essays, Adult, Graphic Novels Comics, History, Short Stories, Anthologies, Graphic Non Fiction

Reviews Syncopated

  • David Schaafsma
    A collection of short graphic non-fiction, ranging from reportage on Gitmo to The Dvorak typewriter to How and Why to Bale Hay and so on. So the art is good and varied throughout and the tone switches dramatically as one expects with collections, but I like the idea of graphic essays and it works well here. Wlll read more like it.
  • Daniel Watkins
    Beautiful and moving essays in comic form. Very much worth reading.
  • Bryce Holt
    This was a phenomenal collection of stories for its historical relevance rather than its graphical prowess. In fact, forget the graphical portrayal (which I've been harangued for overindulging in recently) that is ultimately the only bond any of these stories have. Rather, look at these small vignettes as an introduction to lesser known pieces of our historical calendar. The historical relevance of a different layout to the typewriter/keyboard......
  • Eileen Breseman
    A graphical/comic style collection of authors' short works along with a fair amount of text for many. Themes are highly varied from learning to bale hay, prisoner torture at Gitmo, W.Side tunnel artists, Coney Island, musician busker sketches from NY subway, Dvorak typing keyboard, & more. I learned a lot of unique true stories, serious, funny, sad, inspirational, introspective. It's easy to digest the 149 pages in a sitting or two. The book titl...
  • Kari
    I was attracted to the nonfiction aspect of this book as I don't typically choose graphic novels. The stories and illustrations were varied and intriguing--I can't imagine any other way I'd be interested in hay-baling! The essays are short and easily consumed; I finished the book in one sitting.
  • Ian Carpenter
    Odd, fun, cool. So many real life stories in here that I was surprised to find myself interested in or moved by.
  • Krista Park
    A nice collection of graphic essays. I really enjoyed the painful history lesson on the Tulsa race riots/masacre and the art of the Westside NYC Subway tunnels. I highly recommend.
  • Geoff Sebesta
    Interesting without being fascinating. Would have benefited from a stronger editorial vision and some artistic consistency.
  • Michael
    Pretentious title, but some pretty solid works inside. Nothing essential, but it's solid comics.
  • Deke
    I wish there were more books like this, as the graphic non fiction essay shows such promise (with books like Maus and Persepolis good examples of longer form)
  • Raina
    A compliation of nonfiction "picto-essays" - basically nonfiction essays in graphic novel form. There's everything in here from a summary of the history of postcards, to illustration of the gitmo torture documents, to a series of portraits of buskers in the NY subway system. Great range, I wanted more, and couldn't believe it was over when it was. Unique slices of life include the story of Boris Rose, a guy who recorded an incredible collection o...
  • Inge
    Usually anthologies are a mixed-bag quality-wise. You read them knowing that you're going to hit a few duds along the way, and that you need to sort through those in order to find the diamonds in the rough. Syncopated has no such duds. While some of the picto-essays shine a bit brighter than the others, each entry has something to offer. Some illustrate miniature history lessons, while others are more like tiny memoirs. High points include "Boris...
  • Rick
    In his introduction editor Brendan Burford explains, "[S:]yncopation literally means that an accent or stress is placed on the weak beat between the usually dominant beats. When music is syncopated, it can offer a whole new perspective on rhythm." Using this definition as a guide, Burford compiled a diverse collection of quality stories. Some of the tales such as the excellent "How and Why to Bale Hay" by Nick Bertozzi offer uniquely personal his...
  • Lee Klein
    The best (only) anthology of essayistic comics I've ever read. No real clunkers. Sometimes sort of "meh" form- and content-wise, other times more interesting (graffiti artists in old train tunnels under Riverside Drive park; a profile of a long-time Washington Square chess player; the Tulsa race riots). Most were straight-up, reliable etc, but often seemed thin (unlike essays in the New Yorker etc, per some reviews/blurbs). Not sure if the form w...
  • Craig
    SYNCOPATED is named for the editor's interest in jazz music. And that is exactly what we get here: often discordant, but complimentary notes that come together in a pleasant, challenging package. As with any anthology (and I've edited them myself, so this is not shade), there is generally a mixed bag of items. However, here, the mixed bag is exactly what it seems like the editor was going for. While not all of the stories grab me or will be memor...
  • Damon
    This volume has an example of one of my favorite kinds of story - the "lost treasure" story, where someone has created or collected something that no one else has, something that without this one person would never have existed and that even despite this person, no one really knows about. I don't know why, really - maybe it's just that I'm a compulsive collector, but I'm always fascinated by stories like this, even when the content of the lost co...
  • Sarah Hunter
    This book is a collection of "nonfiction picto-essays" and for the most part I really enjoyed it. There is some really interesting stuff in here about international adoption, state sanctioned torture, graffiti artists in New York, and lots of other topics. The content is incredibly varied, in both style and subject, and the only criticism I have of it is that an awful lot of the stories take place in New York City. On the other hand, NYC is a pla...
  • Harris
    I didn't really know what to expect when I began reading "Syncopated" but it turned out to be a very interesting collection of comic pieces, or "picto-essays" with themes ranging from the humorous to the sobering, the strange to the mundane. Each comic is extremely evocative in telling its story, even more impressive that each is nonfictional encomp history, memoir, and journalism. With as wide a variety of art styles as topics each piece was as ...
  • Jeremy
    Syncopated was my first experience with picto-essays, and I'm lucky I started here. The book is varied, fun, and has something for everyone. Each author has something neat to say. Perhaps the best aspect of the book is that the essays, short though they are, are packed with thought provoking material. Since there's no plot, you're not compeled to hurry through the book and get to the end. Thus, I found myself stopping after each essay to just thi...
  • Sheri S.
    This book includes the work of several graphic artists and covers a range of topics. I appreciated the exposure to the various artists' styles and their approach to their respective issue. One of the picto-essays that I found most interesting was "West Side Improvements" about the artists of the tunnels beneath Riverside Park in New York. It was also fascinating to read about Guantanamo Bay, the background of Erik Erikson and the Dvorak keyboards...
  • Wayne
    As is the case with most anthologies, the stories are uneven. I like 3 of them quite a bit. The first story is my favorite. I t is by an old acquaintance Nick Bertozzi and is called "How And Why To Bail Hay " The reason is because I lived that story. I mean really. I could have written that almost word for word. Same time frame and everything .I was in Virginia though and he was in New England. Fun stuff and vivid memories than will be with me al...
  • P.
    I'd argue that a good number of these aren't "essays" or what I think of as narrative non-fiction. What they are are mostly pleasing to read. The best piece is about the process of hay baling--it uses the graphic form and the first person voice to make what sounded like an utterly boring subject fascinating.The other standout was the piece on Guantanamo. Simple and powerful.There was one that relied on a conversation and info-dumping as its narra...
  • Allie
    Recommended! I have told so many of my co-workers and comics-loving friends about this book! Graphic non-fiction is one of my favorite genres and this did not disappoint. Usually with anthologies there are some weak points, but I thought this was unusually strong. And I thought the weakest essay was by the editor of the book.I think the strength of this collection lies in how far-reaching the topics and how varied the styles are; but they also do...
  • Laura Cushing
    Everything from How to Bale Hay to an adoption story from China - this anthology presents a lot of slice-of-life stories that show unique human perspectives.One of the most fascinating was about Boris Rose who obsessively recorded a lot of early jazz broadcast live on the radio. His family has possession of his recordings - tons of meticulously archived and recorded materials and they've never been heard by anyone but Rose himself. This is a grea...
  • David Stewart
    Some of the essays in here are really good, as well as informative and well drawn. Others feel incomplete and a few are simply illustrations, which might feel at home in a book of pure illustrations (though they aren't artistically good enough to hold up in that kind of collection). I enjoy comic art, but without accompanying words I don't think it's nearly as effective. But, the good essays make up for the not so good ones. The one about the Dvo...
  • Carmine
    Worth it for 'How and Why to Bail Hay' which brought back many memories of working on the neighbors' farms. Also enjoyable was the piece on the history of postcards and Dvorak- a bit of NW history I hadn't heard of- the quest to build a more efficent keyboard for typing and the tragic tale of why it never took off.
  • Patrick
    This is what a GN should aspire to! Out of 17 entries, there were only 2 I found uninteresting. The story on hay-baling took me right back to my shildhood, the story on Guantanamo had simplistic art, but a strong storyline. I studied Erik Erickson in college and never knew this about him! Never knew about Boris Rose! A great read, especially for people interested in NYC history!
  • Terre
    The very concept of this book I heartily endorse: a series of picto-essays from different authors on different subjects. What unites them? The graphic format and the desire to share some opinion or slice of life. While the different contributions were of varying quality, the overall package is very interesting, and I look forward to more of Syncopated.
  • Bogi Takács
    A very pleasant surprise, a volume of nonfiction comics and other graphic work. In comics anthologies I usually dislike at least one third of the offerings, but this one was a collection of hits with very few misses. An added bonus is that the works reflect both on urban and rural life in the US. I picked this book up at the library more or less at random and I ended up very happy I'd done so.
  • Richard
    The title of this book jumps through ridiculous hoops to avoid calling itself comics. Picto-essay is perhaps the dumbest term yet. However, I do think there is a lack of non-fiction comics (at least other than bad autobiography) so it is nice to see this short collection. Like all anthologies this one is a mixed bag, but leans toward the quality over the crummy.