Early morning on Monday, October 9, 2017, wildfires burned through Northern California, resulting in 44 fatalities. In addition, 6,200 homes and 8,900 structures and were destroyed. Author Brian Fies’s firsthand account of this tragic event is an honest, unflinching depiction of his personal experiences, including losing his house and every possession he and his wife had that didn’t fit into the back of their car. In the days that followed, as the fires continued to burn through the area, Brian hastily pulled together A Fire Story and posted it online—it immediately went viral. He is now expanding his original webcomic to include environmental insight and the fire stories of his neighbors and others in his community. A Fire Story is an honest account of the wildfires that left homes destroyed, families broken, and a community determined to rebuild
- 4 out of 5 stars
- 160 pages
- Expected publication: March 5th, 2019 by Harry N. Abrams
- ISBN1419735853 (ISBN13: 9781419735851)
“I inhaled my neighbors’ lives”Excerpt from “A Fire Story by Brian Fies
I have lived through a few things. I have been robbed, my house has caught fire (twice), and I very nearly floated my car in a flash flood. I had to drive on the wrong side of the road and got swept sideways. I have not yet, thankfully, lived through a firestorm and the aftermath. Brian Fies has, however. A Fire Story is a memoir of the experience, pain, fear, regret, and most importantly…hope. His family lost everything. Everything…from pencil to pillar when the Northern California wildfires of 2017 blew through his home and swept away everything but their lives.
A Fire Story is the real world experience of famous Eisner award-winning comic artist and writer, Brian Fies. It starts with the initial smell of a fire, no alarms rang or phones went off. Just the smell of fire and a burning light out in the distance. Then the escape with his family, his dog and cat, and what few belongings he could remember at the moment. Next, is recovery. Being a nomad, the shock and fear of displacement on his animals and how his family rallied together to help them. He talks of starting over, moving on, and trying to rebuild a home both literally and figuratively.
This is a powerful memoir. It makes you stop for a moment, and think about what is truly important. What would you grab? What would you be ok with losing? How do you move on? Graphically, the panels are simply done. Purposefully, not even fully rendered to give the feeling of incompleteness. Even in his use of simplified panels, never think for a moment that emotion, a sense of place and timing are not conveyed. Fies conveys it all and there is a reason why he has won so many awards in the past.
This is a testament to his work as a writer and worth the read.
I received an ebook of this from Eidelweiss+ and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
About the Author
Brian Fies is a science writer, illustrator, and cartoonist whose widely acclaimed first graphic novel, Mom’s Cancer, won the 2005 Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic (the first webcomic to win the award and inaugurate this new category), the Lulu Blooker Prize for Best Comic, the Harvey Award for Best New Talent, and the German Youth Literature Prize, among other awards and recognition. He lives in northern California.
I just read about this book on The Millions – it’s great(?) to hear that it’s as powerful as it seems.
It is. I was very impressed by it. It isn’t so much about action of escaping the fire but the real emotions that happen after one loses everything. It is a great bit of storey telling.