Kevin Haworth, Visiting Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of English, may have been a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Creative Writing, yet his five books span as many topics as his wide array of interests and research. Now his most recent, "The Comics of Rutu Modan: War, Love, and Secrets" (University of Mississippi Press; April 30) is the first in-depth exploration of the vibrantly-colored work by contemporary, living artist Modan, the acclaimed leader of Israeli comics.

Examining the last several decades in Israel Modan’s art offers a richly-detailed chronicle of the complexities and trauma of individual lives — as well as of a country and a geography — usually only expressed to the world through perfunctory (and often too quickly-forgotten) news headlines.

Haworth’s The Comics of Rutu Modan is both a close reading of Modan’s work and a review of her influence creating an Israeli comics arts scene in Israel. “This research brought together many long-time interests of mine: comics studies, Hebrew language, the Israeli history and culture that has been so often a focus of my writing,” said Haworth. “Because they connect ‘low culture’ and ‘high culture’, comics provided me with the opportunity to examine Israeli society through a diverse and creative lens.”

Based on new interviews with Modan (b. 1966) and other comics artists, Haworth's research indicates the key role of Actus Tragicus, the collective that changed Israeli comics forever and launched her career. The book shows how Modan's work grew from experimental mini-comics to critically acclaimed graphic novels, delving into the creative process behind her collections Exit Wounds and The Property. Haworth's work also analyzes how the recurring themes of family secrets and absence weave through her stories, and how she adapts the famous clear line illustration style to her morally complex tales.

“In teaching Modan’s work here at CMU, I’ve found students to be deeply interested in her complex characters and her sophisticated illustrations,” Haworth added. “Her comics bring up questions of history, ethnic conflicts, gender issues, and other subjects that give my writing students opportunities to engage and develop their thinking and writing skills.”

Kevin Haworth is author of four other books: the novel The Discontinuity of Small Things (winner of the Samuel Goldberg Foundation Prize and first runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize); the essay collection Famous Drownings in Literary History; the limited-edition chapbook Far Out All My Life; and a collection of essays about writing, Lit from Within: Contemporary Masters on the Art and Craft of Writing, coedited with Dinty W. Moore and named an American Library Association Outstanding Title.