Victory Parade is a striking new book written and drawn by the Eisner Award-nominated painter, educator, and graphic-novel creator Leela Corman. Set in Brooklyn, New York, during the tail-end of World War II, Victory Parade initially follows a group of women who are working as welders. One of these women, Rose, has fallen in love with a disabled veteran while her husband, Sam, continues to serve his country in Europe. While Sam is away, Rose lives with her daughter, Eleanor, and a young woman who works with Rose, Ruth, a German Jewish refugee. 

victory parade cover

In her daily struggle to cope with the trauma of what she escaped in prewar Nazi Germany, Ruth gets pulled into the world of women’s professional wrestling, where she ironically adapts the persona of a villainous German heel. 

victory parade wrestling ruth

Rose and Ruth are both fighting to survive, in their own ways, but while Rose’s husband, Sam, eventually returns home to Rose and their daughter, “Ruthless” Ruth unfortunately dies in the wrestling ring at the age of 21. 

After Ruth’s passing, the story shifts, at first showing that Sam’s return to Rose and Eleanor is less than idyllic, and then for the final sections of the graphic novel, the reader is transported to the horrors of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, near Weimer, Germany, where we see what Sam was a witness to, before the book ends in Sam’s taxi cab, back in New York. 

I was initially made aware of Victory Parade because of Ruth’s wrestling subplot, and I’m extremely thankful that is what lead me to this gorgeous and heartbreaking book. No doubt about it, this is a difficult book, featuring imagery depicting abuse, war, and the Holocaust, but it is made into something beautiful and surreal, thanks to Corman’s art.

leela corman art

Victory Parade isn’t just a good book, it’s an important book, in the tradition of Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis.

Victory Parade, by Leela Corman, is available now from Penguin Random House