In defense of the Graphic Novel

At the beginning of this month, I attended the South Island Children and
Young Adult Librarians Conference 2010  (yes, it exists) where I had the pleasure of meeting Wayne Mills. Mr Mills is senior lecturer at the School of Arts, Languages and Literacies at Auckland University as well as the originator of the fantastic Kids’ Lit Quiz, an interactive literary quiz which has spread globally since its beginning in 1991.
He changed the subject of his presentation last minute and decided to talk about why libraries are important to an audience that was already fervently in favour of that cause. I was disappointed because I really wanted to hear what he has to say about Boys and Literacy.

(Graphic) Novels can be good

Mr. Mills is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s foremost authorities on children’s and young adult books and I found it interesting when he advocated for graphic novels and… boy! did this cause a reaction amongst the attendees!
I agree with Mr Mills in that, as any other genre of literature, graphic novels can be good or bad; I don’t think it’s fair to put them all in the same bag, exempli gratia is Maus: a survivor’s tale  by Art Spiegelman, which even won the Pulitzer Prize Special Award.

Love them… Hate them… What’s your favourite graphic novel?
It might be technically considered a comic but I quite like Tintin by Hergé and I can’t wait for Spielberg to finish the movie!

6 thoughts on “In defense of the Graphic Novel

  1. richard 23 March 2010 / 2:27 pm

    Graphic novels are a great reading option. Many children start their love of reading with picture books – why stop reading stories with pictures just because you’re older? Lots of people appreciate the skill of the illustrators too. Who cares what us old fuddy duddies think? My favourites were old school – Asterix and the Footrot Flats books that seemed to turn up every Christmas.

  2. Owen 24 March 2010 / 10:40 am

    For adult readers may I recommend the Sandman novels by Neil Gaimen. Not your usual superhero graphic novels, but thought provoking and beautiful in places ( tell me you don’t think delerium is a great but sad character).

    • richard 24 March 2010 / 12:03 pm

      He signed for three-and-a-half hours at Wellington – surely a good indicator that there’s something good on offer!

  3. Steve Orme 25 March 2010 / 3:19 pm

    Being an avid reader of graphic novels I wholeheartedly agree that this medium has a lot to offer adult readers who do not go much for the conventional story/novel in written form. I have read all the Sandman series and a lot of other works by Neil Gaiman and have enjoyed them all. There are many graphic novels in series/volumes such as The Walking Dead and the Preacher series. I have read these two from cover to cover and have been absorbed in them totally. They are well written and are in a style which just make you want to keep reading. I have also read novels that I would not normally have an interest in, such as Murder On The Orient Express, purely because it was availabale in graphic novel format. Even some comic book heroes have been adapted well to the proper graphic novel format. For example, I have read all of the Daredevil series and can tell you that there is a lot of character development you would expect within a traditional novel. There are many twists and turns and they are written well enough for you to empathise with the characters and gain a better understanding of they’re situations. An added bonus of this genre is that there are a lot of superb and stunning artworks involved with many of the books and they are worth looking at one just for that reason, the tone is sometimes set just by the artwork alone. All in all, I totally recommend anyone to pick up a graphic novel and give it a go!

  4. Iona 26 March 2010 / 12:00 pm

    As a kid, I read plenty of “graphic novels” although I think back then they were called comics. Recently I delved briefly back into the world of com…er…graphic novels and read “Logicomix” which was recomended by an earlier CCL blog. What an easy way to consume what is most definitly a super heavy subject, that is, the historical development of the underlying philosophies of mathematics…phew! A picture says a thousand words, after all.

  5. ma1co1m 1 April 2010 / 12:55 pm

    as an avid comic book reader, it always makes me laugh when people try to make the distinction that they read graphic novels, not comics (do they think this makes them sound smarter or something?). they’re the same thing people!! sandman, preacher, daredevil, walking dead… all comics! sure the library only holds the collected editions of these titles but they are just that… collected editions of the (usually) monthly issues. and don’t get me started on people bagging super-hero comics as some low-brow medium.

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