Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Graphic Novels 2011 Reading Challenge... What is a Graphic Novel Exactly?

Step out of your comfort zone... read a graphic novel! What exactly is a graphic novel? A graphic novel is a basically a narrative that tells its story combining the use of artwork with the written word. It has a beginning, middle and end just like any good book, but the added element of illustrations puts a different spin on it. Some say that "graphic novel" refers to the fact that the story would be a novel if it didn't have the added artwork.

What's the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book? Author Jeff Smith, in an interview with states, "graphic novel"... I don't like that name. It's trying too hard. It is a comic book. But there is a difference. And the difference is, a graphic novel is a novel in the sense that there is a beginning, a middle and an end." But there is some debate... In a 2000 interview with, author Alan Moore says "It's a marketing term. I mean, it was one that I never had any sympathy with. The term "comic" does just as well for me. The term "graphic novel" was something that was thought up in the '80s by marketing people... The problem is that "graphic novel" just came to mean "expensive comic book". And Author Neil Gaiman, responding to a claim that he does not write comic books but graphic novels, said the commenter "meant it as a compliment", I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who'd been informed that she wasn't actually a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening.

I can understand the confusion. A long time ago I had this conversation with someone who knew I was a reader and asked if I had ever read any graphic novels. I said you mean, "comic books"? Then they started to point out the differences, why they read them etc. I had the misconception, at the time, that comic books were for kids period. His suggestion was to read Blankets by Craig Thompson, or Bone by Jeff Smith. I picked up that copy of Blankets and was in awe. The coming-of-age story by Craig Thompson was so expressive, even tender, without the need for a lot of narrative. I wasn't a big "Wonder Woman" Super Hero reader (still am not), but I found there were graphic novels that did resonate with my reading tastes., such as the memoirs The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell, Stitches by David Small, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. There are many different types of graphic novels for all sorts of tastes, just as there are many different types of genres in literature. That's one of the beauties of reading- the ability to whisk you away to unfamiliar places. Are graphic novels one of those places for you? Challenge yourself to read a graphic novel this year if you haven't! I'm challenging myself to read more graphic novels by joining the...

hosted by Vasilly of Thoughts of an Eclectic Reader.

Here's how you can participate:

* The challenge starts January 1, 2011 and ends December 31, 2011. You can start anytime you want to especially if you want to start early.

* The level of participation: Beginner (3 comics or graphic novels),
Intermediate (3-10 books),
Expert (10+)

* Feel free to post your list at any time

Sound like fun? You can sign up by visiting: The 2011 Graphic Novels Challenge site. I've decided to go for the Intermediate level this time around, with my goal of at least 3 graphic novels. One graphic novel that is a definite on my list is Maus by Art Spiegelman, the well known graphic novel about the Holocaust, as told to the author by his father a holocaust survivor. I'll be listing the graphic novels read and the links to the reviews here, so you can stop back and follow my progress. Maybe even find a suggestion for something new to read!

Graphic Novels Read for the Challenge:

Brody's Ghost by Mark Crilley... Talia is sassy, young and dead. She's a ghost with a problem- she's been banned from heaven. UNLESS, she can do a super good deed. She decides what's better than solving the Penny murders- a series of unsolved murders involving young women and terrorizing the city. But she needs help- she needs someone who can communicate with the dead girls to lead her to the murderer. After a long search (ghostseers are pretty rare in the human world) she finds Brody. Not a promising prospect, kind of a slacker, but the only ghostseer she's found in 5 years. Now she's got to convince him that he is what he is, and convince him to help her. A real reluctant hero, and one who you're going to love to watch his transformation. This is the first book in the series, and a fun introduction to what will surely be a great story. Read my full review of Brody's Ghost by Mark Crilley to learn more!


Vasilly said...

I'm so glad that you've signed up for this challenge! I definitely agree with you on Blankets, Bone, Stitches, and Persepolis. I love those books. The Imposter's Daughter is such an engaging read. I see that we have similar tastes in graphic novels. I'll be cheering you on throughout the challenge!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Vasilly!
Thanks for the warm welcome! And I look forward to reading all your recommendations on the challenge site! I've already started a "wish list"! :-)

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