Graphic novels, serious literature

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There’s something effortless about the enjoyment we get from graphic novels. The spare nature of still images, combined with brief text, evokes a visual poetry that only this form of art can do. These books are complex, wry, and often sad.

This week’s Publisher’s Weekly interviews the librarian Kat Kan, who has edited a new reference collection on graphic novels. Regarding the positive role of comics in schools and public libraries, she states, “I think comics should be used as more than literacy tools—they provide a wonderful springboard for creative writing, for art, for use in science and social studies, even math….”

When is it a comic book and when is it a graphic novel? Ask Chris Ware, whose Acme Novelty Library #20: Lint topped Publisher’s Weekly comics critics’ poll for 2010. Ware's book follows the very ordinary life of its protagonist from birth to death. Reviewer Joshua O'Neill writes, "...The breadth of humanity between the sensitive child hoping for a pair of stilts for his birthday and the sex-obsessed narcissist who sabotages himself at every turn is stunning and flawlessly imagined. LINT may be empty of meaning, but it’s full of truth."

Graphic Novel Reporter gives its own list, topped by ten core must-reads for adults.

In 2011, expect to see more available titles and apps for graphic novels and nonfiction on eReaders and tablet computers.