As a reader, one of the best things to happen in my life was being forced to read a graphic novel for my young adult literature class in library school. I thought comics were strictly superhero fare, which is fantastic for some, but was never really my cup of tea. Little did I know that there is a whole world of comics, graphic novels, and manga! Some of it can be categorized as superhero, others are realistic fiction, some are horror–there is a plethora of choices when it comes to the wonderful world of sequential art!
Sequential Art is a catchall term that includes 3 separate formats*:
Comic Books: juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.
Graphic Novels: a book-length comic.
Manga: Japanese print comics.
Of these three categories, I am an avid reader of graphic novels and I can tell you that they are just as rewarding for an adult female reader as they are for teen males (often seen as their target audience). Graphic novels are as varied as new fiction titles and have something to offer everyone. The art work differs dramatically depending on the artist and the writing is incredibly effective in its simplicity and sparseness.
If you aren’t already a fan of sequential art, then now is the time to become one! This astounding art form is finally being recognized for its merits as a legitimate and entertaining form of literature. Recently, Gene Yang’s graphic novel American Born Chinese won the Printz Award for excellence in writing for a young adult audience. Many public libraries are actively buying graphic novels, as well as comic books and manga, and most of these have separate sections in their collection specifically for this genre. At OWL our graphic novel section (which also includes manga) is located at the beginning of the young adult collection (and don’t worry if you’re not a young adult–it’s fine for you to browse there, too).
Fans of sequential art are pouring out of the woodwork! The NY Comic Con had to make serious adjustments after their first year at the Javits Center in 2006, because of the unprecedented number of fans who wanted to attend. At the 2007 Comic Con activities ranged from workshops for librarians to special guests like Stephen Colbert and Stephen King (who is adapting his Dark Tower series into graphic novel form). There were also some of the comic community’s heavy hitters in attendance, including writers Brian K. Vaughn and Stan Lee.
As a librarian, I believe that there is a book out there for everyone. I firmly believe that this truism applies to graphic novels as well. Come in and check one out today!
Watchmen by Alan Moore YA MOO GRAPHIC
The Tale of One Bad Rat by Brian Talbot YA TAL GRAPHIC
Blankets by Craig Thompson YA THO GRAPHIC
Fray by Joss Whedon YA WHE GRAPHIC
*Definitions were culled from the website www.noflyingnotights.com which is a wonderful tool for readers, librarians, teachers and parents.
~Tricia is the youth librarian at OWL and loves books, movies, Motown, Bowie, knitting, blogging, graphic novels and learning how to be a better cook.