Monday, July 30, 2012

Graphic novels

(C) Art Spiegleman,

Graphic novels represent a unique partnership between words and art. They are especially appealing to reluctant readers.

  • Sturdy, lengthy comic book
  • Single story OR
  • Told through sequential art
  • Series of inter-related stories
Other terms
  • Trade comics
  • Commix
  • Graphic album
  • Illu-novel
  • Gekiga
  • Anime
  • More expensive than regular comics
    o Do not sell as well
  • Less familiar to traditional comic buyers
    o Considered less collectable
  • But ... sturdier, easier to handle
  • Add interest and depth to your collection
  • Preferred reading choice of many intermediate/young adult readers
  • Have their own language
    o Creators juxtapose pictures and words to create new images
    o Use words and pictures in a new way
    o Represent a unique partnership between art and words
The Role of the artist
  • Like a movie director
    o Breaks down the action into individual panels
    o Composes each panel
    o Controls timing of story
  • Supplies settings and descriptions: visually
    o Uses shadow, angle, setting and costume
    o Not a series of separate illustrations
    o Must flow seamlessly
The Role of the writer
  • Creates the original story
    o Like writing a (screen)play
  • Must understand the interplay between art and text
    o Text should not distract from the art or vice versa
  • Good writing is essential: strong story line
    o Create a seamless whole
  • One cannot exist without the other
Evaluation criteria: the art
  • Must balance text against the art
  • Style of art
  • Art appropriate to the story?
  • Things mentioned in text that should have been illustrated?
  • Does the art distract from the story?
  • OR does the text distract from the art?
  • Words and art
    o Are interdependent?
  • How does the artist handle the “talky bits”?
  • Do the illustrations ...
    o Provide subtle commentary on words?
    o Move the story forward?
  • Elements in text that should have been illustrated?
  • Look for a balance between the art and the words
    o Should not distract from one another
  • Illustrations should reflect a high standard
    o Technically, artistically
  • Cover illustration
    o Appropriate for content?
Evaluation: overall
  • Book itself
    o Physically well produced and attractive?
  • Story line
    o Coherent, imaginative, interesting, well written?
  • Language
    o Accessible and appropriate?
  • Treatment of race, gender, social class?
    o Problem with older books
  • Violence
    o Natural or gratuitous?
  • Text
    o Legible or obscured by pictures?
Younger readers: Tintin
  • Created in 1929 by Georges Remi, started as PamPam
    o Nazi sympathizer
    o Didn’t like kids
  • Signed his work: Herge
  • Began life as a newspaper supplement
    o For children
    o The stories sold
  • Adventures: investigate reporter
    o Timeless
  • Precise drawing style
    o Clear line rendering with few shadows
    o Very detailed drawings
  • Well plotted stories
    o Combine both dramatic action and humour
  • Sells about 3 million books a year
    o 36 different languages
    o Merchandising
    * Montréal
    o Movies and animated television stories
Some cautions
  • Portrayal of women
    o Purpose to serve men
    o It was the era
  • Depiction of racial minorities
  • Right-wing politics
    o Behind the story
    o Kids won’t remember
  • Captain Haddock
    o Drinks
    o Smokes
Younger readers: Asterix
  • Originally French
  • Most famous Gaul in history
    o With companion Obelix
  • Second most famous comic in Europe
  • Creators were influenced by MAD magazine
  • Rewrites ancient history
    o Focus mainly on run-ins with the Romans around 50 B.C.
  • Many visual and verbal puns
    o Might need explaining
  • Satire, parodies of classics
    o References to other stories
  • Has endured the same criticism as Tintin
  • Judge for yourself
Younger readers: Marcia Williams
  • Retells hero tales and legends through graphic novels
  • Very distinctive cartooning style
  • Very bright, colourful books
  • Painless introduction to classics
Intermediate readers: Elfquest
  • Best selling independent comic
    o Winner of every major comics award
  • First published in black and white
    o Now collected and printed in colour
    o Beautifully detailed illustrations
  • Tells the story of the Wolfriders
    o Conflict with humans
  • Follows pattern of traditional quest
For young adults: Maus
  • Pulitzer Prize winner
    o Unusual
    o First – and only – graphic novel winner
  • Shows persecution of Jews during World War II
  • Distinctive characters
    o Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, etc.
  • Story is framed in present-day New York
  • Artist’s father tells his story of survival in concentration camps
  • Black and white illustrations
  • Unusual perspective
    o With angles
Reasons for including
  • Appeal to all ages
  • Especially intermediate and young adult
  • Assist poor readers
    o Offer fast-paced action, dramatic conflict, heroic adventure
  • Encourage unmotivated readers
  • Special appeal for gifted students
  • Connect with visual learners
    o Use powerful images with strong emotional appeal
  • Develop strong language arts skills
  • Stimulate readers to explore other literature
    o Link modern superheroes with other culture heroes
  • Promote visual literacy
    o Develop critical eye for art and artistic styles
  • Fear challenges
    o Unfound
    o BUT age appropriate
    * Watch what titles are brought
  • Generate favourable publicity
    o Provide focal point for young adult programming
  • Junk literature
    o Meet needs of community
    o Many serious works
    o Unique form of popular culture
    o Different ways of storytelling
  • Inappropriate messages
    o Violence, sexism, anti-social behaviour, hatred, etc.
    o Identify comics and graphic novels that are appropriate for users
    o Many positive role models
    * Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman
  • Using one’s abilities to help others
  • The value of perseverance, striving to be your best
  • Won’t hold up to library use
    o Treat as current browsing collection
    o Collect trade paperback collections
    o Extend shelf life
    * Plastic magazine covers
  • Fear of theft
    o Deface slightly
    * Stamp library name on margin or inside cover
    * Punch small hole in cover
    * Valueless to collectors
  • May bring about an increase in holdings
    o Patrons donate unwanted comics
Selection concerns
  • Age appropriate
    o Comics Code Authority
  • Educate yourself
    o Seek guidance/preview all comics
    o Reviews, websites, journals, retailers, patrons
    o Reference catalogues
  • Recognize authors, publishers who use mature themes
Selection criteria
  • Popularity
  • Tie ins
    o Television
    o Movies
    o Video games
    o Toys
  • Age level
  • Genres
  • Writing quality
    o Originality of plot and characters
    o Character development
    o Dialogue
  • Artistic quality
    o Layout
    o Storytelling flow
    o Drawing skill
    o Lettering
    o Colouring
    o Artistic style
  • Reputation of writer and artist
  • Reputation of publisher
  • Awards
  • Colour vs black and white
  • Develop statement for collection policy
  • Once scorned
  • Now accepted
  • Significant genre
  • Expand your collection
  • Appeal to all your patrons
Brenner, Robin. The Real Deal. 2002.

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