Thursday, May 7, 2009

Comically Booking Through Thursday

Today's Booking Through Thursday question is serendipitously interesting to me today.
"Last Saturday (May 2nd) was Free Comic Book Day! In celebration of comics and graphic novels, some suggestions: Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them? How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all? Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical”."
The reason this is serendipitous is because today's suggestion of my Book Lover's Page-a-Day Calendar is Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. I wasn't 100% sure this was something I'd like, but I checked it out on GoodReads and then on Amazon.com (where I read the first couple of panels) and had to put it on my wish list. I loved the idea of a graphic memoir.

For those who are on the fence about Graphic Novels/Comics, here are my tips and insights:
  1. I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl, both of which involve much comic enthusiasm and got me interested in the artistry behind comics and graphic novels.
  2. The first graphic novel I read was Watchmen (after I saw the movie because I didn't get around to it before-hand), and I loved it. Generally I don't like reading books after the movie because the adaptation has ruined something for me, but this was so different--graphic novels may just work that way because they're translated better. Actually, Watchmen (as a movie) was an interesting social document, but the graphic novel actually took this further, in my opinion.
  3. I also checked out a book from the library (Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know) about how graphic novels are made and some landmark/"canonical" graphic novels that were pretty inspiring regarding the impetus behind the genre. (Check out a couple of pages of that book on Amazon.com.)
  4. Recently the female blogger at Books on the Nightstand did a post about a graphic novel interpretation of Pride and Prejudice that she picked up for Free Comic Book Day and the link to the artwork panels were superb. I'm considering picking that up to get a different, but accurate, portrayal of this beloved story.
My final input on this subject: The only difference I see between "comics" and graphic novels is what the beginning purpose was. If the beginning purpose was to tell a complete story arc with a beginning, middle, and planned ending, then it's a graphic novel (which may or may not be told via serialized comics, as was more common before the past couple of decades). If the beginning purpose was to create a new character and put them in various and sundry situations without a specific pre-defined plot, then it's a comic. Both have their place (think of the difference between Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series--commercial fiction equivalent of a comic without a planned ending--and Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series--commercial fiction equivalent of a graphic novel with a pre-planned plot arc).

18 comments:

Dot said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! Your post is really good, it has made things a little clearer for me!

JoAnn said...

Great post! I just requested Graphic Novels from my library.

Kat said...

In most cases, I prefer the graphic novel over the movie (as opposed to liking the book over the movie or vice versa). Thanks for visiting! :D Happy BTT!

PopinFresh said...

I've heard a lot of great things about the Watchman. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

~ Popin

Lisa said...

I've never been one to read graphic novels or comic books.

Jess said...

I haven't read a ton of graphic novels, but I loved Epileptic by David B. It was just incredible.

writemeg said...

Awesome post! Very informative. Your explanation of comics vs. graphic novels is great... and makes perfect sense!

Nymeth said...

"Graphic novels: everything you need to know" sounds great! I hadn't heard of it before and will have to check it out.

I love comics/graphic novels. The impression I have is that more than purpose, the difference in terms has to do with way of publication. The individual issues are comics, the full books are graphic novels. But the terms also seem to be used interchangeably a lot.

JessicaLeigh said...

Great post! This makes me understand a few things much more! :) I'll keep the titles that you pointed out in mind!

Violet said...

What an informative post. Thanks a lot for educating us a little more.

Meghan said...

I really like your definition. It makes far more sense than mine. Thanks!

Lorin said...

Great definition of comic and graphic novel! I may have to borrow that one some time.

I read Watchmen (the book) right before the movie came out, though I'd been hearing about it for years (my husband's a fan). It was interesting to me as a historical artifact - it was really groundbreaking - but I didn't love it. Then again, I mostly read Buffy comics!

Yvonne said...

Thanks for the recommendations!

Ambrosia Jefferson said...

Great post with some great info.

Stephanie said...

I'm going to have to check out the book you recommended. As a newbie to the whole graphic novel medium, I really didn't have a starting point. Just went with my gut.

By the way, I loved The Watchmen (the movie). Thought it was BRILLIANT! Now, I really need to read the book.

Shannansbooks said...

Thanks for clarifying the graphic novel for me. I saw several at Walmart today with my son. He was not interested though.

Charli and me said...

Interesting post. I enjoyed reading it. It would be fun to see a comic book with a Janet Evanovich story line. I think some of her earlier books are so funny.

Kelly said...

Interesting definition...I never thought of it that way! Thanks for the graphic novel education. :)