Monday, March 14, 2016

Graphic novels are...taboo?

I seem to have several taboo reader habits: reading YA as an adult, audiobooks, and--the subject of today's post--graphic novels. I'm relatively new to graphic novels, as I've only been enjoying them since December 2014. But just as with audiobooks, I'm often taken aback by the negative reaction I receive when I mention them. In fact, an online discussion I was involved in regarding graphic novels yielded a comment that claimed they were the video games of the book world (note: I also fancy myself a gamer), a waste of time and killer of brain cells.

The thing with graphic novels is that they have pictures. And you know what? I actually had to teach myself how to read these correctly because of the pictures. That's right. I had to retrain my mind because I was reading all the words, but missing out on everything else. Those pictures are there for a reason. You need to observe the images to get the whole picture (no pun intended). Facial expressions, someone creeping up on someone else, objects in the scene, etc. are all on the page without being in the wording. I found that without looking at the pictures for full context, those words didn't make sense most of the time.

Graphic novels, just like audiobooks, require a different set of reading skills. Observation, for one, and interpretation of what you've observed that isn't written down. It's like reading body language and facial cues, not just the inflection of the spoken word. Not everyone is great at reading others, though, so graphic novels aren't for everyone.

In case you're interested in expanding your taboo reader habits, here are some graphic novels that I can recommend:

  • Revenge: the Origin of Emily Thorne (my first graphic novel)
  • Sandman by Neil Gaiman
  • Fables (awesome for fans of fairy tales) 
  • Amulet (MG graphic novel series that my daughter loved and insisted I read) 

The Baron also suggested:

  • Preacher (he cautions that it is not family friendly)
  • Locke & Key 
  • Saga

Other popular ones you may be interested in:

  • Y the Last Man
  • The Walking Dead
  • V for Vendetta
  • Watchmen
  • Scott Pilgrim

So, do you read graphic novels? What is your favorite? And if you haven't read any, why not?


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

When I was a librarian, I used to read graphic novels and you're right -- I had to retrain my brain. I'd miss out on the nuances in the pictures. I recommend Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It's a graphic novel about her childhood in Iran.

Mary Fan said...

Graphic novels FTW!!! I haven't read nearly enough of them, but I love love love V for Vendetta and Watchmen! Also Maus and Maus 2

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

I liked "Watchmen" and "The Killing Joke." I also like "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac" and "Batgirl." Back in the day I used to read "Sandman," "Black Orchid," "Venom," and "Hellblazer," cast-offs from my sister, and "The Atlantis Chronicles" and "Supergirl," suggestions from one of my good friends at the time.

Jonathan Schramm said...

Haven't read enough, but these recommendations are a great place to get started. Thanks, Brianna! V for Vendetta, 300, and The Walking Dead are my guilty Movie and TV pleasures, so I'm definitely a fan...

Carrie Beckort said...

I've not read graphic novels as an adult, but I'd like to. My daughter loves them - her favorites by far are Sisters and Smile by Raina Telgemeier. She recently read the graphic novels The Baby-sitters Club by the same author and enjoyed those too. She also loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - while not exactly a graphic novel, it's a similar concept. I've thought about starting with the graphic novels she's read, but I'm going to look into the ones you list above as well!

Brianna Lebrecht said...

I am a fan of V, 300, and The Walking Dead as well, so I was ecstatic to find out about the graphic novels. I got The Walking Dead Vol. 1 out of the library, but I didn't start it because I had just binged four seasons straight and was told the graphic novel is very different in terms of characters and their demise.

Jonathan Schramm said...

Thanks, Brianna! Now can we circle back to audio books being taboo? I often listen to them in the car, when I can't physically read a book or I'd die, which I think is much better than listening to the crap on the radio. I also listen to them when I mow the lawn. Again, I think they're so much more educational than listening to music. What else would writers listen to? What say you?

Brianna Lebrecht said...

I've recommended audiobooks since the Baron got me into them. Some people seem to think it's cheating, isn't really reading, or the lazy way to do it (really, though, how is listening to audio while mowing more lazy than lounging around with a book?). I love audiobooks and often listen to them in the car or while sewing/knitting/crocheting. It's funny, my work pace matches the pace of the book. And I'm sure we can agree that audiobooks utilize a separate but equally important set of reading skills.

Brenda St John Brown said...

I've not read graphic novels as an adult, either, but I do 90% of my reading on my Kindle and, unfortunately, I find that the quality isn't there if it's anything other than straight text. I tried reading Illuminae on my Kindle recently (which I was really looking forward to), but I couldn't see the graphic elements properly and felt like I was missing too much, so abandoned it at 20%. :( I think if the clarity was there, I'd be more willing to give it a go.

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