Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Graphic Novels: Beyond Comic Books

(photo by playfulllibrarian)

Being in the reading & writing business, I couldn't avoid graphic novels. I looked at the popular manga, the superhero, and other types. But actually read one?

Then a review led me to read Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush, by Luis Alberto Urrea. This graphic novel adaptation of one of his magical realism stories is illustrated by Christopher Cardinale. The art depicts the narrator's home town, boyish pranks, and the results of Mr. Mendoza's paintbrush. Mr. Mendoza used his paintbrush to keep the villagers in line, and finally, to step out of town mysteriously himself. The combination of art and story help us see and feel the village, the time, and the culture. (With respect to copyright, I'm not posting art here, but click the links to see samples.)

(photo Michael Morrow)

Here are some things I've learned about graphic novels:
-The average reader is 30! This isn't just kid stuff.
-Most of them are NOT full of violence and sex. They have good, solid storylines.
-Some of them are about superheroes, but most are not.
-The vocabulary is twice the level of the average kids' book.
(Thanks to Jasmine Rockwell, South Dakota State Library, whose blog about YA books is here.)

(photo by Aine D)

Kids do love them, and yes, it is REAL reading. For the most part, I still prefer the traditional book, but graphic novels such as Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush are works of art.

What's your opinion of graphic novels? Have you tried them? Which ones would you recommend?

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