DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jun 12 2009

Spotlight on the Collection: Graphic Novels

by Jesse M

For this post I wanted to examine a collection that is perhaps the most likely to be misunderstood, overlooked, or dismissed as just “kid stuff”: the graphic novel.  The label encompasses a wide variety of material, but most simply, a graphic novel is “any extended form of comics, including non-fiction and short story collections.” (a definition borrowed from Grossman and Lacayo of TIME magazine).

maus-cover2While some graphic novels in the DCPL catalog do resemble the comics you read as a kid (such as the 7 volume Essential X-men series, each of which compiles 20-30 issues of the comic book), it would be a mistake to think that costumed superheroes are the extent of what graphic novels have to offer. In fact, there are graphic novels appropriate for all tastes and age categories. Adults interested in serious nonfiction should check out Maus, a Pulitzer Prize winning Holocaust narrative wherein all the people are portrayed as anthropomorphic animals (for example, the Jews are mice, while the Germans are cats). For something the whole family can enjoy, try Bone, a tale of adventure with heavy doses of humor and fantasy which TIME magazine called “the best all-ages novel yet published in this medium“. And no description of the category would be complete without mentioning what many consider the best of the genre, the seminal Watchmen. This masterpiece was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “The greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label literature,” and was recently adapted into a major motion picture.watchmen-cover

Speaking of graphic novels which have been adapted into films, there are several others available in the DCPL catalog, notably Sin City and V For Vendetta (the latter is also available in graphic novel format).

So give graphic novels a try and check one out. Just look for GN on the spine label. You’ll never think of them as just “kid stuff” again.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy M June 12, 2009 at 3:43 PM

I never really got into superhero type comics, but loved Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan. He is actually one of the main writers of Lost, the reason I picked up the series in the first place. For something more serious, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is one of my very favorites.

Jimmy L June 15, 2009 at 9:26 AM

I love Persepolis too. I recently read a really good graphic novel called The Bun Field. It is a surreal trip, with expressive smudgy pencil drawings.

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