Graphic novels and their predecessors, comic books, have had a grueling battle over the years to prove their value in literature. Comic books were the ‘video games’ of their day, unwittingly accused of “rotting the brain” and inspiring “violence in youth.” They are, even to this day, often considered inferior to their textual counterparts. If anything, they were only suitable for the unmotivated youth who was too lazy to read. This idea is quite damaging to a large population of readers as they are in fact a unique medium that requires a different literacy than textual reading and even take some skill to read adeptly. Images and dialogue, often the only text present, work in unison to deliver the story to the reader. Some feel the lack of text devalues the medium and is simply a shortcut to reading a textual novel. In truth, if a graphic novel is being read quickly, it may not be receiving the appropriate level of scrutiny required to truly experience the story. Like speed reading a textual novel, context and details may be lost if each panel, the box containing each complete image and text, is not effectively perused.
You might be asking, “What kind of grown adult reads these? Aren’t these for kids?” I would challenge you and ask if you think a majority of the viewers going to theaters for the Marvel or DC movies such as Avengers, Justice League, or, ahem, Deadpool…are under 18. Deadpool comics, ill advised for younger readers as it is, not to mention Marvel’s graphic novels published under their “Max Comics” label are meant for an 18+ audience depicting explicit scenes very unsuitable for a younger audience. Some publishers carry a significant number of adult oriented titles such as Image Comics’ The Walking Dead, Saga, or Kill or Be Killed. If so many comics or graphic novels are inappropriate for underage viewing, how can the entire medium be considered an immature interest?
Occasionally, you’ll have the elitist type who will try to push the literary canon on you and devalue the graphic novel for not existing in the western canon. What about those great classics such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Brontë, Austen, or even Beowulf? Well, click on any of these links in this paragraph and you’ll see that we carry every one of those in a graphic novel format. Their literary merit is still there. The story is the same but shows you the scenes in a depicted graphic image rather than textual imagery. Is the fact that something is textually described really so superior to an artist’s depiction in a graphic form?
Considering these points, it should be obvious that adults are just as eligible to indulge in graphic literature as children and can find a great selection right here at the library to do so. If you love any of the titles mentioned herein, why not expand your literary skills and try a graphic novel? You might even like it.
P.S. Check out our growing selection of graphic novels available in the Non-fiction 741s!