Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Warning: Graphic Contents

My reading life veered 10 days ago after seeing this Nerdy Book Club post by Amy Estersohn. She shared a list of "graphic novels for readers who don't like graphic novels," and I dove right in even though I like graphic novels. It's just been overlong since I've picked up one, which made now -- in my informal estimation -- a perfect time for a binge.

The friendly neighborhood public library set me up with five titles out of the gate. I polished off Here by Richard McGuire and America is Under Attack by Don Brown before leaving the library's confines. The former is a time-bending, largely wordless study of place; the latter reports on the September 11 attacks in sharply intimate, middle-grade-appropriate detail for a generation born after those events.

In my backpack, I carried away Ms. Marvel, Threads: From the Refugee Crisis, and Sea Change. I started with Frank Viva's Sea Change about a boy named Eliot banished to spend the summer with crusty relatives in Nova Scotia. Quirky character notes and funky illustrations enliven this coming-of-age tale. Next was Kate Evans' Threads, a beautifully drawn, wrenching memoir of times she spent serving at a refugee camp in Calais, France. After that, Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson presented a change of pace. In some respects, I was back to the medium's superhero roots, except those roots had been grafted onto a nuanced story of cultural identity thanks to the title character being a Muslim teen.

Momentum from those reads has carried me right into Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel, a behind-the-scenes view of how and why so much current radio journalism proves so gripping.

Two weeks' reading has refreshed my love for graphic novels, renewed my appreciation for the format's limitless range, and reminded me about the power of defining literacy generously. Don't take my word for it: Listen to Jarret Kroscozka, whose timely words just came my way via Twitter.

10 comments:

  1. I've learned to like graphic novels over the years. They still aren't my favorite but I do enjoy a good one now and then.

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  2. Thanks for your list of titles. I find the pages of graphic novels mystifying-- there's so much to look at! They also demand an entirely different reading process that is much slower for me than what I use for traditional texts. I recently saw the musical version of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, which inspired me to pick up her graphic novel of the same name. Interesting experience.

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    1. Good point that reading these formats isn't necessarily intuitive and requires its own training/practice. If you're game for _Fun Home_, you might like Roz Chast's _Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?_

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  3. Just finished the new graphic novel for Anne of Green Gables. I was skeptical since I love the novel so much, but I feel the graphic novel captures the essence of the book. My hope is that more readers might pick up the novel after experiencing the graphic version.

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    1. Inviting use of graphic novels: lower proverbial price of admission for reading classics.

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  4. I am not a big graphic novel fan. I am verbal, not visual. But I just read Poppies of Iraq and it was excellent. It reminded me a lot of Persepolis.

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  5. I have seen the magic of graphic novels at work in our classroom and am saddened when others put them down. Reading them is sure complex and not at all what people who do not read them think. Glad you shared this!

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  6. Welcome. I'm coming around to view that reading this vs. that need not be zero-sum game.

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