Graphic Novels Prove To Be More Than Just Drawings

September 27, 2018

So, what exactly is a graphic novel? One could say that it is just a long comic, but there is a bit more to it than just that.

First, a discernment must be made between graphic novels and comics. A comic is a series of cartoons, either in a magazine, newspaper or website that is divided into issues in order to tell a story. A graphic novel is similar, but each novel is longer and usually finished within a few books rather than a large series of issues.

Often, when someone thinks of a graphic novel, the first thing that comes to mind is something for kids. Sure, sometimes that is accurate, but to claim that a something such as “Scott Pilgrim” is child-friendly would be inaccurate. Cartoons in general, whether on the television screen or in a book, are not inherently for kids. A quick look at the basic plot of “Scott Pilgrim” shows a guy named Scott Pilgrim, who sees and develops some sort of attraction to a girl named Ramona Flowers. He cheats on the person he is dating (Knives Chau) with Ramona, and later on, breaks up with her and starts to date Ramona instead, where he finds that in order to stay with her, he needs to defeat her evil exes. It is definitely not something meant for children, but it could be given to an adult.

That being said, graphic novels for children do exist. “Oh, so books like the ones made by Dr. Seuss,” one might argue. That, however, is what is called a picture book. Although similar to graphic novels and comic books, the typical picture books usually do not fall into either category. Picture books generally do not contain panels like a graphic novel and most of the time are for little kids. Where a graphic novel tends to focus on heavier material made for more mature audiences, picture books are lighter in material and made for younger children—generally speaking, they also tend to be significantly shorter than graphic novels.

There also exists a type of graphic novel known as a manga. Let one thing be clear—all forms of manga are graphic novels, but not all graphic novels are manga. A manga is essentially a Japanese graphic novel that is, generally speaking, read from right to left rather than left to right. A manga does not necessarily have to be made in Japan, but in order for it to be considered a manga, it has to be presented with Japanese cartoons. In more basic terms, if the graphic novel is not “anime” in book form, it is not manga.

Sure, graphic novels are books, and they have the term “novel” in them, but are they literature? Sometimes they can be. Some graphic novels are created based off of well-known literary works. The play “Hamlet” by Shakespeare, for example, was actually turned into a graphic novel. Not only can literary adaptations be literature, but stories that were originally graphic novels can be literature, too. As stated previously, graphic novels will sometimes touch on heavy material and deep subjects. One example is “The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil” by Stephen Collins. The book itself has morals and says something about society. Yes, a book about a giant, evil beard is pretty deep and more intelligent than it sounds.

Obviously, graphic novels and even cartoons, in general, are not for everyone, but at the end of the day, whether a graphic novel is just an art form, a literary work or somewhere in between, all of them are meant to be respected and enjoyed in some manner.

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