Back in the days when I worked in the library world, I sort of frowned on the notion of graphic novels. I was appalled when kids would come into the library looking for “comic book” versions of the classics. However, I am nothing if I’m not contradictory, and although I was alarmed by the thought of things like “King Lear in 50 Easy Frames,” I was somewhat intrigued by the notion of original novels written in comic strip fashion. I’m still intrigued, having come to accept the graphic novel as a genre in its own right, and I’ve been known to browse the “graphic novels” sections at libraries. This is not to say, though, that I have ever actually picked one up and read it cover-to-cover.
I was toying with the idea of creating a graphics novel challenge for 2008 (suspecting from comments left on others’ blogs that I’m not alone in being someone who’s never read one) when I discovered Dewey has conveniently already done all the work to get one going, even providing some lists for those of us who may be a little (shall we say?) graphic-novel-challenged. Thus, I’m embarking on my first challenge of ’08, because despite what seems to be an inability to complete challenges, I’m always ready to take on one that seems like fun (especially when it’s the beginning of the year, and I’ve got the whole year ahead of me to complete it).
One thing I’ve discovered about choosing graphic novels is that it’s like choosing picture books or audiobooks. There’s more to consider than just the story. With audiobooks, the narrator/reader is very important. With picture books, the illustrator is key. I turned down many a good story when I was a kid, because I didn’t like the illustrations presented. I’m afraid to say I’m still quite picky about that. Thank goodness for Amazon’s “search inside the book” feature, which helped me choose books with illustrators that appealed. Here’s the list of novels I’ve chosen:
Fun Home – Allison Bechdel (discovered browsing the shelves at the Philadelphia library one day)
Beowulf – Gareth Hinds (you know, “Beowulf in 50 Easy Frames”)
[Rex Libris]: I, Librarian – James Turner (discovered over at Stef’s)
Blankets – Craig Thompson (discovered through one of Dewey’s helpful links)
It Rhymes with Lust – Arnold Drake (I think I first discovered this one at Wikipedia, of all places and was intrigued by the description. The graphic novel seems like the perfect format for noir.)
Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth – Chris Ware (another from one of Dewey’s links)
So, stay tuned for my thoughts and reflections on each of these (we hope) in 2008.