Booking Through Thursday: Graphic

May 7, 2009 at 4:33 am (Memes) ()

btt2 Suggested by Vega:

Last Saturday (May 2nd) is Free Comic Book Day! In celebration of comics and graphic novels, some suggestions:

– Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them?
– How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all?
– Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical”.

I have been known to read them. I was a devotee of The Sandman throughout intermediate and high school, and well after (I had World’s End–and myself–autographed by Gaiman). I also grew up reading Love & Rockets, Maus,  and Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, some of the most literate comics you can find. I read them because they were fascinating stories, stories I would have read even if they were not illustrated. Though I much appreciated the aesthetics of some artists, such as the Bros. Hernandez, at times I read simply for the story, such as with some parts of The Sandman (I never liked Marc Hempel). Story was what mattered most to me.

I don’t feel much qualified to answer the second question; comics are not my specialty. I would assume it has something to to with along, complex plor similar to that of a traditional novel. Bill?

As for recommendations, There is always The Sandman, one of my favorites being The Doll’s House. And also The Books of Magic, which is both amazing and fun. Also, Love & Rockets for hot punk rock women, and for the deadly serious, Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco or Maus by Art Speigelman.

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8 Comments

  1. Jessica said,

    I don’t read a ton of graphic novels but I loved Epileptic by David B. It was incredible.

  2. Heather said,

    I hazarded a guess at the graphic novel v. comic question here, but it went a little beyond the “comics are thinner than graphic novels” type of answer.

  3. LDP said,

    Graphic novel… God, I hate that term. It’s application is a bit snobbish. No one would ever call the collected edition of Spider-Man: Blue a graphic novel, despite it’s touching story and gorgeous artwork, because it’s just a book about Spider-Man, while Watchmen is called a graphic novel, even though it’s actually a collected edition of a 12-issue series. It’s a marketing term, one that even the people whose work it is applied to, like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, have reacted negatively to. People only seem to call a book a graphic novel when they want to disassociate it from the comics medium, which they think of as being childish. It is, to me, only slightly less irritating than a horror movie being called a psychological thriller.

    Some people like to claim that the difference between a graphic novel and a comic is that the graphic novel has a beginning, middle and end and is not a part of a continuing series. This doesn’t really work either. Some call the Sandman TPBs (trade paperbacks) graphic novels, but they ARE just parts of a serialized story. Every story has a beginning middle and end and a good third of the actual novels I read are part of continuing series!

    The only thing I would ever refer to as a graphic novel is a long form comic story released initially as one volume and meant to be viewed as one volume.

    Square-bound collections of comics are trade paperbacks.

    Everything in the medium, be it a single issue. a trade or a graphic novel (*seethes*) are comic books.

    With my rant out of the way, I’ll toss out a few suggestions:

    If you’re into hardboiled crime fiction, check out Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. There are four trades available and you can read them in any order, as each stands on it’s own. They are only loosely connected by the setting and a few recurring characters.

    Into serial killers? Try out Torso by Brian Micheal Bendis and Marc Andreyko. It’s based on true story of The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run, also called the Cleveland Torso Murderer, and Elliot Ness’ attempts to capture one of America’s first well known serial killers.

    Love animals? And violence? Pick up Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s WE3. It tells the story of three lost pets, a kitty, bunny and a dog, who have been “enhanced” by the military and suddenly find themselves free, on the run, and wishing they could find home again after the program is shut down and they are forced to escape or be terminated. I cried.

    If you like horror or zombies, you should already be reading The Walking Dead. The first trade paperback is Days Gone Bye and it’s pretty cheap, only costing $9.95 new. It’s a Romero-style zombie tale that never ends and always goes where you don’t expect it to. No one is safe.

    Lover’s of fairy tales and modern fantasy should read Fables: Legends in Exile. Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming, Snow White, Pinnochio, The Big Bad Wolf… They are all real and they are currently living in Fabletown, a hidden community in the heart of New York City. When Snow White’s sister, Rose Red, is murdered, it’s up to Bigby Wolf to solve the crime. His main suspects are Bluebeard, known to have killed a woman or two in his time and Jack Horner, the quick and nimble giant-killer and mastermind behind a thousand failed get rich quick schemes.

    And, lastly, for you feminists, take a gander at Y: The Last Man: Unmanned. See an idea of what the world may look like if every male mammal on the planet died at the same instant, except for two, escape artist Yorick and his misbehavin’ monkey Ampersand.

  4. rugelach said,

    You’re the best, LDP! I knew you’d come through for me on that one. And I like your answer. I was uncomfortable with my hazarded guess because The Sandman (oft referred to as a graphic novel, as noted) really didn’t seem to fit the bill. And long, complex plots are what so many comics are about.

    WE3 sounds kind of like a rip off of Richard Adams’ The Plague Dogs, one of the few books to make me cry.

    • LDP said,

      Grant Morrison has mentioned The Plague Dogs, as well as Nihm and The Incredible Journey and a few other similar stories while talking about WE3. It was exactly the kind of tale he wanted to emulate, only with explosions and massive, crazy, splattery j-horror levels of violence. It’s pretty impressive that he pulled it off and still managed to fit in the touching stuff that really makes you feel for the animals.

      There’s one scene that just breaks my heart. After a battle with their pursuers, there’s quite a bit of collateral damage and the dog, who craves praise and strives to be loyal to humans, risks capture in an attempt to save one of the victims of the destruction from a river. The rescue is only kind of successful, but the dog, enhanced or not, is still just a dog and doesn’t quite comprehend everything in the world around him.

      It’s really short and you should absolutely give it a shot.

      • rugelach said,

        Then I will check it out, particularly with all those impressive literary antecedents.

  5. Novroz said,

    I never read western comics…I am totally drawn into manga

  6. LDP said,

    Just, when you read WE3, don’t expect to cry, like I did, rugelach, because I may be a crybaby, but we both know you’re one cold-blooded skirt with curves like a scenic ocean-side road and a heart that’s every bit as hard and sharp as the rocks in the water below, whereupon many an incautious man has been dashed to pieces.

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