Background on graphic novels 
Since the next selection for the Mayor’s Book Club is a graphic novel, we thought a little bit of background would be of interest.

The term “graphic novel” was coined by Will Eisner who is considered to be one of the most important creators in the realm of sequential art -- which essentially is what graphic novels are. Today the most prestigious award that can be won by a graphic novel the Eisner Award.

Graphic novels are no longer simply comics about super-heroes and the battle over good and evil. Today they cover all the literary genres including comedy, tragedy, romance, mystery, thrillers, science fiction, horror, fantasy and realistic fiction.

They have become a very powerful medium for storytelling and they are a great tool for reluctant readers, students learning English and those with reading challenges. They can also make historical events more accessible to people by having dramatic visuals accompanying the text.

In recent years graphic novels have become a popular medium for autobiographical stories. Blankets, by Craig Thompson, is an example of a young man’s coming of age and this month’s selection Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Many find the combination of image and text to be very powerful. Not only biographies, but social issues, health issues and powerful stories about loss are all addressed through this medium. One of the latest trends: adapting novels into the graphic format. “The Kite Runner” and Ayn Rand’s “Anthem” are two examples.

I really liked the Maus books, but I haven't read any other graphic novels.


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