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Purple Poppy

Comics And Graphic Novels.

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There was a time, when anyone over the age of 20 who read comics, was labelled as immature, or a geek, or something even less complimetary! I always held the view that so long as people read something, then that was more important. It meant there was always a chance they would gravitate towards something more meaningful later. And anyway, if they enjoyed comics, why not?

Since then, comics have not only held their own, but some have become works of art and some of them iconic pieces of history...Batman /Superman etc, still influencing our leisure art forms today. Now we have also seen the emergence of graphic novels as a new art form.

I know there is at least one massive fan of the graphic novel, on this forum, but what do others think about comics and graphic novels? I grew up on comics, but I have never read a graphic novel, and am not particuarly interested in them. Should I be? And why? Are they as good as a full text novel? What are the differences, the pros and cons?

Over to you!

PP

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Maus.jpg

The Complete Maus By Art Spiegelman

 

Review by Junko'coyote crazed'(Amazon)

Id seen this book in a shop and decided to read it - it was unlike anything written on the holocaust and the events in nazi germany mainly beacuse it is written in the form of a comic book. I thought the use if animal characters was excellent with the idea that cats (nazi's) go after mice (jews) and dogs (americans) will go after the cats, pigs are greedy and lazy and cant be trusted (perception of the Polish in the book).

I prefered the first book - Maus 1 - this seemed more consistant in chronology, Maus 2 jumped around a bit especially the section showing the author/artist writing the comic in 1987 I thought this would have been more appropriate at the end.

The images and narration were very moving and although I do think the story jumps about I did like the way that the author kept going back to the present and showing his father telling the story to Art - these sections provided a break between the horrific story with a more relaxed and in some places, humourous narration - showing Art, his father and second wife in present day New York (hard for a book to do with this sort of subject). On the whole I thought this was an excellent way to present the subject of the holocaust especially for people learning about the subject.

 

This is an example, Icecream. If you go to Amazon and search for graphic novels you'll see a whole selection.

 

PP

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Hello...

 

I have in total, 2 graphic novels and they are by Clive Barker, they are:

 

The Yattering and The Jack (from the books of blood - volume one)

 

Revelations (from the books of blood - volume four)

 

Saint Sinner, which is a comic, I have three parts out of seven, unfortunately discontinued.

 

I enjoyed reading all of the above. If they are written well and none of the original story is missed graphic novels can be brilliant. The artwork can be amazing, so much time and effort has went into it. You still get the essence of the story, I have to admit I was pretty skeptical when my husband gave me my copy of 'The Yattering and Jack', I am a big fan of the books of blood so I thought there was no way they could portray that story into a graphic novel but they did and I enjoyed seeing The Yattering in living colour, so to speak (it was how I had imagined him but a different colour).

 

I think graphic novels deserve as much merit as a written novel, a lot of work goes into it.

 

And speaking of comics, I have a fair collection of 2000AD's

 

;)

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Thanks Paula. That's interesting. I must say that after looking on Amazon, I'm intrigued.

Another parcel arrived this morning, BTW. Thanks.;)

 

PP

 

You are welcome, glad it arrived ok...

 

:D

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My fella has gotten me to read quite a few graphic novels now and I really enjoy them. He says that the US government has done a study and found that the most efficient way of imparting information into your brain is to use a combination of words and pictures (unsuprisingly!). So when thinking of this, it makes sense that these books are so easy to get abosorbed in! I tend to read them between 'real' books as they are so easy and tickle different areas of my brain, a change is as good as a rest they say!

 

I agree with you PP it is certainly better to read something than nothing, and comic books certainly have their place, but, as you said, graphic novels are a whole new art form; I wouldn't compare the two. I've tried recently to read a supergirl comic (having loved her when I was young) and really didn't enjoy it at all, it lacked any real substance. Whereas, generally, the graphic novels I have read have been as absorbing and as gripping as any novel; I would definately recommend that you give them a try!

 

'Maus' is an award winning graphic novel, and one that I am desperate to read; it sounds like a perfect example of what a graphic novel actually is. 'Blankets' by Craig Ringwalt Thompson is utterly fantastic; it is a large book (by graphic novel standards) and tells the tale of the authors journey as he is 'coming of age'. It is incredibly intimate and delicate and I truely didn't want it to end. The art work suits the words, the feelings and the story so well and are very beautiful. I think as a first forray into the world of graphic novels, this would be a great place to start. I found it very touching.

 

I think for me (apart from the obvious), the main difference between a 'real' novel and graphic novel is that you don't have any clunky narration or descriptives leading you on the journey. You literally have a snapshot of the scene and the dialogue to draw your own conclusions. There are some fabulous artists working with writers to produce these books, and the pictures will often reveal as much, or even more than the text. You get to see the joy or heartbreak painted on the characters face; you get to explore the environment, the posters on the bedroom walls and the magazines on the table; you get to see other peoples faces as they glance across the room; you may even pick up clues to the story if you look hard enough! It is this aspect to them that I find fascinating and the pictures can keep me interested for hours (I often find myself flicking back through, wondering to myself (for example), "hhhmmm, were they wearing the amulet at the time this happened?") - it adds a whole other dimension!

 

Alan Moore (inventer of Constantine, the Watchman, V for Vendetta, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the list could go on... prolific graphic novelist!) Spends as much time writing the story as he does writing out every single frame for the artist to draw (I imagine others work much the same way). He takes as much care and attention over how the artwork will look, as he does the intricaces of the plot and characters; so the art of 'writing' seems to me to be a very different mechanism from a regular novelist.

 

A lot of the novels are serialised first, so you can get them in instalments! I find this an exciting way to read as you get a chunk of the story and then have to wait and anticipate what will come next, whilst pondering and theorising your own outcomes (kind of like the achingly long wait for a new Harry Potter!).

 

I really do think they are worth reading, as part of a healthy, balanced book diet. ;) You are missing out on a whole genre of wonderful stories and beautiful pictures!!

 

...sorry, I went on a bit! --give em a go!!--

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Wow, Princessponti! Thanks for that wonderful review / description. Probably most of us on here have never picked one up, let alone read a graphic novel, so its really interesting to read about them from someone who knows. I think somewhere you and PGR discussed Blankets and that's what led me to ponder about this new art form. Don't tell me, it's probably been around awhile? I really liked the idea behind Maus with the animal representations.

Well my birthday's coming up soon. I will have to do some research and maybe put out a list to help people choose for me. You think Blankets is a good one to start with?

Thanks for taking the time to write such a good piece. I'm sure quite a few of us will benfit from it. ;)

 

PP

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...I'm glad you liked my ramblings! ;) I have to edit it tomorrow for sense, too tired!

 

Blankets I think is really good, very easy and similar in structure to a normal novel, but, as with anything, you'll only enjoy it if the story floats your boat!

 

- What sorts of stories do you generally like? - I'll see if I and boyf can recommend something more targetted!

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And speaking of comics, I have a fair collection of 2000AD's

 

;)

 

Me too! From about Prog 79, I think (showing my age). I have read a few (very few) graphic novels. I think I don't buy many because (a) they seem to be quite expensive, and (:D there seem to be so many that I'm not sure where to start. Also, you see a story that looks interesting, only to find it's already on the eighth book of the series, and numbers 1-7 are out of print. :D

 

The ones I've read have been by authors I already knew from 2000AD, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

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Princess Potty!!!! ...is that how I come across?! - or did my brother put you up to this?!!!!

 

;) ...that's what he calls me! ...that and 'stinky' and various other charming yet appropriate insults for his 31 years!!!

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Hi Princesspotty, sorry Ponti...

 

in reply to your kind offer yesterday to give some thought to my first read of a graphic novel:

I have been thinking about it, and really so long as its not too violent or spookey, I probably don't mind. I thought the Maus one might be good, partly because of the animals, but also because of the way they deal with the topic. But I am happy to be guided bu you. ;)

 

PP

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C'mon Amy! Where are you when I need you???:(

I think you are the expert on graphic novels...;)

 

PP

 

I'm here!! Finally... :D

 

Well Princess Ponti is VERY good with the whole graphic novel genre, I have to say :D But here's my 'two-penneth worth' anyway, lol:

 

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman is just FANTASTIC. It's so utterly wonderful and just an incredible achievement. It's not always the most comfortable read at times, but it's not violent or graphic at all (like some graphic novels can be). I think some people who haven't read it see the people-as-animals concept a bit weird, but it works amazingly well, as it allows Spiegelman to explore the Holocaust in a more depth than using human figures.

Once you've read Maus, you'll never think quite the same way about comics!

 

Blankets by Craig Ringwalt Thompson is very good - probably a good starting point for the uninitiated (although I insist on everyone reading Maus *nudge nudge*). It's a thick book, but the beauty of graphic novels is that it takes at least half the time it takes to read a novel, lol.

BTW: on Amazon, you can take a look inside it. Handy.

 

Back in the day, I started with a series called Gloom Cookie by Serena Valentino. Now these are great graphic novels, particulary if you love a bit of fantasy reading (and I know a lot of people on the forum do!). The different stories within are all great, and the love story/triangle is really moving. It really appealed to my inner goth! I haven't read the Volumes from Vol 4 onwards, but I'm getting around to it.

 

Alan Moore is a legend, even in the serious literary circles, mainly for his reinvention of traditional comic book themes (such as Superheroes). I'm still waiting for Watchmen(written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons), so I can't personally recommend it, but I know all of his work is very loved and respected so definitely worth a look (also V for Vendetta, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, to name the most famous).

 

Now, although not for the very faint hearted (and I'm definitely faint hearted!), Frank Miller's Sin City series are great. My favourite is Sin City: That Yellow 'person of dubious parentage' (if you've seen the film, it was the storyline with Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba). The weird thing with Sin City is that for all their grittiness and outrageousness, they're frequently heat-wrenchingly moving.

 

On a completely different scale, there's more to Raymond Briggs than The Snowman! I'd heartily recommend When the Wind Blows (about an elderly couple caught up in a nuclear fallout. Funny but very tragic) and Ethel and Ernest (Briggs' biography of his parents - really beautiful).

 

I'm at work so I can't remember everything, but hopefully that was helpful :)

 

And PP, I think you should definitely give Persepolis (by Marjane Satrapi) a go - it's such an easy read, and despite the subject, it really isn't intense at all. I think it's probably the best example of what graphic novels can do.

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Ooh, forgot to mention a couple that I haven't read but heard good things about:

 

Frank Miller also re-invented Batman, in The Dark Knight Returns and did it so successfully that Chris Nolan pinched most of his stuff for the film Batman Begins, lol. I've flicked through the first one, and it looked really impressive.

 

Neil Gaiman is amazingly prolific and I know his graphic novel series The Sandman is hugely popular. I really want to read them, but am afraid of how much it's going to cost me! There's loads! Might try the library for them...

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My goodness Amy! I knew you were an expert. Princessponti has been helping out, and you both give wonderful and very knowledgable descriptions, for which, I for one, and I'm sure many others on the board are grateful.

 

And guess wot! I've read a graphic novel! Many moons ago, probably when it first came out, I read Raymond Briggs, 'when the Wing Blows'. To be honest I really can't remember it in any detail, so will have to read again. Also the Bogeyman...loved that on TV too. I just didn't make the connection.

 

So I'm not a novice...(dancing cat time:D )...

 

But seriously, I will look at all the books you mention,on Amazon, and take it from there.

Thank you again for all your help, you and Princessponti...great gals:friends0:

 

PP

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Princess Potty!!!! ...is that how I come across?! - or did my brother put you up to this?!!!!

 

;) ...that's what he calls me! ...that and 'stinky' and various other charming yet appropriate insults for his 31 years!!!

 

Sorry. I have amended. don't worry. It is just me who can't read.

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My goodness Amy! I knew you were an expert. Princessponti has been helping out, and you both give wonderful and very knowledgable descriptions, for which, I for one, and I'm sure many others on the board are grateful.

 

And guess wot! I've read a graphic novel! Many moons ago, probably when it first came out, I read Raymond Briggs, 'when the Wing Blows'. To be honest I really can't remember it in any detail, so will have to read again. Also the Bogeyman...loved that on TV too. I just didn't make the connection.

 

So I'm not a novice...(dancing cat time:D )...

 

But seriously, I will look at all the books you mention,on Amazon, and take it from there.

Thank you again for all your help, you and Princessponti...great gals:friends0:

 

PP

 

Aw, thanks PP :D;)

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Sorry. I have amended. don't worry. It is just me who can't read.

 

That's cool Icecream, it was pretty funny! :D ...I think I'm gonna have to keep an eye on PurplePoppy though.. she seems to have run with it!...

 

 

Although for now... thanks PP for the nice words x ;) I love a group hug!!

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My current favorite is Y the last Man by Brian K. Vaughn. This is the story of the last man on Earth; everyone else with a Y chromosome has died. This is an ongoing with a new volume coming out about every 3 months.

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Asterix!!!! Got introduced to these as a young teenager and been hooked ever since. They are a very clever form of comic, if you knew Latin, I'm sure they'd be even funnier. You've just got to love Asterix and his fellow villagers, Obilix, Dogmatix, Cacophonix, Chief Vitalstatistix and the crew.

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