Venturing into the world of the graphic novel

As a child I never really read comics.  The closest I came was reading two bumper books of Asterix the Gaul stories which I think were probably originally bought for my brother.   I must admit I loved those stories and continued to re-read them well into my teenage years.

I am now at the age of 34, thanks to my husband, expanding my reading to include graphic novels.  No longer associated with socially awkward teenagers graphic novels have emerged and are quickly becoming a part of mainstream literature.  In starting to write this blog I did a little bit of research about what constitutes a graphic novel, according to my findings “to be considered a graphic novel, rather than a picture book or illustrated novel, the story is told using a combination of words and pictures in a sequence across the page.  They can be any genre, tell any kind of story, it’s the format that makes the story a graphic novel – text, images, word balloons, sound effects and panels. “

Having only read a couple of chapters of The Watchmen, I can immediately see why this style of book can be appealing to readers, and in particular boys.  Whilst they are rich with complex plots and narrative structures they are easily accessible, often vibrant with colour and offering a visual experience similar to that of computer games and animated TV.  They’ve also made the jump across to film adaptions easily, the most mainstream one probably being the 2005 film Sin City.  A stranger to the genre I was incredibly taken with this film.  The cinematography was striking, the use of colour to highlight certain objects against the main black and white was something I hadn’t seen before.  I felt like I was watching a comic played out.

But back to the paper copies.   For those not familiar with the style it definitely takes time to become comfortable with it. Naturally the character development is a little slower, the conversations shorter and normally there are few sections of long prose setting a scene.  I say normally because The Watchmen comic strip sections are broken up with extracts from an autobiography written by one of the characters.  This has really helped me to get my head around the background and the context of the main storyline and being a format I am more familiar with it has helped bridge a gap.

I’m not far enough into the novel to say for certain if I would read another one but I am enjoying trying something new and expanding my literary boundaries.


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