I remember first becoming aware of the concept that a comic book could also be a “real” book around the time that Maus hit Entertainment Weekly’s best of the year list about a million years ago. In the years since I started working at DGLM, graphic novels have gained more and more traction in sales and become increasingly respectable.
I’ve been thinking a lot about them for one incredibly obvious reason: I’ve started selling them. In the coming years, adaptations of a few of the novels I’ve sold will be hitting stores in graphic novel form. And as we move forward with these projects, I’m reading more and more books in the format and also becoming increasingly intrigued about how readers crossover from one format to the other. Take Laurell K. Hamilton: I’d guess that most of the folks buying her graphic novels were already fans looking forward to a different approach to the stories and characters they loved. But I have to imagine that there’s also a dedicated comic readership whose first exposure to Hamilton’s Anita Blake came through the adaptations.
While pondering this all, I also finally read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. If anyone else still hasn’t read it, you totally have to. It’s, well…amazing (truth in advertising!). and it relates here because it’s about two cousins who participate in the birth of the comics boom in the States in the 40s. It made me want to read more comic books and graphic novels. So I have.
I dug into Watchmen and was blown away by the richness of it all. Emboldened, I kept going. From memoirs of Iranian girlhood (Persepolis) to the biography of a mathematical philosopher (Logicomix) to tales of a dorky Canadian battling his girlfriends seven evil exes (Scott Pilgrim Saves the World), I’ve been incredibly impressed by the integration of art and language. It’s incredibly encouraging that so many artists and writers are committed to growing the format as its own art form.
Of course, the fact that it took me this long to really get behind the movement in full force probably speaks to a bit of snobbishness that I held onto until now.
I’d love to hear if any of our readers are graphic novel obsessives. And I’m completely open to suggestions for what to read next!