Graphic Novels.

A lesson that has constantly been emphasised to me is that it is always a good idea to look at and try out new and different things. Things you would assume are normally out of your comfort zone.

As an English student, it was expected of me to look at and study different texts and that is exactly what I did, and so I chose a module where we were to study graphic novels. As somebody who has read pieces composed mainly of writing and hardly any illustrations, looking at graphic novels was a whole new experience for me. One that I enjoyed very much. Some of the graphic novels which we studied were:

Maus by Art Spiegelman (one of my favourites)
Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (my absolute favourite)
Palestine by Joe Sacco
and a couple more.

2Maus was the first one on our reading list and so I got stuck in. As graphic novels have never appealed to me before, I did not know what they were about at all and did not expect the layout of the story to be what it was (like a comic strip). However, it was different and I found it a lot easier to read. The graphic novels such as Maus, Persepolis and Palestine are based on the true experiences of the author themselves. In terms of Maus, Spiegelman was writing about the Second World War and the Holocaust from his father’s point of view. He did this by giving a detailed and illustrated account of how he visited his father often to get the story out of him and hence, he composed it into the form of a graphic novel.
The imagery of it is incredible, powerful and effective all the same time. Spiegelman uses animals to represent people. The Jews are represented as mice, the Nazis as cats, the Brits as pigs and so on. By giving an extremely detailed and illustrated account of what his father went through, I as a reader, got a full understanding and insight of the events and their impact. It addresses a sensitive topic in a very interesting manner which simply had me hooked. It is one of the best graphic novels on my reading list and I recommend it if you’re just getting into graphic novels.

Persepolis is a complete insight into Satrapi’s life in Iran before and after the Islamic Revolution. It shows her maturing physically, mentally and emotionally. It is a tear rendering novel as it addresses the issues of war and how they have an effect  on families and their individuals. By looking at Satrapi’s personal point of view, it gives readers a reliable understanding of what really went on when Iran was transformed. You become her friend and you grow up with her whilst she battles with what life is throwing at her. This is what really sets it aside from the other graphic novels, in my opinion. I feel when you are reading a true account of something, it is very important to connect with the writer and Persepolis allows you to do just this.

3So you should get an idea on how graphic novels work. My time with them was nothing but pleasant and I enjoyed studying them ever so much that I just had to share my experience in hope that some, if not all, will take an interest in them and enjoy and experience what I have. They are fun to read because of their layout but their context addresses serious issues which gives them an interesting mix. This is what I like about them. They are different to other texts I have read and I would like it if you just glanced at one to see what they are all about because honestly, they are great. (:

  1. Like you I study English at uni and last semester I read Maus. I think graphic novels are dismissed by ‘Literature’ as not having as much depth as a novel can have which is completely untrue. Maus, for me, had so much depth than any other novel I have read so far on my university reading list – the struggle of identity that I saw through Art himself had so many levels and it was subtly hinted at through the combination of illustrations and text.

    I read Persepolis early last year in my own time and loved it. It’s true that Graphic novels so different in comparison to just text and I wish that more people would take them ‘seriously’ and not jump so quickly to dismiss them.

    1. I wouldn’t say they’re “dismissed” by literature for not having as much depth as any other mediocre piece of literature, although I do understand completely why you would say that. My opinion is that they are viewed differently, mainly due to their format but like you said, they can have as much depth to them as an ordinary novel, if not more, and vice versa. Different literary theorists will approach graphic novels in various manners. Some will take them “seriously” and some won’t. (: I’m glad you enjoyed Maus and Persepolis. They were two of my favourites and the inclusion of the illustrations and texts side by side definitely does deliver the story line in a way that a novel made up of only writing wouldn’t. I feel like if you enjoyed those two, you’ll definitely enjoy V for Vendetta. If it isn’t on your reading list, I highly recommend it. Happy reading.xo

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