acebauer (acebauer) wrote,

Are graphic novels for kids? Part 3

- Sometimes graphic novels really are for kids.

- A whole lot of comics are.

- What’s wrong with that?

- Absolutely nothing. Except that there are more and more comics for grown ups that get mistakenly placed with children.

- Example?

- A compilation of vignettes about being a middle school kid.

Stuck in the Middle cover

- But the book gives a middle school perspective.

- Which is uniformly depressing, in a hind-sight, very adult perspective. Adults just out of their teens might like it. Maybe some older teens, too. I doubt middle schoolers would.

J.L. Bell also complains that many adult graphic novels are shelved for kids.

- And he has a point. But I don't agree with the examples he's given.

- Why?

- I think he’s forgotten that pictures do make things easier to read.

- What if the subject matter is difficult?

- Especially when the subject matter is difficult.

- You think so?

- Absolutely. In a graphic novel, you don’t have to wade through words to get an image. An artist provides you with one. And so, a harsh or involved scene can be described in a panel or two. The text can be limited to the absolute necessary to convey the complicated thoughts or emotions. You can in a very small space both show the person being terrified while saying something brave. Or have five different characters reacting differently, all in one panel. Or pause and give the reader time to think something through by providing a series of repeated panels.

- And this makes it more accessible.

- Sure. You don’t need literary skills to read the description. It’s given to you, in the pictures. The emotions aren’t described so much as drawn.

- And so a teen. . .

- Can follow the story more easily. Some of the reader's work is done in the pictures.

- So graphic novels are basically dumbed down novels?

- Not at all. The plots, ideas and emotions can still be very complicated. The subject matter can still be adult in nature.

- I'm confused. Earlier you said that there are graphic novels really just for adults. And now you say that those novels are also accessible to teens.

- Not all graphic novels are attractive to teens. The subject matter can be off-putting -- especially if it portrays kids as uniformly negative. Or  the pacing can turn away a more action-driven teen. But at the same time, many graphic novels with subject matters you would think would only be interesting to adults, become more approachable because they've become graphic novels.

- Like?

- Persepolis.

Persepolis cover


Maus cover


Laika cover

Town of Evening Calm; Country of Cherry Blossoms.

Town of evening calm cover

- And you think the pictures have something to do with making them accessible.

- Absolutely.

- I notice you picked Laika as one of your examples.

- Uh huh.

- I thought you didn’t like dead dog books.

- Despise them.

- Yet Laika. . .

- Still makes my point.

Tags: comics

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded