Amazing new genre pushing boundaries

As a family we’ve recently been on a graphic novels kick.

It certainly makes for shared reading, because books can be savoured and re-read within a realistic time frame.  With text intense books, what often happens is one person gets to read the book from beginning to end and then it’s due back to the library.  Or by the time the second reader is well into the book the first reader has either forgotten vital details, or even worse, blurts out bits of plot and ruins the surprise.  “The butler did it — oops, sorry!”

Despite what you might think, graphic novels can deal with tough, adult subjects.  Art Spiegelman’s Maus springs to mind.  I had read the first version when it came out ages ago, but the most recent edition has more material, and more harrowing material.

We’ve also read Guy Delisle’s Jerusalem, Chronicles from the Holy City   and his Burma Chronicles, Pyongyang (North Korea) and Shenzhen

Young Sprout of course is not ready for adult narrative but has been reading the Little Prince series.  These have a steampunk esthetic and a sophisticated narrative technique. In each story the Little Prince and Fox, his companion, land on a different planet and have to figure out how to help the inhabitants deal with their problems — leading to discussions about motivations and character and why he might like some stories more than others.

Lauren Redniss has pushed this genre to a whole new level.  Radioactive, Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout  combines     the biography of Marie Curie with many sidebars about nuclear war, nuclear tests, nuclear energy, chemotherapy, x-rays.  The artwork is done with cyanotype  a     type of sun printing.  (<<<<  this link includes a slideshow of selected pages to get a tiny idea of the book).

Ah, what inspiration!

More to follow on the resulting output — but that’s a post for another day!

P.S.  No, it’s not lost on me that ironically, a post about graphic novels has no image.

P.P.S.  Most of the links are to Amazon.ca (Canadian website).  Readers in other countries should Google to see if Amazon has a site in their home country.

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Graphic Novels & Diet

At the Pacific Festival of the Book event yesterday, I enjoyed a slide presentation by Martin Springett, an illustrator and author whose work really does have a magical touch.

He’s working on a three-volume epic graphic novel, The Wixletree, for which he is still trying to find a publisher.  The subtext is his belief that the creative artists are the underclass of society and do all the heavy lifting.  I suspect that growing up in Britain informs this awareness of class structure.  Without a doubt, Britain is the most caste-conscious society outside of Asia, and is something that stays with those who grew up there.  Speaking from personal experience there.

Seeing his illustrations and hearing his stories tickled my intermittent desire to tell more stories.

I recently enjoyed reading The Big Skinny, by Carol Lay, a graphic novel about diet and body image filled with good advice.  As a family we are trying to reorder our diet, and I find myself thinking about this book often.  There’s something about the combination of words and pictures that makes a deeper impression than words alone and is more engaging than passively watching a movie.