What is the difference between graphic novels and comic books?
Comics: monthly, serialized, using cheap papers and staples
Comic strip: short strip of cartoons published in newspaper, magazine
Graphic Novel: narrative work which uses comics to convey the story
May be original story, fiction or even non fiction, or collection of shorter works.
Book length and published using book materials, sold in book stores.
Is the “graphic novel” a genre?
No, ‘comics’ is the name of a medium – the genre refers to the content matter e.g. superhero; social criticism, etc
Stories originally told through pictures: cave paintings ; tapestries (Bayeaux 1077); woodcut illustrations.
Early 1900’s: collections of comic strips became popular in US
1933: Funnies on Parade was the first regularly published comic book.
1938: Superman first appeared in Action Comics.
collections of comic
strips were bound in
book form and sold.
The Adventures of Tintin, Asterix
wrote long stories
for children in this
format in 1970’s
The Golden Age of comics
late1930’s - late1940’s: provided cheap, easy entertainment for troops in WWII
Captain Marvel also dual identity superhero…but a teenage boy
Batman, Wonderwoman, all with magical reasons for their superpowers
Similar characters – too good to be true!
So they just grew in popularity?
No … concerns about effects on young people.
1954: Seduction of the Innocent by Dr Fredric Wertham was published … blamed juvenile delinquency on comic books
‘ Code of Conduct’ was created to regulate content and curb violence
The Silver Age of comics
1956 – 1970
Updated versions of Superheroes … new costumes, identities.
Characters more realistic, “self doubting and flawed”.
Magic – out; Science – in!
‘ The Flash ’ published in Showcase #4
Girls and children targeted: Casper, Richie Rich, Little Dot.
The Bronze Age of comics
1970’s – 1980’s
Interest in real world social issues e.g. drug abuse, racial prejudice.
Amazing Spiderman (3 part) 1971 commis s ioned by US govt . to make drug usage seem dangerous and unglamorous
Superman #105 1970
The Modern Age of comics
Mid 1980’s – present time
Subject matter much darker
Heroes psychologically more complex
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Artistically more developed
Anti heroes common e.g. Wolverine
Superman in USA Today July 2009
The Watch- men
These are comic books. What about Graphic Novels?
First modern graphic novel generally accepted as 1978 Will Eisner A Contract with God and Other Stories of Tenement Life
Serious content about life in 1930’s Bronx; not aimed at teenage or children’s market
1987: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Speigelman
Biographical family memoir of Holocaust
1992: won Pulitzer prize for Literature
What are ‘anime’ and ‘manga’?
Anime: Japanese–style animation … popular with children in US 1990’s.
Manga: Japanese-style comics often for adults, fiction and non fiction, works of literature
What to look for … layout 1.
Layout of page
Read left to right and top to bottom
Number and size of panels – emphasis, pacing, flow of story
Use of negative space (white bits in between panels)
Visuals within panel
Like a storyboard for film
Perspective (high/low angle; close up etc)
Point of view (clear/blocked view … through a window, etc)
Visuals: style of artwork
realistic – objective but flat, everyday
Caricature – subjective but lively, exciting
Often mixture used
Lines- strong, thick or thin, faint
Effect on reader?
Visuals: color versus black/white
Use of particular color palettes
Effect on mood?
Where are the words?
3 rd person narration
Shape of balloon
Point of view of story
Type of language used
White space or ‘gutter’ 6.
Notice change between panels/frames – leads to ‘static’ or ‘dynamic’ stories
Time lapse: how much must we ‘fill in’ with our imagination
Similarity between frames can be tedious … too much difference can be confusing
Points of interest 7.
Contrast of text and image may produce irony
Image enhances text
Text supports image
Allusions to real events, politics, etc
Non Fiction Examples:
The Cartoon History of the Universe II (Gonick, 1994) covers the history of China and India up to the fall of Rome with irony and humor
9–11: Artists Respond (Chaos! Comics, Dark Horse Comics, & Image, 2002). In it various well-known comic artists like Will Eisner and Frank Miller respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Pieces touch on the heroics of the rescuers, the fears of children, reflections on hate, and much more.
Larry Gonick and Wollcott Smith wrote The Cartoon Guide to Statistics (1993).
The Four Immigrants Manga (Kiyama, 1999), was recently discovered and translated into English. It describes the life of four Japanese immigrants in San Francisco, California, from 1904 to 1924.