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Blog 08.30.2019

Graphic Novels in the Mainstream

Graphic novels are often seen as an extension of comics and are thus dismissed as a legitimate literary medium, but these colorfully composed stories are beneficial to readers. Young adults and children benefit from graphic novels, as these stories help facilitate important literacy milestones. The vocabulary and subject matters included in graphic novels are often of a higher level than chapter books intended for the same audience. This helps children and young adults learn in a way that is visually engaging and in a way that keeps their minds stimulated throughout the reading process.

In addition to providing children with a more engrossing way of reading, graphic novels have filled a void in the literary world. Prominent book award contests, such as the Man Booker Prize, are recognizing the importance of graphic novels as a new literary medium. These expressive novels convey deeper meanings to readers of all ages and possess beautifully composed sentences amid carefully designed imagery. Graphic novels are effectively paving the way for a new generation of readers and the literary world has begun to acknowledge this trailblazing.

Importance of Graphic Novels as a Niche Genre

Niche genres in the literary world help provide reading material to those who struggle with conventional novel formats. Many individuals who enjoyed comic books in their youth enjoy sticking with the artistic medium into adulthood, though this limits their reading options. Graphic novels step into the space that exists between comic books and novels, as they provide readers with substantive information while remaining visually appealing. Many authors, such as Marjane Satrapi, have begun to use the graphic medium to convey personal experiences. These graphic autobiographies discuss themes of war, revolution, and loss.

Illustrated in accordance with the story they tell, graphic autobiographies and graphic novels provide mature readers with a refreshing take on difficult subjects. They are not merely an extension of comic books, but a modern adaptation of them. Graphic novels are filled with heroes and villains, denouements and cliffhangers, in much the same way as standard novels. The only difference is that they are providing visual elements to help deepen the reader’s understanding of their underlying messages.

The graphic novels geared toward children feature age-appropriate themes and images. They often appeal to children in varying reading groups. Graphic novels present a helpful challenge to those who are struggling to read, and they provide a slight respite for those in more advanced reading levels. Due to their adaptability to fit any reading level and subject material, graphic novels stand within a genre of their own making. They can be crafted for children, teenagers, and adults. Graphic novels encompass science fiction stories, biographical recollections, and tales of standard fiction.

While other genres can encompass several themes at once, graphic novels are unique in their execution of this niche. Since the format is adaptable, both authors and illustrators work to mold the format into whichever shape best fits the story they are trying to tell. The most popular graphic novels often depict tales of superhero franchises, many of which have become adapted into movies and television shows. This allows graphic novels to hold a specific space both in terms of artistry and in literacy as well.

Graphic Novels Help Reluctant Readers

Graphic novels provide a beneficial alternative to reading for young adults and children who struggle to read printed stories. Many individuals have an easier time grasping words and concepts in a visual format and prefer to learn through visual examples. Graphic novels tell a story with words, but the words become easier to understand when a child looks at the corresponding images. This literary medium allows readers to decipher the context of the story by piecing together the words and images on the page. Additionally, graphic novels help young readers infer meaning from the facial expressions and actions of characters, which ultimately prepares them for media comprehension.

Many graphic novels geared toward children, such as OAK: Rise of the Spring Son by Al Diaz, contain high-level vocabulary words. These vocabulary words help promote literacy in children, and they allow children to learn higher-level literacy skills at an earlier age. Children and young adults who struggle to learn new words benefit from reading graphic novels are they are more likely to be exposed to a variety of new words.

For children and young adults who display artistic traits and who are interested in drawing, graphic novels provide them with a visual representation of what they can achieve with their skill set. The design features in graphic novels show children how printed words can be transformed into visual representations and adaptations. This allows children to hone their artistic craft while improving their literacy.

Graphic Novels Are Discovering Prominence in Notable Book Contests

Judges involved in the selection process for the Man Booker Prize have stated that graphic novels have become a prominent form of storytelling in recent years. Authors are stepping away from the typical fiction box in favor of taking a more creative approach to the stories they intend to tell audiences. The genre, with its newfound prestige and acknowledgment, has been recognized as the serious medium it always has been.

Additional book award contests, such as the Costa book award, have started to include graphic novels in their selection process each year. This appreciation for graphic novels was initially sparked in 1991 when Art Spiegelman published Maus, a graphic novel depicting events from the Holocaust. It was through this publication that book award judges began to understand the sense of emotion conveyed in novels featuring imagery alongside poignant messages. Since the publication in 1991, the literary world has seen a steady stream of graphic novels featuring impactful messages. Many of these novels have gone on to achieve critical acclaim, and several have been nominated for prestigious literary awards.

The recognition bestowed upon graphic novels within these prominent book award contests has established this niche genre as one worthy of note. Spiegelman went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Maus which set a high standard for all graphic novelists following in his footsteps.

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