Thursday, December 06, 2012

Try a Graphic Novel!

Library staff made a concerted effort this year to significantly augment our Graphic Novel Collection. The popularity of this genre (definition: a narrative work in which the story is conveyed using sequential art, usually in a comics format.) has grown exponentially and has great appeal among readers the library world now calls “New Adults” (definition:  persons in their twenties  still finding their way in building a life and figuring out what it means to be an adult. Term coined in 2009 by St. Martin’s Press!)  We’d already collected lots of anime and manga for children and teens, but our paltry collection of comic books for adults were interfiled among the regular fiction titles.
Now we have a Graphic Novel section (which also encompasses non-fiction, memoirs and short stories) at the beginning of our stacks and we’ve added nearly 100 new titles in 2012. Many popular authors of traditional print books have also embraced the format: Jonathan Kellerman, James Patterson, Anthony Bourdain, Dean Koontz, and Janet Evanovich are among those prose writers with new graphic novels co-written with illustrators.
There are also many adaptations of the bestsellers and classics now in graphic form including: The Hobbit, A Wrinkle in Time, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Odyssey, Game of Thrones, and the Wheel of Time series.  These aren’t the old “Classics Illustrated” comic books from the 1950s and 60s, but modern retellings with superb illustrations. Try “The Graphic Canon, vol. 1” for a glimpse of everything from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare in highly-stylized comic book form.
Although we have most of the “Year’s Best” graphic novels (Sailor Twain; Are You My Mother?; My Friend Dahmer; Jerusalem; Journalism; Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt; Marbles; Saga Vol. 1; The Hive; Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes; Drawn Together; Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me), the book named to every critic’s 2012 “Best” list is one which we will not buy! It is “Building Stories” by Chris Ware,  which depicts the lives of the tenants of a Chicago apartment building. The “book” is really a box, and inside the box are 14 differently sized, formatted, and bound pieces: books, pamphlets, broadsheets, scraps, and even a unfoldable board that would be at home in a Monopoly box ($50).  It sounds fascinating and I’d love to see it and explore it (I’ve heard you can read the “pieces” in any order you choose) but Ware’s “book” would not last 2 circulations in the public library before someone would lose, misplace, or tear a piece and ruin the story for others!  We have enough trouble keeping track of all the audio CDs contained within the packaging of an audiobook (at least once a day we find a disk missing and discover it’s been inadvertently left behind in someone’s device or car.)
So you can understand why we won’t purchase “Building Stories” but we do now have hundreds of graphic novels for all ages (new adults and old ones!) and we invite you to explore this burgeoning new genre at your library!

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