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The Scoop from Brad & Lissa
It’s not uncommon for American readers of certain generations to regard graphic novels as a lesser literary genre. After all, stories told in pictures can’t possibly be as rigorous or challenging as those conveyed solely with words and text, right?
Although classic series such as Tintin and Asterix have long enthralled American readers of all ages, graphic novels overall have lagged in popularity here compared to elsewhere. Indeed, in much of the world comics enjoy an elevated status in the literary pantheon and are regarded as having as much artistic merit as traditional textual works. In many countries, graphic novels are routinely assigned in schools.
Now the landscape has begun to change in the United States, too, as the genre of graphic novels gains greater traction with Americans. The booming popularity of Japanese manga as well as “hybrid” novels like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Lincoln Pierce’s Big Nate have made graphic novels one of the fastest-growing genres in the publishing industry, especially among younger readers. In turn, greater demand and availability have led to more sophisticated and evocative works that engage readers on topics ranging from history to mythology to politics to romance.
To help readers understand and appreciate this exciting and evolving genre, Politics & Prose is proud to host our first graphic novels panel discussion and book signing featuring some of the leading graphic novelists in the field today. Participating will be: Eleanor Davis, whose Stinky has transformed the often uninspiring repetitive text of traditional easy readers for school-age kids; Nathan Hale, a non-fiction graphic novelist whose Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series makes history at once interesting and hilarious; Andres Vera Martinez, who uses a graphic format in Little White Duck, an autobiographical story by his wife Na Liu, to explore and challenge traditional narratives of communist China from a child's perspective; and Mark Siegel, author of Sailor Twain, a graphic novel for adults that blends history, mermaid mythology, and epic romance with the moodiness of dark charcoal art to play with the boundaries of the reader's reality. Michael Cavna, cartoonist and writer for the Washington Post and author of the Comics Riffs blog, will serve as the panel’s moderator.
The event will be held Thursday, April 25, at 7:00 p.m. Entitled “Growing Up With Graphics,” it will explore the unique value of graphics for younger and beginning readers as well as adults, the future of the graphic novel here and around the world, and technical issues relating to content, context, and presentation.
The discussion promises to be inspiring, informative and, of course, illustrative. Whether you are new to graphic novels or already an expert, we hope you can join us.
- Brad and Lissa