I've often met with derisive sighs when they find me reading a graphic novel. It can be credited to the fact that in India graphic novels are not generally excepted as a literary piece or even a piece of art for that matter; but the bigger reason is the lack of knowledge about what goes behind the conjuring of a good graphic novel.
Let me not use a fancy term as Graphic Novel. Let me just call it a comic book.
So, what's not to like in a good comic book? The artwork is amazing, the literary material top-notch, the story a thoughtful experience! So, why is it that generally it's labelled to be read only by kids? Why not adults? I attribute it to the perception that adults (as opposed to children) know better. I believe as we grow we start compartmentalizing our experiences - these are childish, these are immoral, these are stupid, these are bad, these are good; all categorized in that invisible shelf inside our head. It's not our fault; it is because of the regular conditioning that we go through our lifetime.
The adult categorization puts a comic book in Childish section while a novel in Mature section. Therein lies the big problem. I agree that there are comic books especially made for kids. But lets not get there! I'm talking about literary-rich and art-abundant books like V FOR VENDETTA and SIN CITY.
Below are the pages from V FOR VENDETTA and SIN CITY.
The stories are written by brilliant writers, and the penciling, inking, colouring and paneling done by bright artists. Every panel, every page is rich with art and literary content adding up to a wonderful story. Lately, digital media has taken over the production on a graphic novel, which are magnificent in all aspect. Yet there is something about drawings made in traditional methods that still appeals me. There is a lot of thought, priceless conversations that hold no record other than scribbling and sketches in notebooks, character-building, witty and appropriate dialogues, appealing snapshot panels, and loads of sleepless nights that goes behind the beginning of a graphic novel.
The birth of telling story using pictures dates back to ages when man lived in a cave. Thereafter stories were told using hieroglyphs in Egypt, carvings in Aztec and Mayan civilization, and all parts of world.
Recently, I got a chance to get my hands upon a few amazing graphic novels - V FOR VENDETTA written by inexplicably excellent writer, Alan Moore, the dark and brilliant BATMAN - THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller, who is also the writer of SIN CITY and 300 (yes, 300 was a graphic novel before it came out to be a movie), the surreal artwork filled ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean
Below are pages from BATMAN - THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, ARKHAM ASYLUM: A SERIOUS HOUSE ON SERIOUS EARTH, and 300
It was very enjoyable and overwhelming to see such good art in the form of story. There is a lot of graphic novels that I've listed to read further. Just gearing up!
I hope you find it in you to bring yourself to at least glance into the colourful, and sometimes bleak and gritty world of graphic novels, because I believe that they are one of the most essential media where art meets literature.