The New Art of Reading

When I’m not running I can often be found reading and writing. I received a degree in Art Education and have always had a deep love for art and the many forms in which it is presented. These loves combine brilliantly in the form of graphic novels.

For those unfamiliar with the genre of graphic novels they are basically comic books on steroids. They combine the craft of writing with vivid artworks into one seamless package. I worked for years as an art teacher and was a champion for both art and reading in my classroom. I bought several age appropriate graphic novels for students to read when they had finished their projects. They were a huge success! I believe they are a wonderful bridge for students to learn to love reading and to gain knowledge when they might not enjoy reading novels.

There are many kinds of graphic novels as it is a form for all genres of writing. You can find graphic novels on anything – history, adventure, mystery, classic literature, comedy, romance, science fiction, and on and on. Many graphic novels have made their way to the big screen. More mainstream superheroes like the Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, Superman are probably better known, but there have also been others such as A History of Violence, Persepolis, Ghost World, and 300.

Graphic novels have been used for political stances, for historical documentation, memoirs, and to shock and awe their readers. Maus by Art Spieglman is a great example of using the medium of the graphic novel to convey a message. The story revolves around a mouse family caught in Germany during the Holocaust and the Nazis are represented as cats. Its a creative way to present such a history of tragic events.

Here are some of my favorites:

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, Lark Pien – As the title suggests it’s about a Chinese boy who was born in America. A parallel story of a Chinese story about a monkey king runs through the graphic novel drawing connections between his adventures and the boy’s understanding of the world.

Blankets by Craig Thompson – Beautiful black and white illustrations document a boy’s journey to becoming a man.

Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore – (Series) Amazing illustrations highlight a feast of dramatic relationships and romantic entanglements, action, betrayal, and friendships.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan – (Series) Vivid color illustrations bring its readers into a world where a mysterious disease wipes out all the men on Earth except for one man and his male monkey. Readers follow this man on his journey for answers and seeing what might happen if societies as we know them broke down in a single day.

Howl’s Moving Castle  by Hayao Miyazaki – A beautiful manga graphic novel (Japanese animation and read from right to left) that follows a young girl who has been bewitched and her voyage with Howl a wizard to find a cure and save her world from destruction. Also an amazing movie.

Step outside the notion that comics are just for kids and pick up a graphic novel today!

  1. February 1st, 2010
  2. June 14th, 2010

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