The rise of comics and graphic novels

kapowPreviously: Celebrating graphic novels (1/5)

Using pictures to tell stories is nothing new, but comics and graphic novels are only recently starting to receive the literary recognition they deserve. More than ever readers, teachers and librarians are recognising that comics and graphic novels offer a complex storytelling platform for a range of narratives and topics.

Comics and graphic novels have come a long way since the Thwack! Bam! Kapow! storylines of the early mass marketed superhero stories. In addition to the superhero canon, readers are now able to find a large number of classics and contemporary texts reimagined in graphic form and there are also a number of significant standalone contemporary comics that speak to themes such as diversity, sexuality, displacement and adolescence.

Will Eisner (the ‘father of the Graphic Novel’) described comics as sequential art. He was referring to the way that comics use a series of images to tell a story – words or not, it is the artwork that carries the story forward. Comics and graphic novels are not a genre of literature because they can be about anything, rather they are a form or medium for telling a story.

Whether simple action stories or more complex literary ideas, comics and graphic novels deserve a place in the classroom because of their ability to engage readers (particularly those who struggle with traditional texts) on multiple levels. Comics and graphic novels develop language, attention and understanding, as well as building the critical thinking and sequencing skills necessary for readers to ingest this type of work.

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Next: Comics 101 – A Brief History

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