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one more comic related post

I'm thinking of starting a comics blog in addition to this blog. Maybe it could be a group blog. Maybe. Thinking on it.

For now, I'd like you comic lovers to answer a few questions for something I'm working on, which may or may not see the light of day, depending on my procrastination and avoidance levels in the coming weeks.

Ok basically, it's one question in several parts.. Answer can be anywhere from one word to a thesis. Answer here, on your own blog, or email me. Take your time.

Q: Should graphic novels be considered literature and, if so, should students be allowed to write book reports on them and should they be made available in school libraries (say high school, college) and in public libaries, and (ok so I'm combining several questions into one in order to make it look like just one question) does your public library carry any graphic novels and (last one) do you read comics in public - meaning, do you hide the fact that you are a comic junkie because you feel there is a certain stigma involved in being a comic book reading adult?

Yea, that's about it. And if you are interested in a comic-related group blog, let me know. But I don't want to be in charge.


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Sure, a graphic novel is part of the canon of literature. As to whether they should be included in book reports, there's definitely an element of value to the suggestion, but i'd imagine that the quality would have to be sufficiently high, and the moral or social focus sufficiently relevant, to argue over the inevitable parental outcry.

Because, believe me, it's gonna be the parents that complain. It's just a perspective thing. Graphic Novels are just not the sort of thing that 'intellectual' children should be reading, in much the same ways as intellectuals wouldn't go anywhere near the novel in the 18th and 19th centuries, and wouldn't touch anything written in English before Milton wrote Paradise Lost. It's just socially-approved ignorance. It gives people an excuse to restrict their input to a small number of sources, cos, hey, makes life easier, doesn't it?

Not only should they be literature, I have consistently (well, since 87) refered to them as Graphic Literature, and not graphic novels. But I'm slightly more off kilter than most. Why didn't my school have a Graphic Lit program?!!

I don't have a strong comic background, but I believe that graphic novels are a valid form of literature. Plot, imagery, character development, symbolism...it's all there with some pretty compelling presentation. Just because comics are a melding of images and text doesn't make them any less valuable than Shakespeare. It's taken a long time for film to be included in literary and comparative studies, so I expect comics will come along in another 10-20 years.

I'm so convinced of this unique notion (and in my traditionalist department, I'm a loner on this one) that I want to include a graphic novel in my composition (ENGL 101/102) courses next year... I just need to catch up on the genres and get some good samples to evaluate before making a final decision. Suggestions? I keep hearing good things about Watchmen, but I haven't located a copy yet to read.

Hell yeah comics are literature. If kids can use John Fucking Grisham in their book reports, Alan Moore and Warren Ellis sure as hell qualify.

And I'd definitely be interested in a comics group-blog.

1.) Yep, I'd certainly consider graphic novels as literature. What else would they be?

2.) Nope, I don't think they should necessarily be considered as proper subjects for book reports, etc. Some could, others are just too short and shallow, so where would a teacher draw the line, ya know? Now, if a teacher could specify specific graphic novels as acceptable, that'd be OK.

3.) I have no idea if my public library carries graphic novels; I've not seen any there, but I've never really looked for them - there.

4.) Do I read my comics in public? No, not really. It's not that I'm ashamed of them. But I collect them. I bag and board them as soon as I get home from the comics store, and only take them out of their bags when I want to read them. If I read them on the bus, they might get grabbed or soiled or something.

5.) Yeah, I like the idea of a group comics blog. I currently do summaries/reviews of some of my older comics on my blog on Mondays and Fridays. I was doing it 5 days a week, but I got tired of that.

Heck yeah! I live in the same small town as Max Alan Collins, writer of the graphic novel "Road to Perdition". Not a bad read and not a bad movie either. Also Max (and his father) wrote the Dick Tracy comics for years.

As far as letting students do book reports on them; sure. Why not? As long as it isn't some plagiarized stuff from a writer or blogger on the internet (of course that goes for any book reports). I am not sure most graphic novels will give students in more advanced classes enough material to make a suitable book report, unless the teacher doesn't care about quantity of content.

Strangely, I just wrote about how I love romance novels. I compared people's reaction to that to how people probably react to those who read comic books (okay, sorry, 'graphic novels'). I think the stigma is there and it sucks. I am waging a war on literature elitists.

Hmm, The better graphic novels are great art of course. Lots of old superman or micky mouse comics are tripe for kids.

You should be able to study or write reports on the better stuff, at least to the same extent as you can do that with other visual arts like movies.. After all comics are visual arts and it takes a different kind of understanding to write about visual arts than it does to write about purely verbal artwork.

All in all though, it doesn't really matter to me whether schools recognize comics. It seems to me that colleges turn out academically trendy "writers" who I just can't stand, and that the worlds better artists seem to learn and to study from those they appreciate, not from schools anyway.

In visual arts, American colleges have an even worse record than they do in literature. It takes a person maybe 15 years of practice to become a visual artist and since college degrees are 4 years to 8 years, half spent on other subjects they have to fake the whole thing to even pretend to teach visual arts.

European schools recognize that visual arts can't be learned from scratch at college and they require their students to already be highly skilled and talented to even be let in, but that's no way for a school to make big bucks so we don't do that in this country. So its all completely faked.

Yes, graphic novels should be considered literature. Students should be able to write book reports on graphic novels, as long as it is a graphic novel and not a trade paperback, common confusion. But it should be a common assignment for everyone, not just one students attempt to get out of reading an actual novel. The past three colleges I've been to have had graphic novels available and my local libraries have them available. Yeah, I read comics in public, people give me funny looks and make comments about it, but at least I'm reading something.

Yes. Prime example: "The Dark Knight Returns" - There was everything in it that any good novel I've ever read had. The political commentaries on it with Reagan were priceless, as were social issues (like crime, racism, and how Pearl Harbor was "too big to judge"), and the effects of a nuclear missle exploding on the other side of the world.

Frank Miller can kick Tom Clancy's ass any day. Just because it had artwork in it, it's shouldn't be a literary masterpiece?

I'm way too busy to help with a comics blog... but it's definitely something I'd love to support.

I wasn't even allowed to do a book report on a novel featuring comic book characters (one of those Diane Duane Spider-Man novels), so I have a feeling the whole graphic novel book report isn't in the cards... but they are literature, and there are libraries that have them. Just not enough.

Sure, graphic novels are literature, and I don't mean just for the 4-8 crowd.

Long ago in another life I was a school librarian and the collection ran the gamut from classics to what we called hi-interest low-vocabulary to what would be classed as thick comic books. Heck we even had the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition (shelf life after the Grade Nine boys discovered it was in: twelve nanoseconds).. Whatever got kids reading.

Comics should definitely be considered literature. They can be just as effective, if not more so, in conveying a story with real emotion and immediacy. Personally, I have been a reader for more than half of my life and I am not planning on stopping now. Neil Gaiman's Sandman, tell me thats not high lit!?!? You can't. The Crow, Aria, Cerberus, Watchmen, Rising Stars, Strangers in Paradise, Kabuki, hell Chris Claremont's X-Men run is an epic literary drama of unequaled proportion. My local library carries some graphic novels, especially Will Eisner stuff, which I find to be very cool. I not only do not hide my comic geek roots, I flaunt them. People reading only the author du jour have no room to criticize those of us with the taste to read and enjoy all forms of lit.

In closing I would love to be in on the comix blog if one were to happen.


yipes, I was so excited I forgot to weigh in on comics bookreports. I think that GNs or a particular arc of a series would be a fine bookreport. Length would definitely be taken into account. I'm not sure I would segregate a report on a GN from regular reports, though, have to think on that some more, but my initial reaction is no. I would, of course, recommend that a student not be allowed to read ONLY comix/GNs in lieu of novels.

Plenty of comic books are crap, but then again so are plenty of regular books. How does the teacher decide? I suppose it boils down to whether the teacher wants to be creative or not.

Also, if the point is to teach reading skills (rather than analysis) then some comics can be too low on textual content to be useful.

Another problem is that some of the more literate comics are very self-referential, and if you are not familiar with a wide range of the genre you will miss the subtlety and depth.

It is rare for me to read anything in public, and pocket novels are much easier to carry around. Plus there is the damage factor that Roscoe mentioned.

Graphic novels can be literature, but much of what's packaged as such is basically just a collection of serialized comics. Nothing wrong with 'em as such, but they ain't novels per se.

As to whether they should be allowed for a book report, I'd say it depends on the title and the skill level of the writer doing the report. This a.m. I started working on a blog review of James Kochalka's new Monkey Vs. Robot book: a far cry from the more densely text-layered work of Alan Moore, say - its plot can be summarized up in a paragraph, but its visual peasures are really rich. Would a kid be able to write a good book report about the way that Kochalka evokes nature through his simple linework? I suspect it'd be tough.


That about covers it.

If you can teach a course on film, you can damn well teach one on graphic novels.