Terri has posed this week’s discussion topic about graphic novels. She asks
Do you read graphic novels or memoirs? Who are your favorite authors? Which books do you recommend? If you haven’t read any, why not? Some people have the impression that graphic novels are glorified comic books, are unsophisticated or don’t qualify as “serious” literature. What do you think? If you track your book numbers, do you count a graphic novel as a book read?
The short answer is no. I don’t read graphic novels. I’ve read one, a re-print of Will Eisner’s A Contract with God that was originally published in the 70’s but was re-printed a few years ago. And I only read because someone gave it to me as a present and waited patiently for my opinion. Thankfully I wasn’t writing reviews then because I would have struggled to come up with much more than the “it was nice” I said to my generous but slightly misguided friend.
Why don’t I read graphic novels? I’m just not a very visual person and the pictures get in the way of the storytelling for me. I felt the same way about the comic books I was given when I was a kid. I’m sure it sounds odd but I’m the sort of person who would choose a book over a movie every time. I don’t just mean that I would choose the book versus its movie adaptation (though I invariably would) but when offered a choice of what entertainment to consume in a given period I will choose words (in written or audio format) over pictures every time because I find that a better storytelling medium for me. Perhaps it’s because I have a vivid imagination and create my own pictures or perhaps it’s because my brain is wired oddly but if I want to retain information about what I’m consuming I need to read it or hear it.
Just to be clear I’m not ‘against’ graphic novels, I don’t think they’re a less sophisticated form of storytelling and I don’t think I’m superior to those who do enjoy them. It’s simply that just as some people can’t listen to audio books because the words don’t sink in the same way that written words do, illustrated stories of the kind found in comics and graphic novels just don’t sink into my brain.