Comics & Graphic Novels Textbooks
While some may consider it a genre of fiction, comics are actually an artistic medium unto itself, possessing attributes that distinguish it from any other. Though all cultures have their own traditions involving comics, the most prominent examples of the medium are American comic books, Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées, and Japanese 漫画 (manga). Differing mostly in stylistic convention and tropes, they fuse illustrations and text into coherent descriptions that are as visually appealing as they are narratively compelling.
In the United States, comic books are strongly associated with youth culture, characterized by hyperbolic story telling with superlative characters known as ‘super heroes’. Paragons of this style are writer Stan Lee, artist Jack Kirby, artist/writer Steve Ditko, artist/writer Todd McFarlane, and artist/writer Jim Lee.
A variant of the comic book medium is the graphic novel, which despite its name rarely parallels true novels in length or use of prose, but by analogy is greater in length than the typical 32 page length of standard comic books and uses superior paper and binding. Also, graphic novels are frequently stand-alone narratives, unlike the serialized stories of comic books. Still, many graphic novel writers and artists contend that graphic novels are no more than comic books in more expensive binding, differing in no other way. Regardless of the term’s propriety, many graphic novels have received critical acclaim as prime examples of the medium’s strength in illustrative narrative. Such would include Maus by Art Spiegelman, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.
Manga, the Japanese analog to comic books, has transcended the nation of its origin to become an aesthetic mode that many non-Japanese artists have adopted for their stories. Readers all over the world are captivated with the idiosyncrasies of its visual conventions and themes. Masterful examples of medium include Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka, Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo, and Ghost in Shell by Masamune Shirow.
Comic books and graphic novels are a medium capable of telling any tale and addressing any audience in their unique fashion, with as much range as that of any medium of communication. Like Clark Kent shedding his clothes to become Superman, shed your preconceptions and grab a comic book or graphic novel from Bookbyte. You’ll become a superfan!