When I started working at the Austin Public Library, I had never read a single comic book or graphic novel. Sure, I had read comics like Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and The Far Side, but not a true story told in words and pictures through the use of panels on the page. Six years later and I'm hooked; I've joined the Graphic Novel Book Club, binged an entire series in one sitting, and even begun writing my own. I have been introduced to the Eisner awards, cosplay, and recently, the idea of adapting traditional novels into graphic novels.
Drawings being used to tell stories is not a new concept; it is believed that cave paintings were a way to do just that. An evolving culture and new inventions brought variety to how we tell our stories: from the oral storytelling described in Part I of this blog series to words on paper, moving images on screen, and now the artful trend of graphic novels. As the graphic novel pool of creators expands, so too does their audience base. They no longer just depict superheroes or feature adventure tales meant to suit young male readers. These days you can find works of non-fiction, memoirs, coming-of-age stories, and book adaptations done in this illustrated and paneled format. I find the latter of these the most intriguing. As a library worker and lover of great literature, it thrills me to know that authors like Edgar Allan Poe and titles like The Hobbit are accessible and appealing to a greater variety of readers.
Austin Public Library has a growing Graphic Novel collection, which includes a wide variety of classic, young adult, and contemporary literature adapted to the graphic novel format. You can discover and explore these materials both from our physical collection and through our virtual library.
There are many things that divide us as humans, but there is one thing that clearly unites us: storytelling. Stories can vary by culture and method, but at the core they convey something about who we were, are, or hope to be.
As cultures develop, so too do the methods in which stories are told. In this four-part blog series, I look to highlight some of the methods of storytelling that are alternatives to the traditional novel.