So Much Bigger: Comics, Graphic Novels, and a Thousand Words More
I often hear folks say that reading comic book doesn’t really count as reading. It’s a trained response, really. I’m not going to say that everyone out there is going to LOVE every comic book or graphic novel ever. That’s silly. We each come at reading a little differently and we each find the appealing in what we read in our own unique way. Still, there’s this slight nose crinkle that twitches up automatically when I recommend a graphic novel series to someone who doesn’t believe such works are *real* books. And I just want to say…the world of literature is so much bigger than we can imagine. As cliche as it is, sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
Case and point: a recent xkcd (webcomic), at first glance, is just kinda a cute strip. The world is sad. The world is wonderful. The world is big. Huh. Cute. Whatever. But then there’s more… That final panel – about being big – click on it and drag. There’s a lot more to that story than just the first page.
And, I’d say that’s the case about many of our graphic novels. Fun fact. A study done in 1988 established that comic books had 53.5 rare words per 1000. That’s a little more than adult novels (at 52.7) and a lot more than “educational” television shows like Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street (only 2 rare words per 1000). What’s that mean? Comic books build vocabulary. How really awesome is that?
Interested in trying something new? If you’re unsure of where to start, there’s a lot of directions to go.
Of course there’s the deep ones too… Like Laurie Sandell’s The Impostor’s Daughter about a young lady struggling with her identity when she realizes her father was a compulsive liar and everything she thought she knew about him was just a tale.
Or the story of a heroine with questionable sanity in the Joe Kelly’s I Kill Giants.
Or the entirely wordless but evocative Arrival by Shaun Tan. (This book probably taught me the most about learning to read…despite the lack of words!)
So, next time you’re dropping by the library to grab a book to read, don’t shy away from the ones with pictures. They offer a lot more than what first meets the eye!