Read On! In defense of comics


Graphic novels and comic books get a bad rap with some people in the reading world. They’re often labeled as “not real books” or “not reading.” I’d like to help change that perception. 

I understand the hesitation of finding legitimacy in reading graphic novels and comic books. One of the biggest misunderstandings is the misnomer of what we call this form of literature. “Graphic novel” implies that the images are graphic or inappropriate, but that is often not the case. Yes, there is plenty of violence and sex in the world of graphic novels, but the use of “graphic” here simply means illustrated. “Comic book” also implies funny, light, or easy reading, but many comics deal with weighty issues. The reality is that comic books and graphic novels are as varied in their subjects and presentations as traditional prose books. 

When readers engage with a comic or graphic novel, their reading is incredibly active. They are reading the words printed on the page while also analyzing the artist’s drawings, the color palette used, the layout of images on each page – all of which are deliberately chosen by the creators to tell the story. There is so much more information to take in than more traditional prose readers are used to that sometimes reading a comic or graphic novel can seem daunting or overwhelming. 


If you’d like to check out some good comics and graphic novels, here’s a short list of our staff recommendations:


“The Sixth Gun” by Cullen Bunn

“Blacksad” by Juan Diaz Canales

“The New Deal” by Jonathan Case

“Sandman” by Neil Gaiman

“Amulet” by Kazu Kibushi

“Maus” by Art Spiegelman (Pulitzer Prize winner in 1992)

“Nimona” by Noelle Stevenson

“Lumberjanes” by Noelle Stevenson et al.

“Doom Patrol” by Gerard Way