Graphic Novels

What do you think of graphic novels? After a semester of reading too much a lot, I decided I needed a relaxing way to get back into reading for fun. What better way to do it than through pictures? (The difference in the amount of text is quite significant. I zip through graphic novels!)

I came across Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi at my local library. It’s a good thing I got the second book too, because I whizzed through the first one! The books chronicle Satrapi’s childhood and adolescence during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It’s a good read so far, and I especially like it because I don’t know much about Iran or the Islamic Revolution, and this is a good way to ease myself into being educated on the topic.

The first encounter I had with a graphic novel (that actually peaked my interest — I used to think graphic novels were full of mundane, silly things!) was in a class a few years ago, when I read a few excerpts of Maus by Art Spiegelman. I still haven’t gotten into reading the whole thing, but I’d like to at some point in my life. The book is about Spiegelman’s father and his experience as a Jewish Holocaust survivor. Spiegelman also makes very good use of the graphic novel format, because he depicts people as animals (can you imagine how that would look in a book? “My father (a mouse) went to the store …”). Spiegelman drew Jews as mice, Germans as cats, and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. I’m pretty sure we analyzed this in my class … probably something about how humans are actually very bestial creatures, since we’re always at war with each other.

 The only other graphic novel that I can remember reading is Vietnamerica by GB Tran. This graphic novel also tells the story of a family during a time of war. Tran was born in America, after the rest of his family had moved there as refugees during the Vietnam War. What I liked about the book was that it took a “historical event” from a faraway place, and connected it to more universal themes (like identity), through Tran’s experiences as a young Vietnamese-American child of immigrant parents. I also liked how Tran put the words Vietnam and America together. Fancy tricks like that get me every time!

So clearly there is a trend in the graphic novels that I choose to read. They’ve all been memoirs (I frequently frequent the biography section of the local library) detailing events that have historically been very difficult to talk about. Somehow, the cute drawings and personal accounts and humour (these books are so ironically funny!) make it okay.

Does anyone else read graphic novels? Recommendations would be nice!

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