47 Replies Latest reply on 7-Dec-2017 8:04 PM by dianamali

    What is a Comic?

    teachontario.team

      Mention a title that you’ve seen or heard about that you aren’t too sure whether or not it “counts” as a comic or graphic novel. Click to add the category Discussions: What is a comic? to your thread. And be sure to read and comment on others' contributions to this discussion.

      Is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series a graphic novel? What about the Tank and Fizz series? Or Frankie Pickle? Where do the comics from The New Yorker fit in? How do comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes compare? Let’s talk!

      • Reply
        • Re: What is a Comic?
          dianamali

          Sometimes I use the term "hybrid" because certain books really are a combination of two different styles.

          It can make it challenging when trying to decide where to shelve things. (Library problems!)

          Can you think of series that you'd definitely say were graphic novels vs hybrids vs other terms?

           

          Diana

            • Re: What is a Comic?
              mulcasterm

              What I find interesting in the GN and "hybrid" world is the Big Nate series...some of them I consider to be graphic novels - as they are all in comic form. However, there are others that I would consider more of a hybrid novel similar to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series as they are a blend of text and comic. And what about Captain Underpants? Hybrid as well? Hmmm... I must admit I am most comfortable reading these types of hybrid texts - probably because they are heavily text anchored. The Captain Underpants series also rely heavily on the comics to make you understand the text. And what about the spin off series - Super Diaper Baby and Dog Man? I think it's really interesting how these authors are crossing over! Will this become more popular as we go on?

                • Re: What is a Comic?
                  mulcasterm

                  I think what really makes me uncomfortable about reading graphic novels is that I find reading experience to overwhelming. There is simply too much going on! (that's why I prefer a bit more text to anchor myself) My mind and eyes want to go everywhere. However, then again - couldn't we say the same for almost everything? Anything can be overwhelming the first time we try it until we get used to it. I find this reflection on my personal reading preferences interesting and wonder how my students think....(I think this will be addressed in the next few questions)

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                  • Re: What is a Comic?
                    dianamali

                    Maybe this can be a mini-project for someone ... establishing a bit of a continuum, as some titles rely on the comic/graphic elements as part of the story more than others. That reminds me of that huge book ... Hugo Cabret, is that part of the title? ... that switches from pure text to sections with just illustrations telling the story. I should have included that in the resource list (or make a list of "hybrids", especially for people with "comics anxiety" to ease their way in). We can always make it as a whole group, if desired.

                     

                    Melanie, how do you react to wordless comics? Is the temptation to look everywhere at once there?

                     

                    Diana

                • Re: What is a Comic?

                  I went back to definitions to think about how to categorise comics vs. graphic novels. 

                   

                  GET GRAPHIC: The World In Words and Pictures : Graphic novels are similar to comic books because they use sequential art to tell a story. Unlike comic books, graphic novels are generally stand-alone stories with more complex plots. Collections of short stories that have been previously published as individual comic books are also considered graphic novels.

                  I did not categorise Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a graphic novel at first because my impression was that the 'cartoons' inserted were more like illustrations than 'sequential art' used to tell the story.  But I just borrowed one from my kids and I have changed my mind.  .You HAVE to read the 'cartoons' inserted to make sense of the novel.  They don't just illustrate the text, they are an essential part of the narrative.
                  Calvin and Hobbes?  For that one I went to this definition to see if one of the Treasuries could be considered a novel:

                  www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/novel

                  Definition of novel. 1 : an invented prose narrative that is usually long and complex and deals especially with human experience through a usually connected sequence of events.

                   

                  I think that each of the cartoons is connected.  In reading a collection we see themes and relationships develop over time.  I could argue that Calvin and Hobbes collections are a graphic novel!

                   

                  I could write more but I have to go!  One question - is there a timeline for the activities?  I couldn't find one.

                   

                  Cathy

                    • Re: What is a Comic?
                      dianamali

                      Hi Cathy,

                       

                      I love how you methodically approached the question by anchoring back to the definitions.

                      I agree with you that the comics portions of Diary of a Wimpy Kid are key to the story, but I haven't switched them in my school library to the graphic novel section and probably won't. (I have a separate section for GNs in my library, which itself could be controversial. One issue at a time, though, so back to the Wimpy Kid.) I feel like there's more text than graphics, so I'd consider it a hybrid. Have you read Frankie Pickle or Tank and Fizz?

                       

                      As for timelines, the great thing about this course is that you go at your own pace. Although the original intent was to spend about two weeks on the four inquiry questions, (November 22 - December 2) the asynchronistic nature of the presentation means that participants can join in at any time and choose the questions they wish to investigate. If you wish to take more time to process or digest, you are welcome to do so. Having said that, you can also sprint ahead to Question 2 if you determine that you've mined this portion to your satisfaction.

                       

                      Diana

                        • Re: What is a Comic?

                          I haven't read Frankie Pickle or Tank and Fizz yet but I will look them up!  My whole family weighed in on the debate as we drove to our lunch date.  They all decided that although they agreed with me that Calvin and Hobbes could technically be classed as a graphic novel, they would put it in the comic category as each strip is designed to be a stand alone.  We've agreed that there is a continuum with novels on one end and graphic novels on the other.  You can have some that are in between - you've called them hybrids.  I am glad there is so much diversity and that authors seem to have a greater sense of freedom in playing with the 'lines' that really only exist when we feel we have to classify or sort books into different shelves.

                           

                          Thanks for the timeline info!

                           

                          Cathy

                            • Re: What is a Comic?
                              dianamali

                              Cathy, why am I tempted to begin all my replies to your posts with "I love how ..."?

                               

                              Getting family consensus is quite the achievement. Do you think your students, especially the ones undertaking that comic making project with you, will agree?

                               

                              I do like the diversity and variety. My boomerang question: if you were teaching about comics to students, would you avoid or include the hybrids? I know that my primary and junior division classes spend quite a bit of time discussing the features of fiction and non-fiction text - does this mixing of mediums (because of course comics / graphic texts can be fiction and/or non-fiction) confuse students? For instance, my kindergarten students are exploring "story books" vs "information books" - I know "Adventures in Ancient China" by Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin contains both - how do I convey this while still trying to clarify differences?

                               

                              Diana

                        • Re: What is a Comic?
                          marianne.mclaughlin@peelsb.com

                          Good Evening,

                          What does everyone think about the Geronimo and Thea Stilton books?  At first I was very quick to categorize them as novels that use sounds effects, graphic weight, figures and text.  As I looked deeper into the books I noticed that pictures and figures were part of the story and were placed in an effort to draw the reader's eye away from the text.  I want to say that they are graphic novels or hybrids. 

                          Marianne

                            • Re: What is a Comic?
                              bethany

                              I've always wondered about the categorization of novel, particularity ones with text and illustrations. If you go to a book store like Chapters/Indigo, they have their own category system. in the 6yrs-8yrs novel area, you have Geronimo Stilton in general chapter books, but then you have Captain Underpants in graphic novels.

                               

                              My own impressions of most Geronimo Stilton books is that the illustrations just add flavour, but aren't necessary to the story.  I'd be tempted to label them as a hybrid? I can imagine reading Geronimo without seeing the pictures, but I wouldn't be able to read Bones the same way.

                               

                              It's hard to say!

                               

                              Bethany

                              • Re: What is a Comic?
                                dianamali

                                Great observation about where Chapters/Indigo places certain books. Anyone popping by their local store in the near future? Maybe someone could ask an employee about how they make that distinction? Is it market driven, i.e. do Captain Underpants readers search in the graphic novel area? Does it sell more in a certain section?

                                 

                                I won't chime in with my opinion yet about Geronimo Stilton books, except to say thanks Bethany and Marianne for continuing the conversation along!

                                 

                                Diana

                                • Re: What is a Comic?
                                  jennmacbrown

                                  I wonder if the categorization has to do with the historical evolution of the creation of the text? I don't know the answer but it would be interesting to research a bit.

                                   

                                  I am not a Geronimo fan at all.  I have them only because my students request them and they appeal to many ages.  I think they are horribly challenging to read.  The visuals are overwhelming, not at all organized like a graphic novel in my mind, the weird play on "mouse" words makes it super challenging for some readers, the fantasy and historical fiction crossovers confuse those readers without the comprehension sophistication to process all of that content.  Many of our ELLs struggle to grasp the nuances of the language used in these books yet many teachers devalue them as "too easy". They may be juvenile but they are far far from "easy". I have the "novels" and the "graphic novel" versions to appeal to students requests but I could give them up easily.

                                • Re: What is a Comic?
                                  leah.kearney

                                  Hi everyone, thanks for the great conversations. I enjoyed reading the thread and thinking about the question posed. I get stuck in the naming of things. I just finished Are You My Mother (A Comic Drama) by Alison Bechdel and it is clearly a graphic novel, although it is called A Comic Drama, but moreso it is a heart-breaking work about love, acceptance, belonging and identity. I found it hard to read because the themes were so poignant but the format it is presented in (graphic novel) seems to position it as though you should be able to read it as you would read a comic but you actually can't because you need time to digest it and the sophisticated themes. I hope I am making sense...

                                  Can be interpreted as dismissive when we begin to categorize, as it is simply good writing and would stand alone with or without the art, even though the art is incredible and adds to the story. So, I was wondering about how it must feel for authors of graphic novels to be described as such as opposed to just authors.

                                    • Re: What is a Comic?
                                      dianamali

                                      Hi Leah,

                                       

                                      I looked up "Are You My Mother" (would you agree with the summary of the book found here ? Are You My Mother? (memoir) - Wikipedia )

                                       

                                      Words can be complicated, can't they?

                                      Comic implies humour, but some are quite serious. See Comic Synonyms, Comic Antonyms | Thesaurus.com

                                      Graphic is often coupled with the word "violence" but some graphic novels are quite tame. See Graphic Synonyms, Graphic Antonyms | Thesaurus.com

                                       

                                      In your reflection, you said:

                                      Leah Kearney wrote:

                                      I found it hard to read because the themes were so poignant but the format it is presented in (graphic novel) seems to position it as though you should be able to read it as you would read a comic but you actually can't because you need time to digest it and the sophisticated themes.

                                      What do you mean when you say "read it as you would read a comic"? In terms of speed? Or attention to detail?

                                       

                                      One of the books that is on the list of resources (under possibilities for Health Education) was recommended to me by both Tory Woolcott and Andrew Woodrow-Butcher ... "Take It as a Compliment" by M Stoian. It's about sexual assault and abuse. I'd be keen to have people read it and discuss how the graphic novel format works with the message. Hopefully people will explore it when we get to Question 4.

                                       

                                      You make a good point about how "genre-fying" certain texts might insinuate that they are "less than". Do people still scoff at others who only read romance, or science fiction? Is the same true for comics? How do we acknowledge the differences without lessening them compared to other literature? A separate point: in a graphic novel, can the writing go without the art? Would it still be as good if it was just in text? These kind of comparisons can be made when a text-only book is adapted into a graphic novel format, but what if the original work is a graphic novel? Can it be transformed into a text-only work and still maintain the same level of communication?

                                       

                                      Thanks for all the great fodder for thought Leah!

                                      Diana

                                        • Re: What is a Comic?
                                          leah.kearney

                                          Hi Diana, yes that summary of Are You My Mother is accurate. You understood my point exactly: I wouldn't expect to race through a Pinter novel but part of me thinks I will be able to fly through a graphic novel filled with whimsical drawings. Then the themes emerge and I am stopped in my tracks. The writing is supported and enhanced by the drawings so it's hard to separate the two.

                                          I think graphic novels have gone from being a novelty to a respected form of literature, but perhaps I am too optimistic.

                                          Great questions as always!

                                          L

                                      • Re: What is a Comic?
                                        jennmacbrown

                                        I am often struck by this debate.  Without devaluing the very passionate and knowledgeable comic & graphic novel "uber-fans" who understand the historical context and evolution of these are art forms, I shelve based on how to get books in the hands of my kids most effectively.  In some cases I blur the lines of genre to do this.  My comics and graphic novels are all together.  Right now I have two darling girls who come everyday and are redesigning this entire section based on their vision.  They are the most organized, meticulous librarians I know and they are so proud to maintain the section.

                                         

                                        I break the ultimate fan code and I mix all my "superhero" books on one display rack (yes - DC mixed with Marvel, easy readers with old school comics, mini-chapter books with the history of Superman).  This is less about defining the genre and more about appealing to my masses.

                                         

                                        I have noticed a trend that confuses me a bit.  Non-fiction texts written in graphic novel form to appeal to youthful readers. Some of them I totally get and enjoy like this one below. I appreciate the unique art style, certainly the message of female empowerment and story itself.

                                        nellie.jpg

                                        But others feel a little forced and like we are playing into an assumption the a change of text form will suddenly make curriculum content come to life.  I think the key for me is that we cannot assume that switching to a "graphic" version of content will automatically appeal to kids.  I think it devalues the art form of graphic text and underestimates the intelligence of our learners to engage with story/content in a meaningful way regardless of how we present it. 

                                        loxleysandthewarof1812.jpg

                                        Shelving and organizing this type of text also adds some confusion.  If I leave it as part of my GN collection only - none of my kids will bother to pick it up.  If I leave it in non-fiction staff and kids alike may not see it as a valuable source of information for inquiry. I need my serious "you will love this text" sales pitch on the go for the these ones.

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                                          • Re: What is a Comic?
                                            dianamali

                                            A cartoon version of Diane saying congrats

                                            You make some excellent points above!

                                             

                                            First of all, count your lucky stars that you have such dedicated library helpers. I had one who returned all through high school and part of university and one of the things he did was totally revamp the graphic novel section. It's a passion project for many students, I guess!

                                             

                                            The tricky part that I find with my superhero comics and titles is that not all superhero comics are suitable for all readers. My kindergarten students gravitate to anything with Superman, Ironman, Spiderman, or Batman on the cover, but I've had to try and steer them to titles featuring their favourite characters without the dark, complex themes and other aspects that make it a bit more of a mature read. Have you had any issues with students grabbing superhero comics without previewing them for themselves? I don't like or want to censor or limit what my students borrow (and this is reason # 12345 why we don't level books in the library, but that's a different debate for a different time) but I am sensitive to what parents might say ... this sounds like this section belongs with Question 2!

                                             

                                            I agree that for a while there, it was a HUGE trend to turn non-fiction curriculum topics into graphic novels "'Cuz kids love comics, right? So let's make this a comic and they'll love it!" There are some really awful examples out there. The reason why I didn't include "The Loxleys and Confederation" in the awful pile - in fact, I was part of the Canadian Children's Book Centre Review team that included it in our list of decent graphic novels, and I included it in the Resources list for Social Studies / History for this course - was because it did something that I hadn't seen in narratives about Confederation. It included a First Nations perspective. Yes, this is not a title that students are going to gravitate to naturally, but I see this as a useful non-fiction text for understanding the time period and issues in ways that traditional text books struggle. (I haven't read the War of 1812 title - is it really very "candy-coated medicine but poorly disguised"?)

                                             

                                            Diana

                                            • Re: What is a Comic?
                                              leah.kearney

                                              Hi Jennifer, great points about the "hiding" of content within format: "... playing into an assumption the a change of text form will suddenly make curriculum content come to life. I think the key for me is that we cannot assume that switching to a "graphic" version of content will automatically appeal to kids.  I think it devalues the art form of graphic text and underestimates the intelligence of our learners to engage with story/content in a meaningful way regardless of how we present it." I read and re-read your words because I have felt the same way over the years as I have looked at what is being marketed to youngsters. Making a story meaningful and powerful to readers means much more than simply putting it in comic form.The storytelling and illustrations have to be compelling to draw in readers who may not identify themselves as history-buffs. A great example of a historical period being explored in an artful, meaningful way is the March trilogy in which Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin chronicle the story of the U.S. Civil Rights movement in graphic novel form. If you haven't read the series, please check it out. In an interesting side note, John Lewis has often spoke of how reading the classic 1950s comic book, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story inspired him to pursue a life of public service and activism. When this type of thing is done well the impact it has is incredible. When it is done poorly...

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                                            • Re: What is a Comic?
                                              tinag

                                              Great conversation here! As I read everyone's posts I can't help think of Frank Serafini's work on the interplay between illustrations and text.  Particularly around the conversation about Wimpy Kid.  Serafini states that there is a symbiotic relationship between text and pictures..pictures can mirror what is written in text, add more information to the story that is not in the text or even contradict the information shared in the text.. ....because illustrations don't play a passive role in illustrated texts it is difficult to use the role of images as a criteria for determining something is a graphic novel or not.  Are all picture books graphic novels?  Are wordless picture books graphic novels?  I think the word novel is key here...Final thoughts...

                                              I don't think Frank Pickle or Wimpy Kid is a graphic novel....but the Invention of Hugo Cabret on the other hand....

                                              51VcEWaqKWL.jpg (353×500)

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                                                • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                  dianamali

                                                  Tina, you are so awesomely succinct!

                                                  (Can you mention or link to some of Frank Serafini's work, so everyone can refer to it?)

                                                  I love your provocative questions!

                                                  I know many people that would argue that all picture books are graphic novels, and wordless picture books especially so.

                                                  Andrew at Little Island Comics says that for him, the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems are comics and the pages are the panels.

                                                  So does length impact the definition more that the role of images?

                                                  Thank you for including that picture of the cover of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" - it's been a while since I've read it and I think I need to revisit it!

                                                   

                                                  Diana

                                                    • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                      tinag

                                                      Hi Diana,

                                                      I looked through my files hoping I might have a pdf to share. I also hunted on line...but basically, Frank Serafini talks about this in his 2004 text, Lessons in Comprension

                                                      This conversation has got me thinking about graphic texts, picture books.....reading strategies....LOVE IT! I have been a math head lately...great to get back to my roots!

                                                  • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                    jennmacbrown

                                                    So I had an interesting experience today that I thought worth sharing.  For the past two days I have attended our board's library vendor sale.  I am privileged financially as I am in a new school with a significant start up budget plus a generous principal.  But other than my non-fiction spending by biggest individual vendor bill was at The Beguiling on lots and lots of graphic novels and comics.  I have a section worth over $5000 to begin with so it was not an initial purchase.  I found I knew what texts my kids were in love with, where we lacked stock and which graphic novels moved me enough to want to read them.  It made me feel more confident in my knowledge base and ability to "categorize" as I shopped.  I got really excited by certain texts and recognized authors and illustrators I was familiar with and enjoyed.

                                                     

                                                    It did highlight that I still really lack an understanding of Manga and I relied heavily on the amazing staff for that component.  I also realized that years ago I would have assumed Manga was the only defining feature of graphic novels.  I now know differently, of course.

                                                     

                                                    It was a good day all around!

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                                                      • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                        dianamali

                                                        My biggest bill was also at The Beguiling / Little Island Comics from our recent board's vendor fair as well.

                                                        What were some of your special purchases? I wonder if we bought any of the same titles. One of my students was absolutely enthusiastic beyond measure for a graphic novel about Korean Cooking. (I take my students with me when we go book shopping for the school library. It's a tradition.) This student was so enamoured of this book that she approached strangers - thankfully, other TDSB teacher-librarians so it wasn't dangerous - and encouraged them to buy that title for their collections!

                                                         

                                                        Let's make sure that we do some manga reading together here during this course. I still depend on the advice of wonderful people at the Beguiling (because they know comics AND schools) even with having "expertise" in comics/manga. There is a great tool in the Resources section which actually teaches people how to read traditionally published manga (as in, from right to left - never call it backwards).

                                                         

                                                        Glad you had such a good time at the resource fair!

                                                        Diana

                                                      • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                        ctracy

                                                        Wow. There is so much to process from this thread. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the scope and breadth of knowledge and inquiry here. I'm intrigued by the responses and conversations being created by Cathy, Jennifer and others. in the end, this has highlighted how inexperienced I am in reading texts in this medium. I'm taking notes on titles to pick up and read. Thank you for exposing me to these!

                                                         

                                                        So, I'm going to take a risk here and ask a question: what about children's books by authors like Dr. Seuss, Shell Silverstein or David Shannon? Are these comics? Are they short stories? Are they short graphic novels? They use sequential art to tell a story...

                                                          • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                            dianamali

                                                            Christopher,

                                                             

                                                            We're all learning together. Glad you are finding this thread helpful. (Just wait until you get into some of the other ones!)

                                                             

                                                            I channeled some of the reactions that a few of my students might have to your question. I typed in Google "are dr. seuss books comics?" and I got some fascinating (although inconclusive) results. Turns out that Dr. Seuss made editorial, almost propaganda cartoons during the war. See a collection here: Amazon.com: Dr. Seuss - Comics & Graphic Novels: Books

                                                             

                                                            In this article, Dr. Seuss was grouped with comics, not because his books *were* comics, but because they both evoked less-than-respectful opinions from educators - https://books.google.ca/books?id=IjvHQsCn_pgC&pg=PA9&lpg=PA9&dq=are+dr+seuss+books+comics?&source=bl&ots=Zp79iNP1R5&sig=…

                                                            They both "provided a frivolity that was not appropriate for school".

                                                             

                                                            The Wikipedia article (yes, Wikipedia can be helpful with research, so long as it isn't the only source) had some interesting material. He began with comics and cartoons before writing children's books. His books seem to be classified as "books for beginning readers" or "picture books".

                                                             

                                                            So, based on this very preliminary investigation into your inquiry question, what do you think? Are Dr. Seuss books comics? short stories? short graphic novels? or other? (I'll save my opinion for later.)

                                                             

                                                            Anyone want to tackle Christopher's other queries? David Shannon? Shel Silverstein?

                                                             

                                                            Diana

                                                          • Re: What is a Comic?

                                                            Wow. I too am overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the discussions.


                                                            What I noticed about David Shannon, Shel Silverstein and Dr Seuss is that they all are both the writer and the illustrator. So while I have always thought of them as picture books, I am not so sure now. The way the pictures and words work together is what makes the reading so memorable. I don't always find that to be true:  so, going back to an earlier part of this discussion and the Tank and Fizz books, to me they are illustrated novels. The illustrations add something, but I didn't need them to follow the story. In David Shannon's books, the words mean nothing without the illustrations. Can you imagine a book with the word NO on every page and nothing else? Wouldn't work!  As an adult, I don't need the pictures in Dr Seuss or Shel Silverstein, but I can't imagine them appealing to kids without them.

                                                             

                                                             

                                                            I would like to add Melanie Watt and Anthony Browne to the list, the words need the pictures; the pictures need the words. So I suggest that makes them graphic stories (novel implying something longer).

                                                              • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                leah.kearney

                                                                Hi Helen, thanks for tackling this one. Your point about Melanie Watt and Anthony Browne is well-taken. The relationship between illustrations and text is integral. How do they connect to each other and how do they combine to support the reader's understanding?

                                                                L

                                                                  • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                    dianamali

                                                                    Leah, Helen, and everyone,

                                                                     

                                                                    I think we should make a Tri-Venn diagram, comparing comics, graphic novels, and picture books! This symbiotic relationship between pictures and words - does it differ from a picture book to a comic/graphic novel? If so, how? If not, then why do picture books have a category of their own?

                                                                     

                                                                    As you've seen from the announcement, I will be unavailable for the next three days ... for good reasons - I'll be presenting at the Learning Forward conference in Vancouver, British Columbia (on Passion Based Communities). It doesn't mean the conversation has to stop - Leah will hold the fort and will do (and does) a phenomenal job. See you December 9!

                                                                     

                                                                    DiBonVoyage - Copy.png

                                                                • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                  lefe34

                                                                  Hi gang,

                                                                   

                                                                  I've been enjoying reading everyone's postings. I haven't had too many experiences with using many of these types of texts, partially why I'm taking this course. In a lot of the high schools that I've worked with, most teachers would use a comic version of a traditional canon text, like Macbeth. One novel that I used that was a big hit with my kids was the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The author is a big fan of graphics and comics and uses them throughout the chapters. I wasn't sure if I would include this in a traditional graphic or comic genre.

                                                                   

                                                                  Mike

                                                                    • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                      dianamali

                                                                      Hi Mike,

                                                                       

                                                                      I find it interesting that teachers would be comfortable with using a comic version of a traditional canon text, but (and correct me if I'm not inferring in the right direction) they'd be less inclined to include a text that originally is in graphic novel form. Why is that? Not all adaptations are created equally and I find that some of the Shakespeare comic versions are quite ... well, dreadful. The illustrations don't enhance or enrich the text like it could, which is odd considering that they are plays and are ripe for visual interpretation.

                                                                       

                                                                      What do other people think of Mike's query? Is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian a graphic novel, hybrid, or something else?

                                                                      Diana

                                                                        • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                          leah.kearney

                                                                          Hi everyone, it has been a while since I enjoyed Sherman Alexie's work but I think I would describe it as a hybrid. The illustrations are integral to the book but isn't the format that of a novel with additional comic-like drawings? I may be mis-remembering this...

                                                                          L

                                                                      • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                        aking

                                                                        Jumping in late (as usual) but I've often heard that Shaun Tan's The Arrival The Arrival by Shaun Tan — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists is often shelved as a graphic novel....same with Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt, etc. etc.  So are picture book/graphic novels a crossover genre or are authors and illustrators just playing with format?  What if we just leave them where they are and students miss them because they don't want to go to the picture book section?  Why does it matter?

                                                                          • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                            dianamali

                                                                            That's a great question, Alanna - why does it matter what it's called or where you find it?

                                                                             

                                                                            (By the way, I have Shaun Tan's "The Arrival" and I have it in my graphic novel section.)

                                                                             

                                                                            Your earlier sentence may suggest a possible reason: "they don't want to go to the picture book section".

                                                                            What other reasons might there be?

                                                                              • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                aking

                                                                                Well, in a word, censorship, I suppose.  The students who rely on the picture books in my school like also like the subject matter (and so do the teachers).  I think I might be able to 'trick' a student into reading a non-verbal graphic like Owly, Corgi or Robot Dreams by putting it in picture books.  I also might be able to trick graphic novel-loving students into looking at a picture book but generally they like the mature subject matter.  I know other libraries that are still shelving all graphic novels by Dewey...maybe 821? Their claim is that it's for easier shelving.

                                                                            • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                              derrick.schellenberg

                                                                              Hi everyone,

                                                                               

                                                                              An interesting discussion, with the provocative idea of coming up with texts that are not easily labelled as one thing or another.

                                                                               

                                                                              To me a comic combines text and images, with both features often occupying the same panel, and, while there may be some pages where a single image (with text) dominates the page, most comics have multi-panel pages where the reader's job is to find the chronological progression (meaning how they are supposed to navigate through the panels, which is going to connect to time).

                                                                               

                                                                              A picture book often takes the challenge of figuring out where to start and how to navigate through the page away by having a single image on each page and you simply move from page to page to progress chronologically through the story.

                                                                               

                                                                              In terms of the difference between comic and graphic novel, my gross oversimplification would be that a graphic novel (for Marvel or DC) is a series of comics that have been packaged together because they are all related to the same story arc, however, with texts like Persepolis and Maus, perhaps you have true graphic novels, as they are meant to be a single text, and not 10 or 20 comics that can be read individually.

                                                                               

                                                                              In terms of texts that may be in the "gray" area between picture books, comics, and graphic novels, I wonder how people would classify Patrick Ness' A Monster Calls (an upcoming movie with Liam Neeson lending his voice to the monster) or one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, with his texts, The Sleeper and the Spindle, Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, or his spin on Hansel and Gretel. I wonder what Gaiman's take would be on these different types of texts, as he has certainly dabbled in all three (picture book/comic/graphic novel), as well as the novel form.

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                                                                                • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                  leah.kearney

                                                                                  Hi Derrick, the lines are blurry, aren't they? I loved A Monster Calls (and saw the trailer last week and it looks to be good) but to me it is more a picture book than a graphic novel. Although, It seems that the more of these discussions we have, the less certain I become...

                                                                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                                    • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                      derrick.schellenberg

                                                                                      I agree with you, Leah. It does seem to be more of a picture book. With so much text perhaps it could be a picture book that is also a novel or a novella.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      I thought it was interesting how people noted that students give graphic novels or comics more "cred" than picture books, which seem to be associated with younger, elementary readers. Lots of high school kids (and adults) I know enjoy reading comics and graphic novels, but would be unlikely to be seen picking up anything seeming to be a picture book, but perhaps the lines are blurring so all types of texts can be appreciated by all ages of readers.

                                                                                  • Re: What is a Comic?

                                                                                    'Comic' is related to comedy, to clowing, to political satire, to using the ability to laugh at ourselves as the primal route to objective (human) thinking.  I think the first comic strip was, maybe, the phaistos disk.  Graffiti, political satire drawings, these types of comics have always been with humanity.  The modern comic (pictures, speech bubbles, the odd scene heading or narration box) blossomed with the 'hero saga' comic books (that are actually little magazine-type publications) of DC and Marvel.  THis brought 'comics' out of politcal satire and into the realm of expressing humanity's long-dormant need for archetypal stories as a spiritual frame of reference for our own mundane experience.  Hollywood is currently raking it in.   Recently, this 'comic book' umbrella has given birth to: manga; graphic novels (anything with a 'spine' on high quality cardstock paper); video games; and hybrids, mostly aimed at kids, the Bone series being the only example I've read. I think the most relevant to teachers is this 'hybrid' category.  I'm going to bookmark this thread because you folks know so much more about this field of publication!  How many times have we seen kids in Grade 4 & 5 eschew the harder 'novel' in favour of an 'easy read'?  How many times have we wondered what the heck the story is even about, because as adults we just don't read them?  Are these presenting a fun gateway to true novel reading, or are they the ringing the deathknell of literacy?    If it's the latter, is it okay as long this is the 'new' route to providing the 'reader' with an experience of objective thinking, political discourse, or a psycho-spiritual reference for the mundane life?    

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                                                                                      • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                        meghant

                                                                                        Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics, Squirrel Girl, Romeo &/or Juliet) gave a fantastic keynote speech at TCAF 2016, outlining his argument that comics are not only one of the earliest forms of written communication, but are also language's most-developed state (thus far).  You can listen to it here: 13 Panels from TCAF in audio and the heartbreaking Doug Wright Awards — The Beat

                                                                                        I think it's hyperbolic to worry about the death knell of literacy.  Comics (etc) are simply a different form of reading - similar to the range of motion-based storytelling: 'film' can mean feature length movies, tv serials, documentaries, shorts, etc ... just like 'reading' can be short stories, novels, non-sequential non-fic, biography, etc.  If we think of comics solely as a way to scaffold kids into 'real books' - and I'm certainly not saying they can't or shouldn't be used that way! - we are missing out of some of their unique strengths and joys. 

                                                                                        A great resource for the comics-as-literature argument is This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics as Literature by Rocco Versaci — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists ... whether it's an argument you are having with yourself or someone else, Versaci's essays lay it out very effectively.

                                                                                          • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                            dianamali

                                                                                            I'm so sorry meghant that I didn't reply to this comment earlier (as in, 9 months earlier!), even if it is just to give out some Ryan North love (my daughter is a HUGE fan of his work, especially Squirrel Girl). I'm also nodding vigorously at the "comics are language's most-developed state" and "comics are simply a different form of reading". Here's a photo of my girl wearing her Squirrel Girl cosplay:

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                                                                                        • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                          meghant

                                                                                          What is a comic?  What is a graphic novel?

                                                                                          The problem all goes back to the original (American) use of the words and the form.  'Comics' means 'the funny papers' - even though comic strips were never all comedy - dramatic strips were part of the landscape from the start.  I usually dislike the term 'Graphic Novel' because it's equally misleading (lots of them are non-fiction for pity's sake!) and it sounds so ... snobby.  But given that it was coined by WILL freaking EISNER I think we have to let it ride.  'Sequential art' doesn't capture single panel works like The Far Side, but does catch animation, which is clearly NOT comics.  So the problem is really The English Language.

                                                                                          I personally have a very broad definition of comics. Strips, floppies, trades, bricks, woodcut novels ... they are all comics to me.

                                                                                          Things I find hard to define are books like Brian Selznik's The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  I sometimes call it an illustration novel but that doesn't really work either. 

                                                                                          • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                            shahamilton

                                                                                            When I was originally thinking of the difference between graphic novel and comic, my impulse was to think that a comic was shorter, a graphic novel takes more time to unfold. What I discovered from the examples in this module, and some supplemental reading was in fact, the opposite. I was thinking of comics of single strips, rather than as volumes, or recurring moments that can illustrate themes and ideas as the comic re-appears or comes out with a new volume. A graphic novel, though certainly longer in form than a peanuts comic, contains all of the information within in.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            My question is whether or not Zines are comics or graphic novels. I know that they are self-produced, and often created in the same format. I think their definition would most likely depend on the content, and whether or not they are issues or stand alone productions.

                                                                                              • Re: What is a Comic?
                                                                                                dianamali

                                                                                                Hi Shannon,

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                I'm glad that this module (and some extra reading - kudos to you for squeezing that in as well as this reading during this busy time of year) has resulted in a re-examination of your definition of comics.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                I want to check what your definition of 'zine is before I answer. I have a vested interest because my husband creates his own zine. Yes, they are self-produced but (spoiler) his zine is for a specific RPG and wouldn't classify as a comic. However, I've seen some fabulous comic/ graphic novel 'zines. I'll have to go directly to the source to get that answer.

                                                                                                 

                                                                                                Diana