On their own, both are potent tools of expression. Fused together they become something sublime and arguably much more powerful.
One part visual art. One part literary art.
I am talking about the beautifully subversive hybrid known as the comic book or – more politely put – the graphic novel. Although graphic narrative has been around a long time and is well established as a valid form of storytelling, it has never fully shaken off the perception of being just for kids. This has detracted from the fact that comics are at their core a truly unique medium.
From the outside looking in, people who don’t read comic books could easily draw the conclusion that graphic novels are only about puerile spandex wearing superheroes fighting similarly clad – and equally puerile – super villains. They would only be about a quarter right. Comic books like cinema or literature span numerous genres and sub genres. In the recent past the form has explored a myriad of big and complex ideas. For example, Alan Moore’s rebellious V for Vendetta and Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer winning holocaust allegory Maus or even Frank Miller’s visceral The Dark Knight Returns.
Graphic novels can be and are about anything. More currently, writers and artists have increasingly continued to push the envelope on what comics can do. To name a few, check out Alison Bechdel’s family memoir Fun Home; Garth Ennis’ religiously irreverent epic Preacher and Grant Morrison’s psychedelically anarchic The Invisibles.
Under the GRA (Graphic Novel) category, Westminster Libraries stock all the above titles and a great deal more.
For the last few years we have worked closely with comic book retailer Gosh! to make Westminster Libraries’ graphic novel collection arguably the best in London libraries.
Do you agree? Come and take a look. And look out for a future post about a forthcoming Mail Art call and exhibition.