Our schedule will be a little different this week, as we’re joining in with Armchair BEA for the next few days. For anyone wondering about upcoming books, you can always check what we’re reading in the sidebar see a list of titles in the Goodreads group. If this is your first time visiting The Socratic Salon—welcome! We’re a group blog focused on conversation and bookish interaction. If you want to know more about us and what we do, you can check out our welcome post.
Part of Armchair BEA is a focus on specific bookish topics and today it’s all about Visual Expressions.
There are so many ways to tell stories. Whether it’s comic books, graphic novels, visual novels, webcomics, etc, there are quite a lot of other mediums to tell a story. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just words and use other ways to experience a story.
I’ll admit that I was never into comics or graphic novels as a kid, while I find them quite enjoyable and often powerful now, but the price. How do y’all justify the cost of graphic novels when you can’t get them at the library? I just read them way too fast to justify what they cost.
When I was a kid comics weren’t an option. Small town = No comic book store. Once in a while my Grandma would buy me an Archie digest at the checkout of our little grocery store. I gobbled those up. I also remember stacks of comic books at the house of a family friend. During an attempt to read them I was told “Comics aren’t for GIRLS.” (That’s a whole ‘nother topic, grrr.)
I don’t buy a lot of books, other than graphic novels. I don’t mind blowing my entire book buying budget on them. Other books can be acquired a lot of different ways, including from the public library, Little Free Libraries, and used book stores. Graphic novels demand purchase. At full price. I don’t even care.
They’re definitely something I need to try before I buy, but I do see them more as pieces of art and can justify how expensive they are when I look at them that way. One of my favorites, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg, is this absolutely gorgeous oversized hardback…and it’s nearly impossible to describe how pretty this thing is. You could almost pull any page from it and frame it.
I struggle with the price as well; there’s only so much room in my budget, which already has very little wiggle room. That’s been a big factor in my reluctance to pick up comics and graphic novels. The library has been a huge boost. If I don’t have an opportunity to try before buying, I find it easier to take a chance purchasing individual issues of comics (smaller amounts of money stretched out over a longer period of time, can give up on a series at any time) rather than invest in a graphic novel. I’m also trying out a subscription to Scribd right now.
My two favorites are seemingly polar opposites of one another Maus by Art Speigelman and The Walking Dead, what’s interesting is when you get down and dirty with them they are ultimately about the same thing, the nature of evil and man’s inhumanity against man (or mouse).
Picking a favorite is so hard but Maus is right up there. The Saga series is a recent favorite. And in future favorites I’m super excited to get my hands on Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and OMG did you know that Allie Brosh has a new book coming out?? (Fainting!)
I didn’t even think about Allie Brosh when writing this post. Love her!
Do any of you have favorite novels that rely heavily on images or visual layout?
Haruki Murakami’s The Strange Library. Everything about this short story is visually interesting: The way the book opens, the typesetting, the numerous full-page color illustrations that support the story.
I know visual expression is the norm with children’s books for the younger crowd, but the past couple of years I’ve been completely in awe by many of the wordless picture books out there. No text at all; the illustrations are all you get. It makes for a very personal, often powerful reading experience. It may seem odd to call it a “reading” experience when there is no text whatsoever, but at the same time, that’s exactly what it feels like. My favorite examples are Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole and Leaf by Stephen Michael King.
Wordless children’s books fascinate me, even if I couldn’t get The Girl into them.
When I’m working at the bookstore I find myself drawn to the children’s area. The art in some of those books is simply magnetic. I don’t remember anything being quite that beautiful back in my day. I have to get my fill there because my own children won’t let me read to them anymore. Jerks.
How about you, readers? Are there graphic novels you’re dying to discuss? Have you had much opportunity to delve into the world of graphic novels and comic books?