Graphic Novels

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Have I slipped into the twilight zone?

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Paul Whybrow

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Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I'm currently reading Pride of Baghdad, written by Brian K Vaughan and with artwork by Niko Henrichon. It's a thought-provoking story about freedom and oppression, using the device of having a pride of lions escape from Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Inspired by a true story, it's received lavish praise which it thoroughly deserves.

Initially, I discounted graphic novels as being glorified comics. Then, I noticed that the film The Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks, was based on a graphic novel. I enjoyed reading it and saw how the moody, gloomy artwork inspired the noir look of the movie. This made sense, as film-makers have long used storyboards to lay out the plot in a visual form.

I've gone on to read many more graphic novels. I tend to avoid superheroes in lurex bodysuits, though the Brian K Vaughan's anarchic Runaways gang are fun—imagine having supervillains for parents, who neglected you and whose evil plans you tried to thwart.

Instead, I look for graphic novels telling tales of real life. Will Eisner, Harvey Pekar, Alison Bechdel, Robert Crumb, his wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Daniel Clowes all have something to say about the human condition. In the fantasy genre, I loved Krampus: The Yule Lord, by Brom, which admittedly is more prose than pictures, but the artwork is astonishing and who could resist a story where Father Christmas is the villain?

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From Hypothetical Quandary, about Harvey Pekar, as drawn by his friend Robert Crumb.

I've just requested The Arab of the Future by Riad Satouff from my local library, which might help explain the political turmoil of the Arab world to me better than any news report. Graphic novels can be effective in tackling politics, as the stunning Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, showed about Iran during the Islamic revolution.

Literary classics have been turned into graphic novels too: I recently read Poe's short story The Fall of the House of Usher and I liked the graphic novel version of Jane Eyre.

Do any of you read graphic novels? Any suggestions of what to read next?
 
I think I have some stored in the garage, in French, given me by my [parents. Super, if a bit dark. I must look them out. Shaka Zulu, Perseus and one or two others I can't recall.
I just looked to see if I could spot them on ebay. Nah, but there are some stunning graphic novels on there. My brother used to have Tarzan in a graphic novel. The version that stuck close to the original, beginning with his parents marooning and subsequent deaths.

This one
 
I'm quite a fan in theory, but don't read them in practice any more. When I lived in Switzerland, I bought loads of them to help me learn French: all the usual suspects (Tintin, Asterix, etc) together with more modern, darker ones that you'd never see over here. The classics always remained my favourites though, not least the Blake and Mortimer series -- written by Jacobs, who was a contemporary of Herge, but strangely and unfairly under-appreciated in the Anglophone world.

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My love affair with Steve Ditko and his 60s Spider-man and Doctor Strange is legendary. I also go back often to Gaiman's Sandman.

Recently I have read and enjoyed Y The Last Man, Saga (ongoing), The Walking Dead for about 100 issues, Brubaker's Gotham Central & Criminal as well as his superhero stuff (I have Velvet and Fade Out awaiting) - Preacher was a good laugh although unlikely to re-read. Moore's V for Vendetta is still a favourite and I like the film too! Oh and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, of course.

Loved Tintin as a kid and I'm now tempted get hold of Blake & Mortimer although would prefer a great big omnibus sized chink.
 
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It's good to be back...

Have I slipped into the twilight zone?

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