30 May 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010-19: Getting Graphic

This week's Weekly Geek task relates to graphic novels:
    Do you read graphic novels or memoirs? Who are your favorite authors? Which books do you recommend? 
    If you haven't read any, why not? 
    Some people have the impression that graphic novels are glorified comic books, are unsophisticated or don't qualify as "serious" literature. What do you think? If you track your book numbers, do you count a graphic novel as a book read?

When I was a child I belonged to the comic book brigade in our town. We stored our comic books in boxes under our beds and traded them with each other. My favourites were Classics, which were graphic versions of novels like The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Mask, Treasure Island etc. But for me they were never really substitutes for "real" books.

[I'm not sure that I understand the inference in the question that graphic novels and memoirs are the same thing. To me a memoir is the equivalent of an autobiography, not a graphic novel at all.]

Over the years my attitude to graphic novels has remained more or less the same - they are no substitute for the "real thing". In essence they often seem to me to be a watered down version of the story, without any of the descriptive text and character development that characterises a real novel. I do object too to the graphic novels that ride on the coat-tails of famous authors.

I really don't understand for example the condoning of the production of "graphic novels" based on Agatha Christie titles. I've written about that a couple of times on this blog.

For example in a post titled Read an Agatha Christie in under an hour I wrote
    Well, I hope nobody is kidding themselves that these comics, a total of 83 titles, are going to turn anybody into a reader of the Agatha Christie classics! 
    The connection between this "graphic novel" and the original novel is just the main elements of the story. There is no suspense, and really none of what attracted readers to Agatha Christie's books. 
    Pardon the cynic in me who sees them as part of a money-making, marketing exercise. On the back of the copy of SECRET OF CHIMNEYS which I borrowed from my local library the reader is encourage to "collect all of the new Agatha Christie adventures, adapted by some of the world's most original comic book artists".
And again, a year later, talking about the graphic version of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, I wrote
    Please don't give these to young people thinking you are hooking them on Agatha Christie. They will be greatly disappointed when they discover the "real books" require much greater levels of literacy and concentration.
So no, I wouldn't count a graphic novel on my total of "books read" for the year, just as I wouldn't count the viewing of a TV adaptation. They are at best interpretations of the original, at worst an attempt to make money by riding on the coat-tails of someone else's intellectual property.

I am aware that there are such things as "original" graphic novels that do not appear in any other format. But my interest in trying to read them is zilch.


Charmaine Clancy said...

I hate reading memoirs, but do like graphic novels (sometimes). My kids love them and do like to read the novel as well as the graphic novel. My 12yr. old reads the Agatha Christie graphic novels and now does want to read Agatha Christie - so sometimes it works.

One great novel out is Malice, it's a novel with intermittent graphic novel parts - you can see a review on the kids' blog 'Paper Dolls':


Bernadette said...

The first book mentioned in the original post at weekly geeks is a graphic memoir (I only know because I looked it up as I too was confused by the correlation between the two things). It looked perfectly hideous to me but then it would as I'm not a graphic novel reader myself.

I must admit I hadn't realised there was such a large number of graphic adaptations of existing stuff - to me that's like cheating.

Maxine Clarke said...

Me too- it is quite a well known trick nowadays for boy's fiction - eg the Alex Rider and "Young James Bond" series, to try to "encourage them to read"...hmm.......

gautami tripathy said...

My nephew did start with a couple of Graphic versions of Agatha Christie novels. However, now he is hooked to the real ones and has dipped into my collection as I own most of her works. I am mighty pleased that something brought him to the book version.

Erotic Horizon said...

You know when I saw this weeks topic my thoughts turned to you - it was through your post that my kidlet started the GN - Christie books

He is now reading the Novel - slowly, but making his way through one of them...

As GT said - I am also pleased that he has found his way to the novels, because I didn't think he ever would..



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