Graphic novels

Boys reading graphic novels.

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Graphic novels are a long-form type of comic. Find out how to use them to engage readers and develop visual literacy skills. Discover review sites, suppliers, and ideas for displaying and managing them in your class or school library.
  • What are graphic novels

    In her Create Readers blog post 'Graphic novels' is not comics’, Comic Creator Indira Neville writes:

    The most important thing to say up front is that while all graphic novels are comics, not all comics are graphic novels. Graphic novels are a particular type of comic. It goes like this...
    Comics is the medium (like ‘poetry’ or ‘film’ is a medium).
    A comic is any work in the comics medium regardless of genre, length, or format (like ‘a poem’ or ‘a film’).
    A graphic novel is long-form work of fiction in the comics medium (like an ‘ode’ or a ‘feature film’).
    'Graphic novels' is not comics

    Published in book format, they can be fiction or non-fiction, and usually tell a stand-alone story with a complex plot. Graphic novels like Watchmen bring together an episodic series.

    The term 'graphic novel' was coined by Will Eisner to distinguish his book A Contract with God (1978) from collections of newspaper comic strips. He described graphic novels as consisting of 'sequential art' — a series of illustrations which, when viewed in order, tell a story. Will Eisner is seen as the founder of graphic novels, and the industry award is named in his honour.

    Although today’s graphic novels are a recent phenomenon, this basic way of storytelling has been used in various forms for centuries — early cave drawings, hieroglyphics, and medieval tapestries like the famous Bayeux Tapestry can be thought of as stories told in pictures.
    — Jeff Smith, creator of Bone

    Manga

    Manga, or 'whimsical drawings' if literally translated, are Japanese comics, read in the reverse order from English books. Manga is often in black and white and published as a series in magazines or volumes with genres ranging from romance to science fiction.

    Manga differs from American-style graphic novels in both the storytelling techniques it applies, such as wordless panels, and in the subject matter with each book closely targeted at a specific demographic.

    Viz and TokyoPop are publishers that have translated a broad number of Manga titles into English.

    Viz

    TokyoPop

  • What are graphic novels

    In her Create Readers blog post 'Graphic novels' is not comics’, Comic Creator Indira Neville writes:

    The most important thing to say up front is that while all graphic novels are comics, not all comics are graphic novels. Graphic novels are a particular type of comic. It goes like this...
    Comics is the medium (like ‘poetry’ or ‘film’ is a medium).
    A comic is any work in the comics medium regardless of genre, length, or format (like ‘a poem’ or ‘a film’).
    A graphic novel is long-form work of fiction in the comics medium (like an ‘ode’ or a ‘feature film’).
    'Graphic novels' is not comics

    Published in book format, they can be fiction or non-fiction, and usually tell a stand-alone story with a complex plot. Graphic novels like Watchmen bring together an episodic series.

    The term 'graphic novel' was coined by Will Eisner to distinguish his book A Contract with God (1978) from collections of newspaper comic strips. He described graphic novels as consisting of 'sequential art' — a series of illustrations which, when viewed in order, tell a story. Will Eisner is seen as the founder of graphic novels, and the industry award is named in his honour.

    Although today’s graphic novels are a recent phenomenon, this basic way of storytelling has been used in various forms for centuries — early cave drawings, hieroglyphics, and medieval tapestries like the famous Bayeux Tapestry can be thought of as stories told in pictures.
    — Jeff Smith, creator of Bone

    Manga

    Manga, or 'whimsical drawings' if literally translated, are Japanese comics, read in the reverse order from English books. Manga is often in black and white and published as a series in magazines or volumes with genres ranging from romance to science fiction.

    Manga differs from American-style graphic novels in both the storytelling techniques it applies, such as wordless panels, and in the subject matter with each book closely targeted at a specific demographic.

    Viz and TokyoPop are publishers that have translated a broad number of Manga titles into English.

    Viz

    TokyoPop

  • Value of graphic novels

    Graphic novels are very popular with boys and girls and represent great reading material for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students and reluctant readers.

    Combining visual art with literary and cinematic techniques allows for innovative and stimulating story lines that students can engage with. Graphic novels promote oral and visual literacy, as well as a love for reading. A good collection of graphic novels appeals to young people who might otherwise be reluctant to explore the library.

    They are an invaluable resource for teaching visual literacy skills and ideal for teens as discussed in The Truth about Graphic Novels by Kristin Fletcher-Spear, Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, & Teresa Copeland.

    They lure teen boys, while retaining the qualities beloved by teen girls. They work for ESL students, teach visual literacy and sequencing, and, above all else, they are wildly popular with an adolescent audience.
    — Kristin Fletcher-Spear, Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, & Teresa Copeland

    The Truth about Graphic Novels (pdf, 118KB)

  • Value of graphic novels

    Graphic novels are very popular with boys and girls and represent great reading material for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) students and reluctant readers.

    Combining visual art with literary and cinematic techniques allows for innovative and stimulating story lines that students can engage with. Graphic novels promote oral and visual literacy, as well as a love for reading. A good collection of graphic novels appeals to young people who might otherwise be reluctant to explore the library.

    They are an invaluable resource for teaching visual literacy skills and ideal for teens as discussed in The Truth about Graphic Novels by Kristin Fletcher-Spear, Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, & Teresa Copeland.

    They lure teen boys, while retaining the qualities beloved by teen girls. They work for ESL students, teach visual literacy and sequencing, and, above all else, they are wildly popular with an adolescent audience.
    — Kristin Fletcher-Spear, Merideth Jenson-Benjamin, & Teresa Copeland

    The Truth about Graphic Novels (pdf, 118KB)

  • How to read a graphic novel

    Graphic novels are stories that contain compelling artwork, and innovative design. For the reader, this means focusing as much on the reading as:

    • taking note of interplay of the words and graphics on each page
    • the layout arrangement (placement and size) of the panels
    • detail that illuminates character
    • how narration and dialogue are arranged.

    Graphic novels don’t work exactly the same way that traditional novels do, but they can be as demanding, creative, intelligent, compelling, and full of story as any book.
    — Robin Brenner

  • How to read a graphic novel

    Graphic novels are stories that contain compelling artwork, and innovative design. For the reader, this means focusing as much on the reading as:

    • taking note of interplay of the words and graphics on each page
    • the layout arrangement (placement and size) of the panels
    • detail that illuminates character
    • how narration and dialogue are arranged.

    Graphic novels don’t work exactly the same way that traditional novels do, but they can be as demanding, creative, intelligent, compelling, and full of story as any book.
    — Robin Brenner

  • Using graphic novels in the classroom or at home to encourage reading

    In the classroom

    Scholastic has written a guide to using graphic novels with children and teens. This is an excellent starting point for advice on how to use graphic novels in the classroom. The guide provides a number of links including a link to Robin Brenner's website No Flying, No Tights which is a great resource with reviews of graphic novels for teens, while Sidekicks, is its sister site for children.

    Graphic novels can be used to transition younger readers into novels with popular series such as Geronimo Stilton and Tinkerbell publishing graphic novels formats.

    Reluctant readers can also benefit from graphic novels as their non threatening presentation of text and use of illustrations can be more appealing to some students.

    Guide to using graphic novels with children and teens

    No flying, no tights

    Sidekicks

    Reading with pictures teachers' guide — a pdf under 'documents' near the bottom of the page. 

    At home

    Graphic novels can be a great way to encourage reading at home and make connections with parents who have read comics as a child. Graphic novels are fun for children to read and are great to give as gifts.

  • Using graphic novels in the classroom or at home to encourage reading

    In the classroom

    Scholastic has written a guide to using graphic novels with children and teens. This is an excellent starting point for advice on how to use graphic novels in the classroom. The guide provides a number of links including a link to Robin Brenner's website No Flying, No Tights which is a great resource with reviews of graphic novels for teens, while Sidekicks, is its sister site for children.

    Graphic novels can be used to transition younger readers into novels with popular series such as Geronimo Stilton and Tinkerbell publishing graphic novels formats.

    Reluctant readers can also benefit from graphic novels as their non threatening presentation of text and use of illustrations can be more appealing to some students.

    Guide to using graphic novels with children and teens

    No flying, no tights

    Sidekicks

    Reading with pictures teachers' guide — a pdf under 'documents' near the bottom of the page. 

    At home

    Graphic novels can be a great way to encourage reading at home and make connections with parents who have read comics as a child. Graphic novels are fun for children to read and are great to give as gifts.

  • Not-to-be-missed graphic novels

    Below we've noted a few not-to-be-missed graphic novels and graphic novel authors:

    • Neil Gaiman is renowned as an international leader in this field
    • Anthony Horowitz's Scorpia series includes several titles published in graphic novel format as well as traditional novels.

    New Zealand writers include:

    • Dylan Horrocks and his book Hicksville
    • Ant Sang
    • Chris Slane's Maui series, as well as his artwork for A Nice Day for a War.

    Books that include graphic elements combined with regular text chapters are:

    • the Lemony Snicket books, and
    • some of the Horrible Histories.

    Graphic novels popular with girls have been written by the authors:

    • Rania Telgemeier, along with
    • Ann M. Martin's adaptation of The Babysitter's Club series.

    Well known series have also been remastered in this format appealing to a wide range of audiences, for example:

    • Tintin
    • Asterix
    • DC
    • Marvel
    • Shakespeare.

    Prize-winning graphic novels

    Graphic novels that have won a notable award are listed below:

    • El Deafo by Cece Bell won the John Newbury Medal and the Eisner award for Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12) in 2015.
    • Maus by Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer prize special citations and awards in 1992.
    • Pedro and Me by Judd Winick won numerous awards including YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and the Notable Children's Book Selection, American Library Association (2001).
    • Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware won the Guardian first book award & The Eisner Awards' Best Publication Design and Best Graphic Album: Reprint, 2001.
    • Persepolis & Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi won the Angoulême Coup de Coeur Award and the Angoulême Album of the Year award in 2003.
    • Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol won the Eisner for Best Publication for Young Adults (ages 12–17)in 2012.
  • Not-to-be-missed graphic novels

    Below we've noted a few not-to-be-missed graphic novels and graphic novel authors:

    • Neil Gaiman is renowned as an international leader in this field
    • Anthony Horowitz's Scorpia series includes several titles published in graphic novel format as well as traditional novels.

    New Zealand writers include:

    • Dylan Horrocks and his book Hicksville
    • Ant Sang
    • Chris Slane's Maui series, as well as his artwork for A Nice Day for a War.

    Books that include graphic elements combined with regular text chapters are:

    • the Lemony Snicket books, and
    • some of the Horrible Histories.

    Graphic novels popular with girls have been written by the authors:

    • Rania Telgemeier, along with
    • Ann M. Martin's adaptation of The Babysitter's Club series.

    Well known series have also been remastered in this format appealing to a wide range of audiences, for example:

    • Tintin
    • Asterix
    • DC
    • Marvel
    • Shakespeare.

    Prize-winning graphic novels

    Graphic novels that have won a notable award are listed below:

    • El Deafo by Cece Bell won the John Newbury Medal and the Eisner award for Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12) in 2015.
    • Maus by Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer prize special citations and awards in 1992.
    • Pedro and Me by Judd Winick won numerous awards including YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and the Notable Children's Book Selection, American Library Association (2001).
    • Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware won the Guardian first book award & The Eisner Awards' Best Publication Design and Best Graphic Album: Reprint, 2001.
    • Persepolis & Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi won the Angoulême Coup de Coeur Award and the Angoulême Album of the Year award in 2003.
    • Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol won the Eisner for Best Publication for Young Adults (ages 12–17)in 2012.
  • Review sites for graphic novels

    There a number of good websites that review graphic novels. They include:

  • Review sites for graphic novels

    There a number of good websites that review graphic novels. They include:

  • Where to buy graphic novels in New Zealand

    Specialist suppliers of graphic novels in New Zealand are:

    • Arkham City Comics Royal Oak Mall Shop, 45A/691 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak, Auckland. 09 625 6537
    • Graphic 105 Cuba Mall, Wellington. 04 384 2691
    • Heroes for sale 582 Karangahape Rd, Newton, Auckland. 09 378 8414
  • Where to buy graphic novels in New Zealand

    Specialist suppliers of graphic novels in New Zealand are:

    • Arkham City Comics Royal Oak Mall Shop, 45A/691 Manukau Rd, Royal Oak, Auckland. 09 625 6537
    • Graphic 105 Cuba Mall, Wellington. 04 384 2691
    • Heroes for sale 582 Karangahape Rd, Newton, Auckland. 09 378 8414
  • Managing graphic novels in your school library

    When you add graphic novels to your collection there are some practical things to consider.

    • Have a separate collection of 'graphic novels' — if you have non-fiction graphic novels in the collection they can still be catalogued with the Dewey number even though they are shelved with other graphic novels.
    • Check the collection management section of your library guiding documents includes a reference to material in different formats, and how to handle challenges should they arise.
    • Develop a range of types of graphic novels, for example, superheroes, manga, classics, novels, non-fiction.
  • Managing graphic novels in your school library

    When you add graphic novels to your collection there are some practical things to consider.

    • Have a separate collection of 'graphic novels' — if you have non-fiction graphic novels in the collection they can still be catalogued with the Dewey number even though they are shelved with other graphic novels.
    • Check the collection management section of your library guiding documents includes a reference to material in different formats, and how to handle challenges should they arise.
    • Develop a range of types of graphic novels, for example, superheroes, manga, classics, novels, non-fiction.
  • Find out more

    Get graphic — resources for teachers and librarians including an extensive list of resources and suppliers for collection development.

    Graphic novels 101 — Anastasia Betts provides information and resources for educators.

    Cooperative Children's Book Centre (CCBC) School of Education — has links and information about graphic novels.

    Reading lessons graphic novels 101 — by Hollis Margaret Rudiger.

    Using graphic novels with children and teens: a guide for teachers and librarians (pdf, 1.6MB) — Scholastic, based on using the graphic novel Bone in the classroom.

    The Center for Cartoon Studies — includes lesson plans, exercises, study guides and sample scripts.

    ReadWriteThink — International Reading Association and the (US) National Council of Teachers of English, ideas and resources for lessons and also the following.

    Book report alternative: comic strips and cartoon squares — from ReadWriteThink.

    Comics in the classroom — a comic site for parents, teachers, and librarians.

    Hicksville Press — New Zealand comics and graphic novels, a 100-page directory of New Zealand cartoonists and comic creators as a free download.

  • Find out more

    Get graphic — resources for teachers and librarians including an extensive list of resources and suppliers for collection development.

    Graphic novels 101 — Anastasia Betts provides information and resources for educators.

    Cooperative Children's Book Centre (CCBC) School of Education — has links and information about graphic novels.

    Reading lessons graphic novels 101 — by Hollis Margaret Rudiger.

    Using graphic novels with children and teens: a guide for teachers and librarians (pdf, 1.6MB) — Scholastic, based on using the graphic novel Bone in the classroom.

    The Center for Cartoon Studies — includes lesson plans, exercises, study guides and sample scripts.

    ReadWriteThink — International Reading Association and the (US) National Council of Teachers of English, ideas and resources for lessons and also the following.

    Book report alternative: comic strips and cartoon squares — from ReadWriteThink.

    Comics in the classroom — a comic site for parents, teachers, and librarians.

    Hicksville Press — New Zealand comics and graphic novels, a 100-page directory of New Zealand cartoonists and comic creators as a free download.