Intellectual and Serious Comics?… What?

When we hear the words “comic book” or “graphic novel” we picture the ultimate superhero comic books that everyone knows about. But what about the term “graphic narrative”? Not a very common phrase that’s heard of, but what comes to mind? It’s actually just like a graphic novel but explores “a range of types of narrative work in comics”(767). In Hillary Chute and Marianne DeKoven’s “Introduction: Graphic Narrative” they delve deeper into the more “sophisticated”(767) content of graphic novels and the intellectual world in which most people don’t see and appreciate from those comics.

In todays day and age, if you put a picture with anything it’ll definitley capture someones attention, especially if it’s something controversial. The old way of thinking about graphic narratives was mostly through action hero comic books, but now there’s more to offer, especially when it comes to the content of a comic. It’s weird thinking that a comic book can be more than about saving the day, fighting crime, or using magical powers; it’s about pushing the envelope as far as topics can go and discussing issues that aren’t so fictional with images that aren’t always pleasant or cool. If i were to ask anyone about graphic novels such as the one’s listed in Chute and DeKovens article would anyone have any clue as to what i’m talking about? …Me neither, and that’s because the articles that are mentioned focus more on topics of “serious academic inquiry” (768) that really make the reader think, which is something that’s pretty much unheard of in the comic book world we think of.

I had no clue about one of the more prominent graphic narratives Maus until i learned we would be reading it in class. I also had no idea that it was a comic book-like novel that talks about Aushwitz. It’s a “Serious comic” (770) that really changes the image of what we think a comic book can be. In all honesty, if there’s pictures with it, then i’ll read it no matter what the content, even if it’s a graphic narrative that will make me think. Most peoples perceptions about a graphic novel are based on the content, so when it comes to such comics like Maus, would more people read it? Will people understand what this kind of literarature is all about? It’s all about keeping an open mind and broadening our imagination as far as our typical view of what comics really are.


5 thoughts on “Intellectual and Serious Comics?… What?

  1. I agree with your post! It really gives the point of what Chute was saying. I think that many people, including myself, stereotype comics. I usually automatically assume cartoons to be in four categories: superheros, politics, those Japanese manga book things, and people trying to put down one another. And I really do not care for any of those four categories. When I first went to buy Maus… I was extremely annoyed. I never read one comic strip/book (unless it was for school). I cannot stand comics. But after reading Chute’s article it gave me a different perspective on comics. Actually like you mentioned, I prefer to call them “academic graphic narratives.” Today I finished reading book one of Maus, and I really enjoyed it! It was much easier to read then a 600 biography with straight text.

  2. Good point about comic books, graphic novels, and graphic narratives. I never thought of it like that. When I hear the word “comic book” the first two things that come to mind are batman and superman. Maus was not what I expected from a comic, but I certainly enjoy it. After reading your post I want to go back and read all my old comics and see if I can find different meaning in them. I never thought of them as the ones to, if I can quote you, “push the envelope as far as topics can go and discuss issues that aren’t so fictional with images that aren’t always pleasant or cool.” Comics, or graphic narratives, are one of my favorite type of written works to read. I love how the pictures and words work together to tell stories. My favorite comic is Calvin and Hobbes. You wrote a very nice blog post and hd a funny picture with it.

  3. I very much agree and enjoyed reading your blog. No matter how difficult it was to read Chute’s article about “Graphic Narratives”, I think you would agree that it opened my mind as a reader of how important comics really are. When one first thinks of comics, one sees a nerdy kid geeking out over the newest super hero comic like Superman. But Chute explained it with much more depth and obviously a lot more substance. It’s the combining of the words and images that make a graphic narrative. Personally, I’m not interested in comics. I’ve always thought that they take away the very purpose of reading a book. The images should be left for our own imaginations(unless you’re in grade school). However, when I read the first part of Maus and remembered what Chute said, I began to realize that the combination of a deep narrative mixed with an almost mocking yet playful graphic; it works. Maus is very addictive, yet hard at times to read. Art’s narrative is so heart breaking yet compelling and his graphics of Jews presented as mice, the Polish presented as pigs, and Nazis presented as cats is playful and very interesting. Chute’s article really changed my perception and stereotyping of comic books/their readers. I may soon become a graphic narrative reader after finishing Maus. Great blog! Hannah Sauceda

  4. Yes. Yes! So very true. I’m so glad that Chute was able to tell that Graphic Novels are just as powerful as reading a written novels. I roll my eyes when there are those who can’t seem to understand Comic. Half the time, they don’t even know how to read it. I read Japanese mangas a lot. And I have to say the majority I have seen are very emotional. The good quality ones, have comic artist are able to convey the characters expressions, able to draw action, able to draw things that make me feel like I am are a part of it. I am able to see what the artist has in mind.
    In text, it’s hard for me to picture what the author is trying to illustrate, but when I read comics, I am able to see what the comic artist sees. While there are novels that captivate me, it takes longer for me to read. I haven’t read a novel in such a while either. Most of the hottest latest Young Adult novels have the same format. Mary Sue, Hot guy, falls in love, forbidden love. It’s very irritating to me now that I can’t stand reading them anymore. With comics, it’s quick, colorful, humorous, and serious. I actually find more types of genres than novels.

  5. Nice post! To be honest, I wasn’t really into comics when I was growing up. I read a few, but I never took them seriously until now. When it comes to reading, I’m still old-fashioned in the sense of liking the idea of having to “fill the words with meaning” and use my own imagination to create the scenes in my head. That is why I still prefer to read an actual book. But I have to say reading Maus completely changed my perspective on comics. I finished the first book in just a few hours and I truly enjoyed both the images and narrative. The characters are fascinating and the story is so relevant; I just couldn’t put it down! In my opinion, people should get more informed about this medium instead of judging it based on perceptions. Like you said at the end, “It’s all about keeping an open mind and broadening our imagination as far as our typical view of what comics really are.”

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