My graphic novel obsession has begun. I recently dropped $70 on new books [a considerable amount for a college student], on a bundle of new graphic novels/comic books. Barnes and Noble’s online store had a buy 2 DC comics, get a third one free was too much of a deal and I had to buy 6. When they came in, despite being in the middle of Mockingjay (a review later this week), I made some of them a priority in reading. In this article, I include my initial impressions of graphic novels and a relatively spoiler free impression of the ones I did read.
My New Graphic Novels
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 & 2
- The Killing Joke
- Dark Victory
- A Long Halloween
How to Read a Graphic Novel
Reading a graphic novel is not the same as reading a regular novel. Instead of large blocks of text describing a scene, an artist renders one with his distinct style. The amount of time that a writer uses to describe a scene is the time you need to spend looking at the setting the artist is portraying. Doing so will often create the setting of a novel better than any dialogue of the characters. Obviously, graphic novels are advanced through actual pictures than dialogue and text.
This change up seems straightforward, but artists can certainly do some really cool things that simply can’t be experienced through traditional books and texts. For example, a scene can be drawn and another character in another scene can narrate through text boxes an overarching theme describing the event that’s currently happening in the drawn portion. For example [KILLING JOKE SPOILERS, highlight to see] ——- ;The Joker forces Lieutenant Gordon through a traumatizing rollercoaster ride where he talks about his own descent into madness while trying to force Gordon into descending into his own, meanwhile drawing the actual rollercoaster ride full of dark imagery—– [END SPOILERS]. It’s cool how themes can be set and then exemplified between text and pictures.
Graphic novels are short. Not only are they shorter than most books in terms of thickness, the dialogue of characters as the only text make graphic novels a relatively quick read despite their $10+ price tag. Another issue I have, and this even includes regular books, is that I like to jump ahead a page or two when I’m anxious. For example, in traditional books, when I flip to a page where the end of a chapter is included, I more than often find myself accidentally taking a peak at the last line of the chapter to see the suspenseful finish, spoiling the last two pages of every chapter. This same concept goes to graphic novels, except it’s harder to control. When I turn pages and the huge reveal is on the right hand page, I often skip the left side just to see what happens. I personally don’t like this because I feel as though it’s a wee spoiler [which I do not condone]. I’m trying harder and harder to repress that habit.
Now let’s take a look at the graphic novels I’ve read so far.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 & 2
How many universes exist where literary icons like Edward Hyde, Allan Quatermain and the Invisible Man are on the same team and fight evil? The League of Extraordinary Men is set in a fictional world where great works of real-world fiction occurred in real life. The British government is in a pinch, and they think of this team as a literary Avengers to help save the world. A group of unconventional fighters are brought together to fight evil. Included are the conflicted personalities of Wilhelminia Murray Harker from Dracula, Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Allan Quatermain from the King Solomon’s Mines series, Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Hawley Griffon from the Invisible Man. INSANITY ensues. I’m not going to give the plot details away, but I will tell you that it has nothing to do with the movie. I kinda wanna read all of these novels to get the backstory on the characters because they’re so interesting. The literary references are not only restricted to these novels, but they also include villains and other supporting characters. By no means did I recognize all of them, but I dare you to pick up the novels and try and find out yourself.
The Killing Joke
I have read in interviews that Heath Ledger used Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke to to get into the role of the Joker. Before Heath Ledger, I knew the Joker similar to Jack Nicholson’s Joker, who was more of a gag-crazed crime lord with the tendencies of a clown. Ledger’s Joker immortalized the Joker to be a psychopathic killer clown in make-up who was dark and twisted. He clearly didn’t use Jack Nicholson’s role as inspiration. So when I read The Killing Joke, I understood where he came from. There’s just so much Joker backstory in these panels that reveals so much as to why the way he is and why he commits crime in the first place, which is so much better than believing every criminal just does bad things for money. The Killing Joke is short, but its message so powerful and shocking, that it’s absolutely one of the most memorable things I’ve ever read. I will give no plot spoilers away, but I highly recommend this as a read if you’re a Joker fan.
The Next Set of Novels
- Y: The Last Man
- The Walking Dead
As soon as I’m done running through the initial books, I plan on getting some of these next. They’re pricey yes, but there is no real price on happiness…Happiness = comic books.
Also, please recommend any you’re a fan of that I didn’t list or mention! Persuade me how good it is without giving spoilers away!