Morning Buzz

Graphic Novels

Michelle Wang
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Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a classic graphic novel. 

Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

Graphic novels are loosely defined as publications using pictures to tell a story or event. It includes genres such as comics, a collection of comic strips, manga, or manga-styled western literature, etc. Whether you think that graphic novels are an artistic way to tell a tale or that they leave no room for imagination, the fact is, graphic novels are here to stay. From libraries and bookstores to even classrooms, graphic novels have been satisfying readers of all ages. Their rapid growth in popularity is not going to fizzle away anytime soon.

Many parents may furrow their eyebrows and purse their lips at the mention of graphic novels, but the fact is that graphic novels are not just popular; they are a great encouragement for hesitant readers. Raina Telgemeire has been a popular name among typical fourth-grade readers. Her graphic novels, Sister, Smile, Drama, and Ghost, frequently send kids dashing toward the bookshelves, provoking many “please walk” responses from library staff members. Telgemeire's stories are every kid’s life stories. Young readers not only relate but can also learn a thing or two in dealing with similar situations in their own life. Furthermore, kids in the same grades can be on different reading levels for many reasons. However, when they can share and discuss the same book, even the most reluctant reader may be infected with the enthusiasm. 

Phoebe and Her Unicorn

Dana Simpson's Phoebe and Her Unicorn series brings Phoebe's imaginary unicorn to life.


It is undeniable that graphic novels are fun to read. To kids, graphic novels help them to visualize creativity and inspire artistry. In the Phoebe and Her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson, the author brings Phoebe's imaginary unicorn to life and perfectly captures the creative and adventurous minds of young kids. The wittiness and quirkiness of Phoebe can even make an adult chuckle at times. 

Among all library patrons, teens are probably the most interesting age group. From the most voracious readers to the rebel resistance force armed with every excuse to not read, graphic novels are more likely to soften the struggle. 

Superhero comics have had a following ever since they were created. To this day, along with the new release of every new Marvel or DC movie, comics fly off of the shelves. Similarly, manga readerships in the States have been growing exponentially in recent years, even though manga already have a huge fan base around the globe. manga is typically graphic novels published in Japan, with genres ranging from romance to mystery, or fantasy to historical events. 

If you are a parent and thinking that this is all just distractions, hold your thoughts, perhaps this will change your mind. There is a wonderful series called Manga Classics. They are just as the title suggests: classic tales redone in manga style. So far, the series includes titles such as Pride and Prejudice, The Works of Edgar Allen Poe and Great Expectations, etc. To many, classic literature has become dull due to obsolete language and irrelevancy of the time period. Graphic novel versions not only aid the reading with visuals but also give the story a fresh look. They are perfect for supplementing original texts or stand alone as leisure reads. 

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a graphic memoir by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. 


At last, if you think graphic novels are just for kids, then you are missing out. In fact, graphic novels had first success in the 1960s with the publication of Maus by Art Spiegelman. In Maus, the author uses mice as characters in the retelling of lives and events during the Holocaust. Subtleties such as these leave readers plenty to contemplate. Another classic one was Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. This autobiographic tale tells the journey of a young girl growing up in revolutionary Iran. The format provides a medium for the artist to combine powerful images and humor to create a one of a kind experience for readers. It makes the subject light with humor at times and at others, leaden with the deepest emotions.     

Now, if you are not a fan of such serious topics, there are many other genres of graphic novels too, from Stephen King's Dark Tower series to biographies such as Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, and the ever so popular Game of Thrones to science fiction Star Wars, anyone can find something appealing to their pallet. If all fails, one can always enjoy a relaxing time with a familiar collection of Peanuts or Garfield regardless of their age. 

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