Saturday, 31 May 2014

Why you should give GNs a try - if you haven't already.



I have just completed a series of graphic novel R4Rs on my Sooz Book Reviews blog and have discovered a whole new avenue of reading pleasure, as a result.

For a long time I was dismissive of GNs, assuming they were for teenage boys (and men who behave like teenage boys), but boy was I wrong!  I grew interested in giving the graphic novel a try when I heard about Days of the Bagnold Summer while listening to a book-related podcast dedicated the medium.  This was in 2012, at the time that it had been nominated for the Costa Prize. I bought a copy soon after but it sat on my bookshelf collecting dust until recently.

The next one I found out about was Saga Volume 1, which I got as a Christmas present last year.  Having 2 GNs in my possession and a (minor) reluctance to read them, I decided to feature some GNs on SBRs for the month of May.  As well as the ones already mentioned, I included Sex Criminals and Gen 1-3, a Manga (the Japanese GN equivalent).

GNs tend to run as a series of many instalments, and you have to be prepared to invest in following the many parts (some grouped together in volumes, such as the Saga series). As a consequence, the plot tends to unravel slowly with each part. On the plus side, you don't get that problem of padding out or a flimsy plot that is increasingly common with serialised novels.

I was less enthusiastic about manga. Admittedly, I only read the one (although there were 4 independent stories within it). I'll need to read more before I can give my verdict.

Graphic novels aren't just about superheros and fantasy; it's possible to find any and every genre within the medium, so there is something for everyone.  What I wasn't expecting was just how effective the use of written and pictorial story-telling can be - it's positively synergistic.