19 October 2011

from the 101 list: my first graphic novel

Successfully crossed another one off!

✔ 52. Read a graphic novel

A graphic novel is kinda like a comic book, but longer and possibly with better writing.  As I perused the shelf of them at the library, I learned a few things:
  • Almost all of them are geared toward teenagers.
  • Some of them from Japan read right-to-left (and "back" to "front")
  • There are even classics like Romeo and Juliet that have been made into graphic novels.
I thought about picking up one of the classics, but I had read them all already, and this mission was to read something entirely new.  I settled on a book by an American woman called Page by Paige, written and illustrated by Laura Lee Gulledge.

The book is about a teenage girl named Paige who moves from Charlottesville, VA, to New York City.  Her parents are writers, but she's more of an artist.  She picks up a sketchbook upon moving there and basically documents her new life in the city and her exploration of herself as an artist with sketches and panels.  Even though it's in grayscale, there are some really beautiful full-page sketches.  The book turns sorta "meta" as she shows her sketches to others, and it's basically the same book you're reading.

I actually liked this book more than I thought I would.  It was a super-quick read, since it was mostly drawings.  But it took me back to my 16-year-old self, who was full of quirky ideas and had the friends to help execute them.  There were even instructions on how to play what they called "drawing telephone"--I blogged about this game last year, calling it "Picta-phone."

This book was also a very recent publication (2011), so there were references to certain internet sites and bands that helped me feel connected to the characters.  (Maybe it's because I get most books at the library that I expect them to be dated so much??)  The book also had a subplot about Paige's relationship with her mother, and toward the end there was this really great page/panel about it.  Being pregnant with my own daughter, it really struck me:
I suppose all moms have an idea who they HOPE their daughters will be.  Like a connect-the-dots picture where you think you know what shape it will become.  But then it's the daughter who draws the lines, and she might connect dots you didn't intend, making a whole different picture.  So I've gotta trust the dots she's given me, and she's gotta trust me to draw the picture myself.

So have you ever read a graphic novel?  Do you have any recommendations anyone new to the genre?


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