Tuesday, April 15, 2008
New York Magazine ran and article about the acceptance of graphic storytelling. Highlighting two writers Brian Selznick, author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Jeff Kinney, creator of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. The article goes on to say, "They have have seized on the shift in young people’s reading expectations to make enormous hits out of books that mix comics and literature in clever ways. The yearlong residence of Hugo Cabret and the “Wimpy Kid” books near the top of the Times chapter-book best-seller list—typically populated by the usual suspects of young-adult best-sellerdom, like fantasy epics and li’l-chick lit—represents the first wave of a potential revolution in the YA market: the incursion of comics into “respectable” children’s fiction."
Like this a new thing? Comics have been around for years as well as graphic novels. So why now? Why now are they finally falling into the mainstream. Timing? Acceptance? Money?
I for one welcome the "change" and hope it pushes writers and illustrators to see the medium in a new way to produce new stories that will entertain us.
Entertain us? Is that really why these books are becoming more popular. Are they just more upfront out being entertaining? Is a book with 400 pages with 200 illustrations more entertaining than a book with just 400 pages of text? On the surface yes. I believe the success of the "Wimpy Kid" books beyond that it is a great story and funny as hell is that when kids or even adults look at it they don't see "work". They see a book that is entertaining. An this is solely due to its format. Mixing pictures and words to ease the reader along. To hide any "work" they might be doing in the actual reading in the pleasure and entertainment of the illustrations. Thus hooking the sought after reluctant reader. Sounds pretty easy right? Not at all. Like anything else you need a good idea and you need to execute that idea well. Just combining Words and Pictures in a new way just to be where the trend is won't work and it will result in mediocre works. I just hope that publishers don't go to the route of the cut off face/body part novel jacket. It seemed cool at the time but now that everyone is doing it things begin to look the same.
To clarify . . . do I want to see more books like The Invention of Hugo Cabret or The Wimpy Kid books, Yes! But I would hope not to see clones of these ideas rather the ideas that build on these ideas taking this "new" medium further.