Archive for the ‘graphic novels’ Category
I’m reading Ubby’s Underdogs: The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon by Brenton E. McKenna, Australia’s first Indigenous graphic novel. I’m looking forward to blogging about it when I finish. Magabala Books is launching this exciting tale of adventure and mystery on Friday week, 20 May in Broome. If you’re in the area join the fun at Sun Pictures – click on Ubby’s Invite to see the details.
And now for why you can call me Doc…
‘All of his [Poe’s] books were burned in the Great Fire. That’s thirty years ago – 2006.’
‘Ah’ said Mr Bigelow wisely, ‘One of those!’
‘Yes, one of those, Bigelow. He and Lovecraft and Hawthorn and Ambrose Bierce and all the tales of terror and fantasy and horror and, for that matter, tales of the future were burned. Heartlessly. They passed a law. Oh, it started very small. In 1999 it was a grain of sand. It began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves’
– Ray Bradbury (1950) The Martian Chronicles
Luckily for us, Ray Bradbury’s future didn’t eventuate. Now that we’re inundated with comics and graphic novels, I wrote a thesis on them (and it swallowed way too many years of my life). Cos my baby Graphic novels: Enticing teenagers into the library is out in the world, googleable for all, you can read it. I don’t recommend you read it all, just dip into the bits that take your fancy. There is a table of contents, but sadly no index.
This is a nice short summary:
This thesis investigated the information habits of teenagers, including their recreational reading and internet use, and means of encouraging library use among teenagers, particularly through graphic novel collections in public and school libraries in Australia. A mixed methods approach was used which included focus groups with teenagers, a survey of public libraries, and interviews with public and teacher librarians.
In high school my English teacher said we couldn’t read a play, we had to see it performed. She made us get up in front of the class, reading our lines and (vaguely) acting it out.* We did Hamlet in Year 12 and I wonder if Nicki Greenberg’s graphic novel adaptation, staged on the page, would have been allowed by Mrs N.
I was devastated to discover NG’s Hamlet isn’t out till October!? Alien Onion provided a sneak peek of the very pretty outer and inner of the book and when I asked if I could use their photo I whinged (my special talent) about many things, not only having to wait til Oct. I concluded my whinge with,
i might just jump in a stream strewn with flowers
The Australian School Library Association NSW is holding a Professional Development day 27 February at the State Library of NSW: New Literacies, New Learning. Two of the speakers are Di Laycock and Allison Lee and they will both be talking about graphic novels. Both have graphic novel collections in their school libraries and encourage the format’s use in class by their teachers. I cited their previous writing on graphic novels in my thesis. If only I didn’t live so far from Sydney.
Di Laycock, Barker College
Different texts for different times (7 – 12)
This session will encourage teachers to consider graphic novels as different texts for different times; as texts capable of bridging the disconnect between students’ lifeworlds and the classroom, and as texts worthy of facilitating the development of multiliteracies in our students. As well as providing an overview of the codes and conventions of the graphic novel format, the theory and research that support the use of graphic novels for learning and teaching will be discussed via reference to specific examples of graphic novels and practical suggestions as to their use.
Allison Lee, Emanuel School
Different texts for different times (K – 6)
Children and young adults who are constantly surrounded by visual stimuli – movies, television, electronic billboards, magazines, computers, palm pilots, video games etc – have learned to associate images with storytelling. It is therefore easy to see why graphic novels have become increasingly popular over the last 10 years or so. This presentation will explain what graphic novels are (and aren’t), provide practical examples for using graphic novels for upper primary students and discuss their value as a classroom tool.
She said it took different skills to interpret the interplay of words and pictures in graphic novels – skills that were important in today’s highly visual world.
“You’re actually reading the pictures at the same time that you’re reading the words, so if you’re not used to it that can be very difficult. It’s something you have to learn.”
The above is a quote from Perth’s daily newspaper The West Australian and it was supplied to reporter Bethany Hiatt during an interview with me :) Last week I was interviewed about graphic novels and my research by Education Editor Ms Hiatt. My brain is mush due to thesis, but I actually made some lucid comments that gave the impression my brain is not mush :P On Saturday the article was published . Some of The West Australian’s articles are reprinted online, but comics just don’t cut it. You can only read it if you’re in Perth and you’re one of those people who read the paper. What newspapers already know (and are desperately grasping for ideas on how they can make money from the younger generation who don’t read papers) I have now worked out.
I felt almost famous being in the newspaper. Unfortunately my fame is only among those older people who read the paper. I’m not denigrating the older generation of newspaper readers and I’m not sure what the cut-off age is, but when I txtd my friends to tell them to look for me in the paper, their answers were along these lines:
- Ignore me (it happens a lot due to most of what I txt being something totally random that I think is enormously funny but no one else does)
- Tell me to save the article for when we next met up
- Tell me he’d look at it at work on Monday
I have a list of graphic novels written or illustrated by Australians. It’s not extensive and I often discover titles I’ve missed, but finding Australian graphic novels and comics may become easier. Debbie Cox contacted me to tell about two projects of the National Library of Australia which aim to ensure the library collects published work of Australian comics creators. Collecting Australian Fringe Publishing at the National Library of Australia and The Comics Claiming Project are about the collection and treatment of comics, graphic novels, manga and zines at the NLA. The projects focus on:
- What’s being published by Australian creators and publishers, whether published in Australia or not
- Whether the NLA is adding them to the collection
- If not, how the intake of these materials could be improved
How is this relevant to Australian comics and graphic novels creators?
The NLA needs help ensuring Australian comics, graphic novels, manga and zines are represented in the national collection. For creators this will mean a copy of published work is preserved in a controlled environment and made accessible to library patrons now and in the future. Information about these works will also be made available as a catalogue record to anyone anywhere with access to the internet.
I’m writing about the interviews I conducted with six librarians last year. (Names of people and libraries have been changed to ensure confidentiality.) One of the first topics we discussed was why their library had a graphic novel collection. The most common reason was because their borrowers wanted to read them, with interest gleaned through requests for purchase and circulation statistics once acquired. Ms Marchamley cited the popularity of graphic novels among her students as the reason for Banksia Park High School Library’s collection, “I don’t think you can deny that they’re not getting used, especially all the new ones.” Her colleague Ms Tyler continued, “I mean nothing really sits on the shelf.” Ms Turner said of Tuart Grove High School Library’s graphic novels, “There’s a little hard core of students who prefer that format, so they’re ticking over steadily.”
As a voracious reader of graphic novels, Mr Carlton had slightly different reasons for a library collecting graphic novels. He was passionate about the format and read them in his spare time. He referred to their popularity, but also considered graphic novels were “a part of literature.”
I think you can’t not have graphic novels in your collection, because not everyone wants [conventional books]. I mean if you’re going to have you know, audio cassettes,…you’re going to have videos, books, DVDs…It’s just another format. And you’ve got the internet in there, so you’ve got graphic novels whether you want it or not through the internet [ie. web comics].
I previously blogged about whether reading a graphic novel is equivalent to reading a conventional book. Some of the teenagers I talked to thought this wasn’t the case, but most of the librarians agreed it was – striving through their work to ensure young people encountered a variety of genres and formats in their reading, without making judgements on supposed “quality.”
I asked every group of teenagers what they would think if graphic novels were assigned as an English class text. Some teenagers thought this would be an “easy” option and it was the visual component which led to their demotion of the format as a “legitimate” text. These teenagers also happened to be those who had limited experience of the format. (Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)
Fourteen year old Anna believed,
People would choose the graphic novel without like thinking about it cause they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s just a comic, it’ll be easy.’ But they won’t like think about like what you have to do. And they’ll just be like, ‘Oh it’s a change. And do that.’
Marty (age 14) said, “They’re not really books” and Jeremy (age 14) agreed, conjecturing that studying a graphic novel would compare unfavourably to a conventional book because it could not be studied it in depth.
That’s why we read more thorough books like The Red Cardigan  and stuff.
When I held focus groups with high school students for my PhD research some of the things they said were very funny – David being a case in point, although it was more what he did that entertained us. (Names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)
David (age 15) was an avid reader, but felt graphic novels were “too short, too simple,” preferring “more complicated” conventional books, which were “better.” At one point David’s classmate Mia (who was passionate about manga) felt his dislike needed reassessment. Her comment was inaudible but David reminded her that he was allowed a contrasting opinion. David had read Stormbreaker: the graphic novel (2006) by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnston, Kanako and Yuzuru, so felt he was informed on the issue. Despite his negative views, during the focus group he began reading Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom (2004) by Ted Naifeh.
Researcher: Do you think you’d try reading any of them, these, after seeing them today? You seem interested in it.
David: Graphic novels? I still think they’re no better than picture books.
Researcher: Yeah? You’re just reading it because it’s there in front of you?
Update: I made a mistake in this post and corrected it 11 June 2009.
I interviewed Librarian Ms Davilak at Hakea Park Public Library for my PhD research. (Names of people and libraries have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)
Hakea Park’s graphic novel collection was located in the YA area. When complaints were received about titles in this collection (at that time only from staff members before the title was put on the shelf), the title was investigated and if found to be unsuitable for teenagers, moved to the general (adult) collection and interfiled with ordinary fiction. One such title was manga of the genre Boys’ Love, which has themes of romance and love between two men . This genre is aimed at different age groups, and includes Yaoi, erotic titles aimed at adults . The title at Hakea Park had no explicit material – the two male characters only went as far as kissing. It was deemed to be unsuitable for the YA collection and moved to adult fiction. Young People’s Librarian Ms Davilak felt this outcome was acceptable, because the title had not been removed from the library. It was investigated by four librarians at Hakea Park and deemed suitable for teenagers. Ms Davilak explained, “We all talked about it. We decided that we would leave it where it was.” A fortunate outcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) teenagers and those questioning their sexuality who would benefit from finding such material in their YA collection. While Yaoi and Boys’ Love is generally created by and for women and McLelland believes,
Gay men tend not to identify with the beautiful youths in women’s manga and feel that these figures are figments of women’s imaginations.