12.12.2005

Graphic Novel Of The Month

Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life (Collins/Design): I’m surprised and pleased to report that this month’s selection is *not* a graphic novel, but rather a book *about* graphic novels. Stumbled across this while hunting for Greg Rucka’s new Q&C novel, Private Wars, at Barnes & Noble. There are tons of books like this that purport to catalogue a history of the medium or a selection of the “best” works, or a focus on a particular genre or publisher. They all fall short.

Paul Gravett offers up the most balanced take on graphic novels that I’ve seen to date. Extremely well rounded in terms of historical backdrop, timelessness of selections, and diversity. Just enough history to explain the medium to newbies without boring them or overwhelming them. Engaging enough to keep diehards entertained. Great mix of selections, from the obvious classics like Maus or Watchmen, to some more recent personal favorites like Planetary, Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde and Palestine, as well as works from Chris Ware. Also a wonderful mix of genres and publishers, from the big mainstream companies and properties, to a plethora of independents.

I actually found 2 or 3 hidden gems which I hadn’t previously heard of that have been added to my “to buy” list. Dense with facts and analysis, but not boring or inaccessible. A masterpiece of design and layout that’s earned it’s place along side some of the works it describes. Excellent guide for someone new to the medium. Grade A.

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