Friday, September 24, 2010

The Graphic Novel on a Tuesday

This past month has been quite an exploration for me.  With the decision of the Tuesday Book Club to tackle a graphic novel I took on a little research into the genre.  I began by reading the book chosen for this month Persepolis, and discovered a completely new way of telling a story.  It was brilliant.  Of course I always knew of comics, but up until reading Persepolis I narrow-mindedly considered comics just a bit of fun, an arena for super heroes, Tintins and the like.  For those that don’t know, Persepolis is an autobiography of Marjane Sartrapi an Iranian woman now living in the western world.  The story is simply told, the illustrations are minimalistic in stark black and white but together work so effectively.  There is humour, revolution, childhood, growing up, war, family, history … and so much more in this book.    

I might be going over things people have known about for years now, but on my mini venture in to the graphic novel I discovered some of the best books are in fact graphic novels – there’s Watchmen listed in Time Magazine’s top 100 reads, there’s Maus which won a Pulitzer Prize award, there’s The Dark Knight, a classic, and so many more.

Last month a few of us were unsure about our decision to read a graphic novel, but tonight was so enjoyable I want to do it again! 

Bernard Caleo was our very special guest on the night.  He was awesome. If like me you’ve been iffy about comics and graphic novels then Bernard should be able to fix that for you.

Firstly we were extremely lucky to get first glimpse at Nicki Greenberg’s Hamlet (William Shakespeare's Hamlet, staged on the page) and it looks fantastic, something quite special. 
Bernard then took us on a tour starting with the comic strips in the American newspapers, their rise in popularity and the rock star status that cartoonists held in those early days.  To the introduction of the mini comic magazines which were a means of cashing in on the popularity of the newspaper comic strip.  To Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster trying to sell their comic strip idea to the newspapers of the time and being knocked back.  To Superman finally being seen and read by the public.  To Will Eisner’s role in the evolution of the graphic novel.   To Joe Sacco and his ‘visual journalism’. To more comic book writer’s of today, with a special focus on those gifted Australian artists that work hard and long and are deserving of our recognition.

I’ve skipped lots and writing about it just isn’t the same, you had to be there.

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