Graphic Novels: Do They “Count”?

The other night I was at a small concert attended by a whole range of people, from little kids (most of whom were running around) to elderly folks (some of whom were dancing –it was a pretty lively concert). One boy, middle-school aged, sat in the front row reading a book, completely tuning out all the bouncing bodies and rockin’ music around him. At one point one of the band members announced she was awarding this kid one of their cd’s, for being “Best Reader.” He was embarrassed, but pleased–like who wouldn’t be?

My husband and I were sitting nearby and happened to notice the book he was reading seemed to have more pictures than words. “Oh, he’s just reading a comic book!” my husband commented. “Graphic novel,” I corrected him, and went on to say that there’s some pretty happening writing going on right now in that format.

Just because a book has pictures doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have complex characters, plot, ideas, and especially vocabulary. Heck, my oldest son practically taught himself to read on “Tintin” and “Calvin and Hobbes”! (Some GREAT words in C & H–I sure miss that strip…) Yeah, I can see how pictures take away the pleasure of reading great visual descriptions, but let’s face it, not all authors are all that good at those anyway.

What do you think? Do graphic novels “count” as novels? Why or why not? Have you read one which you’d like to recommend?

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