Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hey out there, what do you think about Graphic Novels?

When I was a kid I used to read what were called the funnies. Smilin' Jack, Dick Tracy, Mandrake the Magician, Gasoline Alley and many, many others. They were, for the most part, serial stories, and I followed them with religious fervor. The New York Daily News building where I later worked as a copy boy gave guided tours, the highlight of which was to show us what was happening in the future to our favorite "funny" characters. Then came comic books with stories of Superman, Batman, and on and on.     

I gave up reading them in eighth grade. By then I had switched to real books, haunted libraries, read every young boy's adventure story on the shelves of the Stone Avenue Library in Brooklyn. Then I upgraded to the genuine classics and contemporary novels and stories. To me reading is a way of life. How can one write if one doesn't read?

Perhaps it is the essence of this writer's snobbery, but I am definitely not a fan of the so-called graphic novel. It is nothing more than an extended comic book with drawn images and word balloons designed to tell the story. It demeans the word "novel," abuses it, makes it seem lesser, kid stuff. Maybe it's the category title that bugs me. I'm not saying it doesn't have its place, but I can't see how it enhances one's ability to read and understand how the imagination enriches the word pictures of the mind created by the writer.

Am I an old meany? A curmudgeon? A purist? Or just plain cynical? I would love to have your comments, but please be nice.

Warren Adler is the author of 30 novels, including The War of the Roses and his latest, Funny Boys.

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