Did you know that graphic novels are not just for kids?

Just because you’ve passed the age of 10 doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy books with illustrations. Well, get ready, because a new collection of adult graphic novels will be available for your perusal by the time you read this. If you are already rolling your eyes and thinking “comic books are for kids and I only read real books,” please stay with me; if only to hear the reasons for supporting this exciting new library collection. Who knows, perhaps I’ll convince you to take a peek into a graphic novel the next time you’re in your favorite county library branch.

Let’s start with a definition: according to Michael Schumacher, an author and expert on graphic novels, graphic novels are “book-length works of sequential art expanded in scope [beyond science fiction and fantasy] to include biography, memoir, history and other types of non-fiction.” This is a great description of the collection you’ll now find on the shelves in Bangor, Campbell, Holmen, Onalaska and West Salem County Library branches.

There are plenty of science fiction/fantasy and super hero books in the collection to fill the needs for those who are fans, but the format of the graphic novel also lends itself well to a diverse array of nonfiction and historical subjects, and those interests are also well represented in our collection.

I love this quote from Library Journal that describes the power of graphic novels: “Graphic nonfiction can be especially effective in bringing a historical subject to vivid life in a way that makes if feel quite of the moment, both politically and visually — and almost cinematic in its sweep and immediacy…speak[ing] to readers in new ways.”

This is the take-away I’d love to impart with you; this is what graphic novels do best, speak to readers in a different way than plain text. Graphic novels are a more vivid and visually-engaging way for readers of all kinds to absorb the stories and books they are passionate about.

Here are a few recommendations to get you started on your graphic novel adventure:

  • For those who enjoy fantasy and sci-fi stories: “Saga” by Brian K. Vaughan — a series about a family just trying to make it and carve out their own space in the big universe, all while being hunted down by nefarious forces yet making friends along the way.
  • For fans of literary fiction: “The Graphic Canon Volume 1: From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons” edited by Russ Kick. This hefty tome covers everything from The Canterbury Tales, to Greek classics to Shakespeare’s Sonnets, to Native-American folktales, all told in different styles of comic illustrations.
  • For nonfiction fans: “The Beatles in Comics” by Michels Mabel. Filled with anecdotes from their very beginnings as The Quarrymen to their split, this book covers everything Beatles but in a new and fresh way. This book combines illustrations with photography for a cool effect.
  • For memoir/biography lovers: “Form of a Question” by Andrew Rostan. This is the memoir from one of the greatest winners in Jeopardy history and the formative moments that both brought him to the game stage and the lifelong lessons he gained from it.
  • For history/military buffs: “The ‘Stan” by Kevin Knodell. Based on true stories and reporting done in Afghanistan, this is a collection of short comics that depict a variety of real experiences in America’s longest war.

If you‘d like further recommendations or need help finding where we’ve put this new collection, just ask. As usual, holds can be placed in the online catalog via the link on our website or in person at any county branch. I hope to see you exploring in the graphic novels stacks.

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Dain Frisby-Dart is administrative circulation clerk at the Holmen branch of the La Crosse County Library system.

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