Paul Gravett: Why make a Graphic Novel


1001 comics you must read before you die

Comics are a gigantic, ever-changing medium

comics art for tate

hicksville by dylan horrocks

Good books if you want to get into comics

Comics have quite a long history

topffer Swiss author and teacher Rodolphe Töpffer can be regarded as the first European comic artist. He was the first to combine text and illustration and to divide a story into multiple panels. Fearing for his reputation, Töpffer never published his work. He did, however, send a draft to Goethe who saw the potential of this new kind of storytelling.

science Comics in 1930's America were mass-produced, printed on cheap stock and featured mostly male power fantasies (Superheroes) and slapstick humor.

After the second World War, comics increasingly featured horror, crime, romance stories, aimed at a more mature audience. They often contained graphic violence, which led to incresingly loud critisism. Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham famously linked reading comics to crime in his book Seduction of the Innocent (1954). (His findings later turned out to be mostly made-up)

Comics were an easy thing to point the finger at when it came to problems with young people. After public court hearings against comics the government threatened to censor comics. Publishers eventually established Comics Code (1954) to prevent that. The code contained rules on what could and could not be done in comics, such as:

Full Code

American comics caused a huge public outcry when they were first introduced in Britain. The National Teachers' Union and the Archbishop of Canterbury pushed the government to create the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act (1955), which banned violence in comics.

In the mid-1960s people started collecting, and thereby validating comic books.

Why Make a Graphic Novel

getting beyond the first ten minutes

Ways to get into the industry

22 panels Wally Woods: 22 panels that always work

Comics seem to keep getting stuck in the same ten minutes - Art Spiegelman

Art Spiegelman: Breakdowns (1977)

Unlike other mediums, comics give one person full creative control. This allows for much more experimental stuff to happen.

Ilya: Room for Love

oscar zarate: the park frederik peters

Seth: George Sprott

seth barbershop fake story

comics allow you to flick through different fragments of time, place in many directions you look back and forth across the page document literacy, not just one panel at a time allows you to build a network of ideas

betsy and me, jack cole integrte narration and dialogue

jimmy corrigan by chris ware naughty pete by charles forbell

howard ferguson, the newsboy legion

Dash Shaw: Bottomless Belly Button

"OCEAN SOUNDS" Not afraid of showing and telling as opposed to "show don't tell"

Repeats characters multiple times in the same frame. Gianni De Luca & Hamlet: Thinking Outside The Box

miller Frank Miller and Lynn Varley: Elektra Lives Again

little nemo in slumberland by winsor mcCay

polyp David Mazzucchelli: Asterios Polyp (2009)

676 apparitions of killofer by killofer

posy simmonds oppposing images with extedned passages of text

Distinctive drawing styles for different characters

different typography, different baloon shapes

david hughes

Hendrik Dorgathen: Spacedog

Manga techniques

A figure is swimming, seen from below the water's surface. Around and below them, a swarm of large fish swims toward the viewer. Daisuke Igarashi: Children of the Sea

[...] Combination of iconic characters with unusually realistic backgrounds [...] allows readers to mask themselves in a character and safely enter a sensually stimulating world'.

Scott McCloud on Tintin


What do you think the future of comics might look like?

Where are you drawing th line between comics and graphic novels, and do you think we need the distinction at all?

It's marketing, but allowed comics to get into unis museums and shit we dont really need it