Graphic Novels are NOT "Comics"...

…because they are sometimes not very funny.

At an early age, I appreciated graphic novels as an alternative form of literature. I was an avid collector of Amar Chitra Katha titles. I daresay an entire generation of children, inside and outside of India, got much of their religious education (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Jain) from these titles.

The first series I read that crossed the border into what is today considered “graphic novel” was the excellent V for Vendetta by Alan Moore. My roommate bought each episode as it came out in the mid 80’s. The story of a mysterious saboteur in an Orwellian imagination of England, it is now a major motion picture starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving (who played Agent Smith in The Matrix and Elrond in The Lord of the Rings).

Indeed, several modern motion pictures have found inspiration in graphic novels. I attribute this to the fact that the supply of graphic novels is sufficient to feed the industry with high-quality storylines that also exploit motion picture special effects.

By far the greatest graphic novel I have read is From Hell also by Alan Moore with art by Eddie Campbell. This is not a work for children—it is best described as historical fiction about Jack the Ripper. It is a masterpiece of horror, combining stunning pen-and-ink drawing with a rich, well-researched plot, and composition that truly defines a new standard for the medium. The movie starred Johnny Depp and Heather Graham.

Also written by Alan Moore are The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume 1 and Volume 2. The movie starred Sean Connery.

You may not have known it, but Road to Perdition started out as a graphic novel before being made into an excellent motion picture starring Tom Hanks.

Winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize, Maus is also excellent. This semiautobiographical (Art Spiegelman is not really a mouse) work details how the author’s father survived the holocaust. A parallel storyline involves the author and his father reconciling the vast differences in their life experience.

Less memorable works written by Alan Moore include (ranked in order of my preference)

  1. Promethea
  2. The Swamp Thing, which spawned a TV series
  3. Watchmen, and
  4. Top Ten

Most recently, I have been reading The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. (Gaiman is also the author of American Gods, winner of the 2002 Hugo Award for best novel.)

I also enjoyed the art in The Yellow Jar.

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Updated at: 9 October 2005 4:10 PM

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