I can’t lie. I’ve never really read any graphic novels. Not to my memory anyway. But not too long ago I had a conversation about their literary merits. The opposing view was that they fall under a different category and don’t “count” – for lack of a better word – as reading or books. (Mind you, this was with a teacher friend, and I disagree).
In a 2010 article for the ALAN review, assistant professor of English Education at University of Arkansas,Fayetteville, Sean P. Connors defines the professional debate, illustrates common reasons for resistance to including the genre as a viable literary form, and suggests that not only can graphic novels encourage further interest in various literary formats, but also teach high-level thinking, stimulate discussion, and foster appreciation of literary and art forms of various styles.
The truth is graphic novels are like any other creative art – there are good and bad representations that are capable of moving readers, making social commentary, and inspiring reflection and examination of the reader’s life and the world around him or her.
The composition of a graphic novel incorporates all the same elements as traditional literature – character development, plot, theme, tone, point of view, motifs, symbol, etc. So why shouldn’t it be recognized in the same way that traditional literature is? In comparison, let’s consider how long it took for the Academy of Motion Pictures to give animated feature film the same recognition as traditional, live action. And how many of the same points were argued in that debate?