Friday, April 18, 2008

The Same But Different

When I refer to my book, I call it a graphic novel instead of a comic book. Usually people equate a comic book with superheroes. “So your book is about a team of psychics with superpowers fighting the occult?” they ask. “No, my book is a supernatural thriller about a group of psychics solving paranormal cases.” That, or some sort of permutation, is usually my answer. I guess the separation comes from the need to move away from the stigma that comic books are childish, crude, and lacking any artistic value. I often wonder why this is the general consensus in the west. In Japan, it is a valid and cherished entertainment venue with no gender, class, or age limits. Even in Europe, comic books are generally more mature. But largely thanks to films, American comic books have started to gain some modicum of respect by the general public.

Most people are shocked when I tell them that “Road to Perdition,” “A History of Violence”, and “Persepolis,” are all based on graphic novels. It is seemingly hard to believe anything with any substance can come out of the two-dimensional realm of sequential art. In my opinion, thanks to the internet age, comic books are the last bastion of artistic nihilism. It’s relatively cheap, it’s a visual medium, it can be done by one person, and it can find an audience regardless of commercial outlets.

There is a notable distinction between a comic book and a graphic novel. Post-Will Eisner, the term gained popularity in describing more mature, complex stories that shared the same storytelling medium of traditional comics. Some people might argue that it is just a matter of semantics. I firmly believe it is a matter of essence. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out