In the midst of a global pandemic, almost nothing is proceeding as normal. And yet, on a dim October morning, the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist announcement went brightly, briefly and virtually streaming into homes and revealing the five books that had moved one step further towards winning Canada’s largest and arguably most prestigious literary award.
In some ways, however, this business as usual was a disappointment. After all, the Giller recently changed its submission guidelines to allow graphic novels to be submitted to the prize, and even more recently announced that a graphic novel was, indeed, included on the longlist — Clyde Fans, by highly acclaimed Canadian author and cartoonist Seth.
But after raking in praise and aplomb for featuring a graphic novel on its longlist for the first time, the Giller — like so many other book prizes — just couldn’t bring itself to put Clyde Fans on the shortlist. Business as usual, indeed.
Graphic novels, nonfiction, and poetry stand as one of those topics in the wider industry of publishing that seem to be continually “new,” strangely needing to be “introduced” over and over.
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As Publishing Perspectives readers know, France’s Festival d’Angoulême recently had its 47th iteration and other festivals and fairs in world publishing are widening their embrace of the many variants of visually developed storytelling that fall into the sector.
It’s harder to determine whether headway is being made in terms of broadening consumer interest in graphical work. While there’s a growing interest in it for purposes of sales and artistic latitude, the world of comics and other graphically developed forms seems to have the sort of appeal that black-and-white photography has: you either like it or you don’t. And while one image or one narrative work might surprise a non-believer from time to time, the general preference for mostly visual or mostly textual work may not be as fungible as we might wish.
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Have a look at this. Here are two few frames from Melanie Leclerc’s 2019 graphic memoir, Contacts (Mécanique generales, 2019), in which her dad hands over his beloved Leica. As he introduces his daughter to the nature of the camera and how to think of foreseeing a shot, he tells her that framing is the key to the best work.
“Framing means choosing,” he says, “out of everything it’s possible to see, what’s going to stay, what’s going to tell the story.”
And so it is with textual editing—framing, if you will. What an editor leaves out, what she or he chooses to include, is at the heart of good narrative, whether in fiction or nonfiction.
PG just can’t get into graphic novels. He doesn’t mind a handful of illustrations in a printed book, although he doubts he would note their absence in most cases.
In the graphic example in the OP, he doesn’t perceive any greater interest or clarity by either omitting the graphic entirely or inserting a simple focus rectangle inside a framing rectangle if the author feels the reader won’t understand a description. PG doesn’t emotionally or intellectually engage with the crude drawings of a guy with a hat and glasses.
PG has his visual side, as long-time inhabitants of TPV know from the photos he inserts in posts from time to time, but graphic novels still don’t do anything for him.
For the avoidance of doubt, PG is happy to have people writing and publishing graphic novels and wishes them success in their creative endeavors, but he suspects he is not alone in not likely being or becoming part of their readership.
A San Diego-based comic publisher has figured out a novel way to actually get people to read the Mueller report: Turn it into a graphic novel.
IDW Publishing announced on Friday that it is publishing “The Mueller Report: Graphic Novel,” an illustrated version of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Justin Eisinger, who’s editing the book, believes comic illustrations are the key to drawing more eyeballs to the report’s findings.
“This really is the easiest way to get people to actually read it,” he told HuffPost.
Artist Shannon Wheeler, who is doing the book with journalist Steve Duin, said he was surprised by how “readable” Mueller’s report actually is — and says real-life characters like President Donald Trump, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon are “straight out of Dick Tracy.”
Wheeler promises a combination of factual information (there will be footnotes referencing the report throughout the book) and a lot of real-life hilarity.
I’ve been waiting a long time for the Alita:Battle Angel movie, which is based on the Gunnm manga series by Yukito Kishiro. I fell in love with the nine-volume epic, which was called Battle Angel Alita in its English versions, when I first discovered the series in high school.
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Battle Angel Alita takes place in the Scrap Yard, a world of junk and trash where violence is rampant due to a non-existent police force. Crime has to be regulated by a group of bounty hunters. Above the city floats a huge aerial metropolis called Tiphares, where no ground dweller is allowed to visit.
We meet Alita first as a damaged cyborg who only has her brain and face intact. Dr. Ido, a cybernetics specialist, is the one who rescues her, becoming a paternal figure in the process. He has a mysterious circular mark on his forehead, signifying his connection to Tiphares.
Due to Alita’s memory loss, she is learning all about life again, and her youthful curiosity is part of the first volume’s charm. At the same time, she possesses lethal martial arts skills that only a soldier from Earth’s dark past can possess. That clash between the soldier in her and what remains of her humanity is part of what makes her arc so compelling. Alita handles her post-apocalyptic enemies with a violence that makes poetry out of her fighting skills, punctuated by bursts of calming “cuteness.” Here I refer to the cuddly smiles and youthful ripostes in the middle of all-out fighting and viciously gory mutilations, which add levity to offset the seriousness of the material.
The opening volume details Alita’s origin story and her path to becoming a hunter-warrior. The main conflict revolves around Alita’s fight against Makaku, a mutated goliath that devours human brains for the endorphin stimulants they provide. He’s the first villain to put Alita to the test after she easily disposes of an earlier slew of criminals. Makaku literally crushes Alita’s body, forcing Dr. Ido to flee with her remains.