Words Without Borders February: Framing Stories in Graphic Novels

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From Publishing Perspectives:

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.

. . . .

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.

. . . .

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.

From Melanie Leclerc’s ‘Contacts,’ an excerpt in the February 2020 edition of ‘Words Without Borders,’ translated by Sean Gasper Bye

“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.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

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.

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