Great starting point for students seeking an introduction to the theme and the critical discussions surrounding it.
The graphic novel is arguably the greatest publishing success story in the last twenty-five years. The meteoric rise of the graphic novel serves as a barometer of the sea-change in pop culture as the one-time haven of “geeks” to the mainstream, as personal computers and the Internet became an integral part of daily life for the masses. From the invading army of comics and costume enthusiasts who consume the city of San Diego every summer to attend Comic-Con International to the millions tuning in weekly for TV’s incarnation of Robert Kirkman’s comics series, The Walking Dead, as well as the billions in box-office receipts generated by comics-based movies prove that comics, along with science fiction and fantasy, have gone viral.
In its original form, the graphic novel was conceived of as exactly what its name implies: a novel-length story told in captioned panels of art. The current incarnation, however, is principally a series of individual issues of comic books, presenting a single storyline, and collected and reproduced as a single, oversized paperback volume.
Critical Insights: The Graphic Novel offers an examination and analysis of the contemporary graphic novel as literature. Specific attention is paid to the use of narrative genre in the graphic novel (e.g. the superhero graphic novel, the crime narrative graphic novel, the horror graphic novel, and the realistic/fantastic graphic novel). Works discussed include the most important and most frequently discussed graphic novels published during the past three decades, including Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, The Crow by J.O’Barr, Sin City: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller, The Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner, A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories by Will Eisner, Maus by Art Spiegelman, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, and Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth.
The essays collected in Critical Insights: The Graphic Novel delve deeply into the background, history and critical development of graphic novels, which have altered the landscape of the comics medium permanently.
Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:
- About This Volume
- Critical Context: Original Introductory Essays
- Critical Readings: Original In-Depth Essays
- Further Readings
- Detailed Bibliography
- Detailed Bio of the Editor
- General Subject Index