Snapping the Undertone of “Graphic Novels”


I recently switched my major from a hard science to Communications and Digital Studies. Now into my junior year, I’m a little tight on time in terms of completing my new found major. While registering for classes, ENGL 386: The Graphic Novel popped onto my radar as a class that seemed 1) interesting and 2) a major elective. I enrolled. 

When my father, a scientist, asked me what classes I was taking this semester, my first inclination was to pass over saying “Oh I’m taking a class on graphic novels.” I was afraid of what he would think! His hard earned money paying for me to take a class on comic books? I can’t imagine he’d be too happy.

The terms “graphic novel” and “comics” tend to have a slight undertone that says “nerd” or “not educational.” How can one learn from essentially a child’s picture book on steroids? At least that was my first thought.

Now, after a week of classes, I realize that graphic novels are more than an adolescent past time, but rather a form of art. Our class recently read Die Stadt by Frans Masereel and while reading it, I didn’t feel as if I was reading a comic. It was as if I was flipping through 100 individual works of art. Novels such as Persepolis are perfect examples of comics that are not only graphic novels, but also a legitimate story line like a normal novel.

If someone mentioned graphic novels to me before, my first inclination was to think Japanese manga. If they referred to comics; Sunday cartoons. Neither of these two are in much of a high standing to me.

There are plenty of classes I think should be mandatory. The Graphic Novel is not one of them. However, I wish people would enroll in the course. I think it would give them a whole new perspective on the whole concept of graphic novels. It started before me, it will finish after me, but the stereotype of comics are bound to be broken soon.