Digital Graphic Novels

I have always love comic books.  I can still remember the first one that I ever got, a random copy of Excalibur. (a kind of combination avengers and x-men set in England.  They had Nightcrawler and Shadow Cat on the team.) Ever since then I’ve been hooked.  As Ive grown, my tastes have changed.  I still enjoy the conventional super hero books, but I’ve also expanded into more adult themed areas My personal favorite collections are Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, and Y: The Last May by Brian K Vaughn and Pia Gurerra.  One of the things that I have been looking forward to is teaching graphic novels in the classroom.  Thanks to technology there are a variety of ways to read a graphic novel beyond the traditional paper draft. Of all the “written” mediums the comic book is generally credited with being uniquely American.  the first was published back in the 1930’s and was a collection of newspaper comics.  Since then the genre has grown to include every type of story imigianable.  Early books focused on western and “true crime” stories.  Later the stories expanded to include science fiction and horror.  Eventually the superhero came along and changed comics and pop culture forever.  Even if you have never read a comic book, everyone knows who Spiderman, Batman, and Superman are. Sadly, most of the popular superhero stuff is owned by active companies who charge to view their product.  However, if you are interested in reading some of the old out of circulation stuff an excellent place to start is The Digital Comic Museum.  This is a site that has collected a lot of the golden age comics (1935-1967) that have gone out of print.  They did a simple scan/picture of each page and uploaded them for you to view, TOTALLY FREE!!!  There are thousands of comics to view and the stories contain anything that you might be wanting to read. What the Digital Comic Museum has done is the simplest way of digitizing comics.  It is the most common form out there. The pages are simply digitized in some way and put out there for you to read. If you are looking for digital versions of more recent comics, the three main publishers, Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse have web pages where you can download their material.  Some of it is offered for free, but a lot will cost you some money. (usually less than it would to obtain a physical copy though)  Another great place to get digital versions of graphic novels is on Amazon. You can just by a kindle version and download it to whatever you want and take it anywhere you go. Another way that graphic novels have been presented in a digital way is through motion comics.  Motion comics are kind of like if comic books and cartoons had a baby.  These consist of starting with the original comic art and adding motion, usually by using subtle camera moves to revel the whole picture.  The action is usually contained to what is on  the drawn page and is not shown in the conventional “cartoon” way. An good example of motion comics that I found is a motion comic made from the Watchmen Graphic novel.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, Watchmen came out in 1986 and was written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons.  Released in 12 monthly installments, Watchmen is regarded as one of the most important graphic novels ever written.  It has crossed over and is listed on the top lists including Time magazine’s 2005 list of the top 100 best novels of all time. To coincide with the release of the movie adaptation a motion comic was also released.  It uses the original art and text in telling the story. The motion comic is not perfect, all the voices are preformed by one person, but it offers up a great example of how graphic novels have been adapted to a digital medium. Here is the first chapter of the book.  All 12 are available on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLdqKIj3-A0 There are a variety of motion comics on YouTube that anyone can watch for free.  Many of them are from the superhero genre, but that does not make them any less interesting. For my taste, nothing can compare to hold the traditional print version of my graphic novels.  But, with the advances in technology, we now have new ways to present this material to our students in digital ways that they can relate to, and build meaning from.

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4 Responses to Digital Graphic Novels

  1. marybethlillian says:

    I had never read a comic or graphic novel until I entered the English program here at Western. Dr. Morrow first introduced me to graphics in his New Media class. Then, I realized that many teachers incorporate graphics into their literature classes. While I haven’t found a huge interest in this genre, there are some here and there that I really enjoy. I just finished “Daytripper” for Dr. Allison’s class, and I really liked it. I can definitely see the value in teaching graphics. I also think some students who may not have an interest in reading could find an interest in graphics. Incorporating graphics into the classroom is probably pretty necessary. I haven’t done any exploring with the digitization of graphics, but I did check out your link to the motion comic for “Watchmen.” I read “Watchmen” in Morrow’s class, and didn’t care for it much. But, I became very familiar with its style. I like how the motion video maintains the style and form of the original graphic, while adding an element of motion and audio. It definitely seems like it would be a good supplement to reading a graphic novel in class.

  2. zxxkimxxz says:

    Graphic Novels are wonderful. I am surprised and delighted that Times included Watchmen in their top 100 novels of all time. It definitely has great literary value. I have a copy of it, V for Vendetta, Daytripper, Persepolis,and Blankets on my bookshelves at home. I remember being introduced to graphic novels in high school. At first, I thought they were just really big collections of silly comics like Spiderman or X-men (though don’t get me wrong, I think some issues of those super hero comics have great value too). I was amazed to see them for what they really were; a marriage of images and poetic language, a story made stronger through bright colors or dark lines.
    I think graphic novels work well for both struggling and advanced readers. The images will draw in reluctant readers and help them gain context clues through the images. For advanced readers, they can look deeper into the images chosen, what is being presented and how, to find a deeper meaning in the text.
    There have also been a lot of great graphic adaptations of novels and plays. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a popular novel that hasn’t been put to graphics. I really like the idea of the ease of access of digital graphic novels too. I had never seen an animated graphic quite like the ones you shared either.

  3. Because you all know I love my NPR, there was a great piece on Fresh Air yesterday that addresses comic books and comic book creators. Wonder Woman is awesome and here’s an interview with Jill Lepore who wrote “The Secret History of Wonder Woman.” Apparently her creator was inspired by suffragists and center folds: http://www.npr.org/2014/10/27/359078315/the-man-behind-wonder-woman-was-inspired-by-both-suffragists-and-centerfolds.

  4. ptdinardi says:

    I didn’t realize I liked graphic novels until I was exposed to them in college. Now, they are the type of books I can not buy enough of. I have been especially convinced of their importance after seeing their popularity in my sixth grade block classroom. KIDS LOVE THEM. I have several different graphic novels on my Christmas list for this year. I agree that these novels are very important to have in the classroom. They are great for reluctant readers. One interesting thing I have found from my time spent on Amazon books is that their are a lot of graphic novels that accompany young adult books. For example, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a great book that has a graphic novel that accompanies it. I think this is a great resource for students. They may be reluctant and decide to read the graphic novel and progress to the full text novel.

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