Comics and Graphic Novels

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Comics and Graphic Novels

Flattening is where we think "this is the way it is" rather than how it might be. Flattening reduces our potential to something less than what it can be. Education does not have to be flat, not the way we think. Rethinking, through comics and graphic novels, can add an exploratory / experiential dimension to learning.

Comics are subversive in the way they can be used to integrate a diversity of topics, and discussions. Three defining characteristics of comics
◊ Juxtaposition of images and text produces closure through reader interaction
◊ Dual nature of comics promotes parts that are read together, like in larger works of art. We can layer different times together, side-by-side dialogs
◊ Visual/Verbal bleeding where images suggest text which suggest images. The visual and verbal collaborate, indicating meaning that is more than what either alone might be. Comics can handle the tangental, the paralinguistic, in ways the verbal or visual cannot.

Defining Terms

Graphic novels are not generally considered "comics" or "comic books" even though they employ many characteristics from both mediums. The basic characteristics of cartoons, comics, and comic books, and how they inform graphic novels, are outlined below.

Cartoons

are a visual approach to communication that generally involves a simplified or reduced-detail drawing of a person or situation, often combined with words and meant to focus on specific details, or messages. The result: amplification through simplification (Scott McCloud Understanding Comics 30).

Comics

(or, comic strips) are a medium that may employ but at the same time transcend the cartoon visual style to tell an expanded, often continuing, serial story through the use of juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information or to produce aesthetic response in the viewer (McCloud Understanding Comics 9).

Comic Books

are serial stories told with sequential images, usually combined with text, often printed on newsprint, collected, and stapled between covers. Most comic books are published monthly and are intended for quick distribution and consumption. They tell only a portion of a larger, longer, continuing story.

Graphic Novels

are long-form works in the medium of comics noted for their ability to juxtapose images, text, visual rhetoric, and multiple literacies over a perceived timeframe to create a believable and sustainable narrative engagement with the reader. Graphic novels cover a range of forms and origins. On one hand, they are often collected serial comics published in a higher quality format—slick paper, additional features, perfect binding, paperback covers. On the other hand, graphic novels can be purposeful long-form work in the medium of comics where the author/illustrator desires to tell a complete, deeper, richer story than is possible through traditional comics forms.

Key Characteristics of Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are longer because they expand on comic book conventions of sequential, visual narrative. They tell a complete story by providing, in one unit, a beginning, a middle, and an end to the narrative.

Graphic novels strive for a simple, pared-down style and avoid tricky angles and perspectives (Charles McGrath, "Not Funnies" The New York Times Magazine 11 July 2004: 30). This is a conscious attempt to put narrative first, and to distance graphic novels from the more mainstream eye-candy associated with comics and juvenile literature. This same process has played out in photography, film, and music as each strived to evolve itself into a high art form.

Graphic novels tend to have authorial integrity—a unique vision—often absent in comics. Rather than produced assembly-line style, graphic novels are often the work of one artist/writer striving to create something substantial and uniquely their own.

Graphic novels are often written for mature readers. Their themes are often more introspective and may revise or reinvigorate a traditional / familiar theme in a new or compelling way. Additionally, the language / visual images / subjects of graphic novels may be darker, and to some, offensive.

Noted comic writer and illustrator Jennifer Abel has produced a two-page answer to the question What Is A Graphic Novel? available at her website, www.artbabe.com.

Comics

Comics > References

Eisner, Will. Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices of the World's Most Popular Art Form.

Fieffer, Jules. The Great Comic Book Heroes.
A semi-psychological and autobiographical examination of the medium from its earliest days.

Jones, Gerard. Men of Tomorrow: Geek, Gansters, and the Birth of the Comic Book.
Examines the history of creators, publishers, and more of comics.

Kunzle, David. The Early Comic Strip. University of California Press, 1973.
2 volumes. Historical background for early comic strips, picture stories, and narratives strips in European broadsheets. Presents the art of comics to a non-academic audience well.

Sabin, Roger. Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art.

Vanum, Robin. The Language of Comics: Word and Image.

Wright, Bradford. Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Comics > Digital

A Comic Book Lover's Guide to Going Digital
Lays out some great ways to get started reading comic books digitally. LEARN more.

Comics > Graphic or Visual Narrative/Language

Brunetti, Ivan, editor. An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories. Yale University Press.
Brilliantly edited by cartoonist Brunetti, this two volume set features everyone who is anyone in the post-underground world of comics for adults, including up-to-the minute new work. With both full color and black and white stories, the Anthology has something for every level of interest, but makes for a particularly fine introductory book to the many possibilities of the medium.
Volume 1
Volume 2

Cohn, Neil. What Is Visual Language?
A website maintained by Cohn, graduate student in pyschology at Tufts University, features his research on the cognitive and linguistic processes behind comics and how sequential images can become, literally, a language, just like words in a sequence. LEARN more.

Church, Kevin, Ed Cunard, and Chris Tamarri. Graphic Language
A blog dedicated to interviews on the subject of comics: "What we talk about when we talk about comics." LEARN more.

Eisner, Will. Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative
Based on Eisner's course at the New York School of Visual Arts.

Vanum, Robin. The Language of Comics: Word and Image.

The Visual Language of Graphic Novels
New York Times Interactive Feature on Graphic Novels. LEARN more.

Comics > Collections in WSU Library

Two sets of comics collected by English faculty member Paul Brians, now cataloged and available through the Library's Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections.
A comprehensive set of underground comix
A specialized collection of comic books about nuclear war (which relates to the collection of nuclear war fiction also found in the library)
The online finding aid is listed under "Manuscripts" HERE
Click on "Brians, Paul Comics Collection, 1950-2004" Or, go directly to the collection HERE

Women Cartoonists

Robbins, Trina. The Great Women Cartoonists. Watson-Guptill Productions, 2001.

Robins, Trina. A Century of Women Cartoonists. Northampton, MA: Kitchen Sink Press, 1993.

Robbins, Trina and Catherine Yronwode. Women and Comics. Fosterville, CA: Eclipse Books, 1985.

Graphic Novels

Graphic Novels > Exemplary

2024
Written and illustrated by Ted Rall. NBM Books.
Any notion of social conscious and civic engagement are completely eradicated from the future world depicted by Ted Rall, a world where the combined nations of Canada, The United States, and Mexico are run by corporations rather than governments. No individual thought is allowed. Mass-mediated group-think, powered by a constant barrage of advertisements, slogans, and web television programming dictating what citizens (consumers) want, need, and where to get both. Much like the dystopian George Orwell novel, 1984, Rall's graphic novel focuses on the dangers associated with the absence of thought and encourages readers to take a stand, to speak out, constantly, in order to be heard.

Adventures of Unemployed Man,The
Erich Origen and Gan Golan
During the Great Depression, the comic industry invented superheroes to battle aliens and other threats. Now, during the Great Recession those same superheroes are facing very different challenges: Rising unemployment. Expanding personal debt prisons. The highest income inequality of all time. Down but not out, these superheroes struggle to make their way in a world where the old truths still apply . . . but only for those at the very top. Against incredible odds, jobless crusader Unemployed Man and his sidekick Plan B embark on a heroic search for work-and quickly find themselves waging an epic battle against The Just Us League, a dastardly group of supervillains including The Human Resource, Toxic Debt Blob, Pink Slip and The Invisible Hand. The link above leads to the official website where you can preview several pages from this graphic novel.

Americus
Written by M.K. Reed, illustrated by Jonathan Hill. First Second.
Neil Barton, a teenager growing up in Oklahoma City, fights to keep his favorite fantasy series, The Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde, in the public library. This web-based comic speaks well to the ideas of censorship, book banning, and knee-jerk reactions by "concerned citizens."

Barefoot Gen
Written and illustrated by Keiji Nakazawa. Last Gasp.
The story of a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

Pride of Baghdad
Written by Brian K. Vaughan; Illustrated by Niko Henrichon. Vertigo.
The story of a pride of lions who escaped from the Baghdad Zoo during the American bombing in 2003. Their story raises questions about the true meaning of freedom: can it be given, or is it only earned through self-determination.

Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda
Written and illustrated by Jean-Philippe Stassen. First Second.
A difficult story about the gruesome genocide in Rwanda. A masterful narrative about one of the darkest periods in human history. A portion of the graphic novel is available to read online.

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation
Adapted by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón. Hill and Wang.
The 9/11 Commission Report is the official report of the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks. This graphic novel is an abridged graphic novel adaptation of the report. Read the first chapter online. See also "The Sept. 11 Commission Report as Graphic Novel" NPR interview.

Tuesday
Henrik Rehr. Kim-Rehr Productions.
Originally published as a two-issue comic, but later combined with Tribeca Sunset Part 1 and 2 to form the graphic novel Tribeca Sunset. Recounts the author's experience on 11 September 2001 living just blocks from the catastrophe. This is the first detailed, long form narrative by someone living through the events of the day. Read an excellent review, "I Can See It Now," by Time.com comics columnist Andrew D. Arnold.

Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95
Written and illustrated by Joe Sacco. Fantographic Books.
During the war between Serbs and Bosnians in what was once Yugoslavia, Gorazade was declared a safe haven for nearly 60,000 Bosnians. Far from safe, their lives were in constant danger as Gorazade was cut off behind enemy lines, protected only by UN forces while the rest of the world turned its back. Joe Sacco was there and his particular style of graphic reporting is spot on. The link above leads to a review in The Guardian.

Palestine
Written and illustrated by Joe Sacco. Fantographic Books.
This is Sacco's breakthrough book of graphic journalism, the graphic novel where he sets the standard for navigating socially and politically sensitive subject matter using the comic medium. A collection of nine stories first published in comic form in 1993 in which Sacco portrays the history and plight of Palestianians struggling for dignity and survival in the Isreali occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The link above leads to an interview with Joe Sacco published in Al Jazerra, the world's first news channel headquarted in the Middle East with the stated objective "to give voice to untold stories, promote debate, and challenge established perceptions." Read another interview with Joe Sacco in January Magazine.

Louis Real
Written and illustrated by Chester Brown. Drawn & Quarterly.
The biography of the nineteenth century Métis leader whose struggle to win rights for his people led to violent rebellion on the Canadian frontier. The link above leads to the Drawn & Quarterly catalog where you can download a sample of the graphic novel as a .PDF file. Time.com interview with Chester Brown.

King
Written and illustrated by Ho Che Anderson. Fantographic Books.
A biography of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., originally published in three separate volumes and now available in a collected special edition. The link above leads to the Ho Che Anderson page in the Fantographic catalog. Follow the link to "The Special Edition" and download the 18-page .PDF preview. Learn more at Ho Che Anderson website.

Troubled Souls
Written by Garth Ennis; Illustrated by John McCea. Fleetway.
Two men and their lives during the seemingly endless conflict between Northern Ireland and Britain. The link above leads to the Scans_Daily website where you can view several pages from this graphic novel. Audio interviews with Garth Ennis that you can stream or download.

When the Wind Blows
Written and illustrated by Raymond Briggs. Penguin.
Using government-issued pamphlets, an elderly couple builds a shelter and prepares for nuclear war. They soon realize that the information provided by their government is worthless. A chilling and devastating book that provides as eloquent a protest against nuclear proliferation and nuclear war as anyone would want, or need. An animated film adaptation of the graphic novel was released in 1986 with a soundtrack produced and composed by Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), David Bowie, and others. More information is available at the Roger Waters website.

Stuck Rubber Baby
Written and illustrated by Howard Cruse. Paradox Fiction.
The story of a young man growing up in a rural Southern town during the 1960s. In addition to the passion and violence associated with the Viet Nam War and Civil Rights, each of which touch his life in significant ways, Toland Polk must also fight a more personal battle, to accept that he is gay. Although relatively unknown, and very much underrated, Stuck Rubber Baby is one of the most important graphic novels ever written. A web adaptation of the printed teaser promoting the book's first publication in 1995 is available HERE.

Shooting War
Written by Anthony Lappe, illustrated by Dan Goldman. Smith Magazine.
A video blogger becomes an overnight sensation when he is thrust into capturing the fighting in Baghdad, Iraq. This graphic novel presents a satirical narrative on American media and its view of foreign policy. As a result, readers may question the ethics of their country, their media, and the hidden agendas behind the conflict in Iraq. This link takes you to the original, unedited online webcomic. This material was later collected, and augmented, and then published as a traditional printed book.

Supernatural Law
Written and illustrated by Batton Lash. Exhibit A Press.
Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, is a law firm representing supernatural misfits. Oftentimes, however, the law is not the best solution, as when a woman murdered by her husband returns as a zombie. What at first would appear the perfect case for the prosecution—the victim can identify her murderer%#8212;runs afoul of the law which cannot be changed for this unique situation.

Zombie Waffe
Written by Malin Falch
This graphic novel provides an interesting window on our course themes of social conscious and civic engagement by their apparent absence. The Likasi Acute Rabies Syndrome (LARS) virus has been around long enough for zombie outbreaks to become commonplace. These outbreaks have been limited to third world countries and so the United States and Europe feel a sense of safety, detachment, and apathy. But, a Class 2 outbreak in the Congo becomes apocalyptic and may force the people of other nations to consider social conscious and civic engagement as they work to keep their countries/communities alive, or ignore others and try to survive alone.

Zahra's Paradise
Written and illustrated by "Amir and Khalil. First Second.
Following protests in Iran in 2009, Mehdi, a young protestor disappears. His mother and brother, a blogger and story narrator, search the streets and morgues for any sign of Mehdi. As it progresses, the story explores many points of Iranian history, the secrecy surrounding the government, the lack of freedoms for its citizens, and the intense love of a mother for her son. A comment section is provided for each page and the author actively responds, even extends the narration to delve into events referenced in the story. New material every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Graphic Novels > Online

Digital graphic novels are available online in a variety of forms and formats, with which you should be familiar in order to best inform your own endeavors. The following readings are available online and represent a variety of reading formats. Special requirements are noted. Unless for subsequent issues in a series, these texts are generally available free of charge. No purchase of special reading devices is required but without the ability to read these example texts, student experience will not be as rewarding, or meaningful.

Graphic Novels > Online > Traditional panel

La Muse
Adi Tantimedh and Hugo Petrus. Big Head Press.
The story of two sisters: Susan and Libby La Muse. Susan is a sexy, fun-loving political activist for the environment, human rights and an end to poverty. She is also an alien. When her extraordinary abilities are accidentally caught on video, she suddenly finds herself the biggest celebrity in the world. Her straight-laced sister Libby is desperate to keep the world from finding out they're aliens, and becomes her agent to keep her wild hedonistic ways under control. But Susan has other ideas . . .

The Hook
by Mike Baron Gabe Eltaeb. Big Head Press.
When music is outlawed, musicians will learn to kick ass. Science fiction rocks.

The Probability Broach
Written by L. Neil Smith; Illustrated by Scott Bieser. Big Head Press.
The story of Detective Win Bear who, while investigating the murder of a physicist, is accidentally blown sideways in time—to a world where the air is clean, both poverty and government are practically non-existent, and everybody carries guns! The promise of libertarianism for a more peaceful, prosperous world. Includes talking gorillas, parallel worlds, and lots of action.

Breakfast of the Gods
Written and illustrated by Brendan Douglas Jones
A three-part webcomic epic by Brendon Douglas Jones featuring some very familiar faces from your breakfast table.

Heroes: Graphic Novel

One chapter for each episode of the NBC television series, now approaching 200. Read online in an interactive format, or download a printable version in .PDF format.

Graphic Novels > Online > Slide show / viewer

NYC2123 Dayender
Written by Chad Allen; Illustrated by Paco Allen
In 2054 a massive tsunami devastates Manhattan. The island's bridges and tunnels are destroyed. Two years of riots follow. Outlaw barge cities from in the waters around Manhattan, trafficking in illegal cybernetic body modifications and open source drugs. In 2065 the construction of a 20-meter-high barrier, known simply as "The Wall," encircling what is left of Manhattan is completed and martial law is declared. A sense of normalcy returns to parts of Manhattan, but the barge cities continue to thrive and the neighborhoods above 59th Street remain lawless and squalid. Small bands of mercenary hackers and cyborg street fighters, "nano-mobs," arise out of this chaos. They operate outside the law and without protection from the city's crime bosses. Read online as a single panel slide show. Also available as a download for Sony Playstation Portable (PSP). Source files are available for download as well, as is the opportunity to translate, mashup, and distribute freely. Everything covered by Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

Seven Extraordinary Things
Written and illustrated by Doug Lefler
This online graphic novel is updated daily to include Lefler's "general ramblings about art, life, visual narration and the film business." Check out the navigation on this one: direct access to all chapters, as well as sidebars on the numerous characters surrounding the main viewing window.

Roswell, Texas
Written by L. Neil Smith and Rex F. May; Illustrated by Scott Bieser. Big Head Press.
Imagine a world in which Texas never joined the United States, Nazi Germany conquered England but was held in check by a nuclear-armed Irish Republican Army, the Catholic Church has moved its headquarters to Brownsville, Texas, and Mexico is ruled by a neo-Aztec emperor in partnership with French colonial bureaucrats-in-exile. A special team of Texas Rangers races an array of spies, troops, and operatives of neighboring nations to a UFO crash site, and discover a truth even stranger than any of them could have imagined.

TimePeeper
Written by L. Neil Smith and Sherard Jackson. Big Head Press.
Three high school students from 2075 take a trip to the past to find the timepeeper, a time travel device, they lost earlier. Their time travels create a number of problems for their present, forcing them to think about the future implications of their present (or past) actions.

Graphic Novels > Online > Choose Your Own Adventure

Meanwhile
Written and illustrated by Shiga
Instead of one linear story, Meanwhile splits off into many different adventures. At times you will have a choice of which branch you would like to follow. Your choice may lead to success . . . or disaster. Read online as an interactive graphic novel.

"Choose Your Own Misadventure"
An example from the Pup comic strip (see below, under scrolling) that allows the reader to choose one of three, or all three, endings.

MS Paint Adventures
Andrew
A series of stories presented in a text-based choose your own adventure format. Readers advance through the pages by clicking links that read like commands they would type in a text prompt box. Generally the character will respond to that command on the next page. Readers can also provide suggestions for these commands through a suggestion box. Problem Sleuth is a good place to start. It is the longest adventure, and the only complete adventure to date. Homestuck is the current adventure and is interesting for its incorporation of music into the story. This music is collaboratively produced by the readers.

Graphic Novels > Online > Non-linear

Chaos PhD
The cover states, "This thrilling issue features . . . Monstrosities! Space travel! Fisticuffs! Penguins!" Also featured is the "Chaos Navigation Bar" which jumps you around the narrative depending on which wormhole you choose. Chaos in name and function, this one is really interesting!

Graphic Novels > Online > Scrolling

The Spiders
Written and illustrated by Patrick Sean Farley. Electric Sheep Comix.
An alternative history of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Al Gore is President of the United States and ordinary citizens can view the war through web cams carried by roving robotic "spiders" dispersed into Afghanistan by the U.S. Army. Available in both a scrolling format for iPad, iPhone, and other handheld devices, as well as a more traditional page-by-page format powered by WordPress (includes an RSS feed).

Zot! Online: Hearts and Minds
Written and illustrated by Scott McCloud
In this 2000 update, Scott McCloud reunites the cast of his 1980s superhero series and explores the dynamics of online comics.

Porphyria's Lover
Written and illustrated by Scott McCloud
McCloud's first online comic, and the first to use panel connectors he called "trails." An adaptation of the 1834 poem by Robert Browning.

Pup
A webcomic strip by Drew Weing that effectively uses horizontal and vertical scrolling. Several examples are available at this archive. See especially "Heat Death" for an incredible horizontal scrolling experience. Weing's comic is based on "Pup," a short-lived comic strip begun by Rudolph Wechsler 1921 and generally dismissed as a "Krazy-Kat" rip off.

The Awful Science Fair
by Jasen Lex
A number of experiments with one goal: "to bend the rules of sequential storytelling, illustration and computer coloring" according to Jasen Lex who utilizes collage art within some of his comics and modifies the traditional panel to allow it better to represent a more continuous movement through time. See especially "The Facts / The Truth" where Lex undertakes an introspection of his father's sudden death through the combination of newspaper clippings, drawings, and photographs. The other examples of Lex's work are equally interesting and informative.

E-merl.com
by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
Daniel Merlin Goodbrey is a leading comic creator experimenting with both fiction and comics in the more traditional webcomic form and what he calls a "hypercomics" format. His experiments are archived at his website, and each is worth looking at and considering.

NAWLZ
Stu Campbell
Combines text, illustration, music, animation, and interactivity into a panoramic, flash-based, side-scrolling panoramic digital graphic novel. Follows Harley Chambers as he explores the futuristic City of NAWLZ, engaging in overlaying virtual realities, mind control with experimental software, hallucinogenic drugs, and surgical upgrades to his brain. The dissolution between the real and the imaginary is significant with regard to digital culture, which we are coming to think of more and more as real. This is a pretty amazing experience!

Graphic Novels > Online > Flash

Apocamon
The Book of Revelation reinterpreted as manga. Requires a Flash 5 player to view.

The Killer
A stylized motion comic based on the graphic novel by Jacaman and Matz that offers a combination of animation, still images, selective movement, music, and sounds. The reader can interact with the story by clicking images and moving items around.

Outside the Box
Brendan Cahill
Beside the standard flash interface of clicking anywhere within one panel to advance to the next, readers can choose between several suggested soundtracks for each chapter. These soundtracks play in the background as readers advance through the narrative.

Graphic Novels > Online > Image Only, No Text

The Human Element
by David Bell
A very interesting example of the use of scale models and clay sculptures which are then photographed and presented as individual panels. The overall effect is the feeling of viewing life-sized environments.

Graphic Novels > iPhone

There are a number of graphic novels created or adapted for the iPhone. Some are free, some are not. Many experiment with user-specified navigation features. Here are some recommendations.

The Guild (3 volumes)
Umbrella Academy
The Eternal City
Written and drawn in monthly installments especially for iPhone and iPad
Robot 13
I, Robot #1
I, Robot #2
Adapted from Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now by Cory Doctrow
When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth
Adapted from Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now by Cory Doctrow
American Terror (3 volumes)
Evan Young's list of top comic and graphic novel apps for the iPhone

Young, Evan. The Carrier
(2009). The first complete original graphic novel to be published exclusively on the iPhone. The story unfolded, in real time, over the course of ten days, and involved the use of text messaging, email, and geolocation to facilitate the narrative development. Optional backstory information delivered by email. Ported to iPad but now, sadly, not available.
The Carrier website (NOTE: download options no longer functional)
The Carrier Facebook page (NOTE: still functional?)
Archival iPad version in .PDF format. Does not include the design, format, interactive, or extra features of the original iPhone version but it does provide the opportunity to read the graphic novel.

Seeing thru Walls
by Ozge Samanci. GPSComics.
A GPS-based comics story for iPhone and iPad that expands and explores the comic canvas and the idea of location-based comics. The reader must move through and interact with the physical world referred to in the comic. The reader must experience sensory details (smells, sounds, or objects) in the surrounding physical world in order to understand the meaning(s) of the comic frame provided on her smartphone. As a result, the reader becomes one of the characters in the story, thus increasing the opportunity for content creation.

Loyer, Erik. Upgrade Soul (2012). An immersive science fiction graphic novel for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The reading experience is complimented by fluid navigation, interactive accelerometer-driven 3D effects, and dynamic music. Panels slide and reshape dynamically as the reader swipes through the story.
Interview: Erik Loyer on Immersive Graphic Novel "Upgrade Soul"
Upgrade Soul trailer
Upgrade Soul preview
Generous Machine
Erik Loyer's website. Browse the "Projects" section and be amazed at the work Loyer has produced. See especially Technologies of History and explore the dense layers of mediation to which the assassination of John F. Kennedy has been subjected over the years.

Perfect Echo
by LightComics
A science fiction/cyberpunk digital comic developed specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch that incorporates sounds, music, and action. The Prologue is a free download from the iPhone app store. Additional chapters are for sale. The plot: In the future, music and other activities are forbidden. A group of people bound by destiny fight to change the rules of this oppressive system. The link above leads to a YouTube trailer.

Graphic Novels > iPad

A number of iPhone graphic novels have been adapted for the iPad. Others were purpose built to take advantage of the unique features of the iPad, like its incredible resolution. In other cases, readers built for the iPad provide the interface for experiencing these digital graphic novels.

Operation Ajax
Inspired by Stephen Kinzer's All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror this digital graphic novel claims to be the first one purpose built for the iPad. Based on a true story of the CIA's involvement in the Middle East and the roots of the modern American conflict with Iran. Readers can view animated graphics and find historical photos and original documents, without leaving the narrative. An interesting review is HERE

Graphic Novels > Android, iPhone, Nintendo DSi, and Kindle

Robot Comics
Robot Comics is a digital comics publisher for hand-helds: Apple's iPhone, Google's Android, Nintendo DSi and Amazon's Kindle. We offer titles specifically designed to be read on e-devices. Download free comics and graphic novels from their website (above), the iTunes Store, or the Android Market.

Graphic Novels > Location-based

Planting Comics
by Ozge Samanci
A site-specific comics installation in the University of California Botanical Garden featuring twenty original comics printed on ceramic tiles. Each comic is location-based and refers to a nearby plant, view, or a detail in the physical environment. Visitors use a map to find all twenty comics and then can create their own comic plant story on the back of the map.

The First Ride
by Josh Ellingson
San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) featured three posters by Ellingson depicting explore children's imagination in the BART system. In each drawing, a young rider sees something unusual going on but the adults around aren't aware. Taken together, the three posters represent a unique and interesting form of the graphic novel. The artwork was displayed in BART stations throughout the Bay Area until the end of October 2010.

Banksy
by Banksy
A British street artist with an international reputation for his graffiti-like work, both inside and outside, shows and explains some of his best works. These individual works are, alone, more comic than graphic novel, but, through the presence and interaction of a viewer, their narratives expand to become both deeper and richer in content and connection.

Graphic Novels > Social Media

Ordinary Things
by Ozge Samanci
An online journal of daily observations in comic, collage, and watercolor form. Samanci has recorded her daily observations in this manner since 24 January 2006.

Graphic Novels > Moving Images

Angel of Music
by Federico Moreno
A theatrical trailer for an upcoming graphic novel by McFly Studio. Moving images in a graphic novel! Very cool and very thought provoking!

Graphic Novels > Digital Performance

Embodied Comics
by Ozge Samanci
As the comics medium is transported from print to pixel, there are opportunities to merge its conventions with those of film, animation, and performance. This project focuses on full bodied interaction to promote performance and embodiment as a form of digital narrative. There is also a high degree of DIY here.

Graphic Novels > Remediated from Games and other Formats

Digital graphic novels may be remediated from digital games, or purpose-created to support these games by acting as transitions between or in lieu of different versions. The question is intriguing: "What/where is the boundary between digital graphic novels and other forms of digital storytelling like games, movies, videos, etc.?" Some interesting examples include . . .

Dead Space: Ignition
by Visceral Games and Sumo Digital and published by Electronic Arts for PlayStation and Xbox
Combines an arcade game featuring three computer hacking games in an interacive comic-style game. The survival horror action puzzle format is designed to connect with other games in the Dead Space game franchise, and specifically acts as a prequel to Dead Space 2. Although participants do not control a character, they must participate in various real-time computer hacking scenarios in order to advance the narrative. Each success provides goodies that can be used in Dead Space 2. Each scenario utilizes animation and voice over audio. The link above leads to information and images at the joystiq website.

Sinkha: The Graphic Novels
by Marco Patrito
The website calls Shikha "a multimedia graphic novel [realized entirely] in 3D computer graphics." The graphic novel is distributed via CD, although a special analogue edition was published in Heavy Metal magazine.

Mass Effect 2: Genesis
by Dark Horse Comics
Although lacking text and word balloons, this video animation is a solid example of how we might remediate digital games into digital graphic novels. The idea here is to provide enough background regarding Mass Effect, the original game for PlayStation, so that players can take up Mass Effect 2 without feeling lost. This comic utilizes sequential art, animated to make it appear as a video to update players, and provides six decision points where they can effectively choose their own adventure. Features voice over narration. Be sure and watch the video sample provided by the link above.

Graphic Novels > Narrative Techniques

Various digital tools provide a number of different and very interesting ways to incorporate narrative into digital graphic novels. Some interesting examples include.
The Concuspidor & The Grand Wizard of Many Things
by Beholder Graphics
Originally serialized on the web from June-December 1995, this series is now collected and archived as an online graphic novel. Click on any character to read their narrative thoughts, all within the same panel. This approach to narrative seems to provide a much richer, and deeper, telling of the story than is possible in traditional, one dimensional narrative where we hear from one character and then another in a predetermined order. It was quite radical, in 1995, to be able to click on different parts of an image and invoke different information. Even today, we don't see this technique used so much.

France's Experimental Comic Book Movement
A video interview in the Wall Street Journal with Parisian comic artist Etienne Lecroart who designs comics that can be read upside down, backwards, and inside out. He belongs to a group called OuBaPo, the Experimental Comics Workshop.

Graphic Novels > Guides / Information Resources

Gravett, Paul. Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know. New York: HaperCollins, 2005.
ISBN 0-06-082425-5
As the subtitle says: "Everything You Need to Know."

Preiss, Bryon and Howard Zimmerman, eds. The Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics, and Manga. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2005.
ISBN 0-312-34326-4
A collection of the best this year. Good introductory reader for those just getting started.

Rothschile, D. Alviva. Graphic Novels: A Bibliographic Guide to Book-Length Comics. Libraries Unlimited, 1995.
ISBN: 978-1563080869

Weiner, Stephen. The Rise of the Graphic Novel. New York: Nantier, Beal, Minoustchine, 2003.
ISBN 1-5613-368-2
The author, a librarian, selects graphic novels over a broad range of genres. Provides biographies and bibliographies.

Weiner, Stephen. The 101 Best Graphic Novels. New York: Nantier, Beal, Minoustchine, 2001.

Graphic Novels > Interesting Utilizations

Taxi 07: Roads Forward is one of the publications produced as part of Taxi 07, a program to celebrate one hundred years of gas-powered taxi service in New York City, and to facilitate innovative new cab designs and propose improvements to the technologies, regulations, and public spaces that support the taxi system. Part information document, part book, part graphic novel, Taxi 07, there are many great ideas here. Download a copy in .PDF format.

Graphic Novels > Reviews

Graphic Novel Reviews
Independent opinions by Johanna Draper Carlson and friends. A massive number of graphic novel reviews available here searchable by both title and publisher.

Must-Read Comic Classics
Essential, must-read graphic novels according to Carlson.

Best Graphic Novels of 2011
Best Graphic Novels of 2010
Best Graphic Novels of 2009
Best Graphic Novels of 2008
Best Graphic Novels of 2007
Best Graphic Novels of 2006

Graphic Novel Review
This blog provides reviews of book-length comics for the casual reader. Use the navigation menu at the right to select a category, author, or publisher of interest.

Graphic Novels > Making Them

Chin, Mike. Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel: Everything You Need to Know to Create Great Graphic Novels

Gertler, Nat and Steve Lieber. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel
You know this no nonsense series of straight-forward guides. Both authors have an impressive number of comics and graphic novels to their credit. A good starting resource.

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
The subtitle reads, "The invisible art," and McCloud makes it extremely visible. Good discussion of how comics work, with many examples. The entire book is presented as a comic. More information online at Scott McCloud.com

McCloud, Scott. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels.

Moore, Alan. Alan Moore's Writing For Comics Volume 1
The master of comic book writing shares his thoughts on how to produce a top-notch script.

Rollins, Prentis. The Making of a Graphic Novel. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2006.
Printed as a flip book with an original science fiction graphic novel, The Resonator.

Gaphic Novels > Digital Tools for Creating

ImageTexT
A web-based journal committed to advancing the academic study of comic books, comic strips, and animated cartoons (www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/)

Comic Strip Creator
Emphasis on structured dialog rather than free form image composition; two characters per panel maximum; Encourages blocking out dialog within constraints of context.

Comic Strip Generator
Library of character and object icons; Users arrange dialog with ease; Suggested uses: reproduction of movie scenes, illustrating song lyrics.

Storyrobe
An iPhone application that let's you create and share stories using photographs on your mobile telephone. Download from the iTunes Store.

Strip Designer
Create comic strips using photographs on your iPhone. Add and position text balloons. Paint on your photographs, or draw from scratch. Once finished, email your comic strip, or upload it to Facebook, or Tweet it via Twitter. Also, export as a .PDF file to create comic books. Download from the iTunes Store.