Today was a dreary, gray, muggy day in Miami, Florida. This of course gave me the perfect excuse to take cover from the elements at our local bookstore. I brought along one of my younger cousins visiting from out of state who shares my same passion for pages, words and dare I say it, pictures. Not really what your used to finding in your traditional novel, is it? Graphic novels and manga are part of the latest book craze though and are taking over bookshelves and digital libraries by storm.
My cousin and I started off in the children’s section. Nothing seemed to really catch her eye. We raked the fiction aisle on the second floor and again found nothing. It was only when we approached the Graphic Novel and Manga section that I saw her eyes grow wide and a smile creep over her face. She hurried over to the nearest bookshelf and started flipping through several titles.
Looking over her shoulder I saw bubbles and small blurbs which I already knew acted as the primary form of dialogue in a graphic novel. Instead of reading through several paragraphs of descriptive action, bright colors and images graced the pages of characters in mid fight. It presents to readers an already visual experience versus the transcribing of them whilst reading a traditional novel. I myself must admit to having read several graphic novels before and find them very fun and fast reads.
It’s one of the benefits busy students and adults have when wanting to catch up with George R. Martins A Song of Ice and Fire series for instance, when the novel format seems too time consuming to read through. Yes, novels such as this one are available in graphic novel format. As well as Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire, Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and countless other books. This format ranges for almost every age group but predominantly for more mature audiences.
Another very visual reading experience can be found in manga. For those of you who have not yet experienced a manga book, it is traditionally read from right to left (as the Japanese read it) and best resembles what Americans would consider a comic book. Again like the graphic novel it contains more images, although these are in the form of strips and more often than not are black and white instead of in color. The plot is played out through visual images, the dialogue through blurbs and bubbles. Manga originated in Japan and has a sister relationship to their version of cartoons called anime. Characters traits usually consisting of big or long eyes, spiky hair and over accentuated assets of the physical form.
Publishers around the world caught on to the global graphic novel and manga movement and wanted in on it. Authors are gaining a wider audience in this manner and publishers are finding it a great way to further expand already existing franchises. As mentioned above several novels have already been and continue to be adapted or written into these popular formats. I myself am reading bestselling author Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices: Book 1: The Clockwork Angel as a manga. After having read the entirety of Clare’s Immortal Instruments series in novel format I gave the manga a shot and found it very enjoyable and time efficient.
Weather you are a traditional reader who loves the feeling of pages beneath your fingers or prefer the glossy screen of an E-reader, Graphic Novels and Manga can be experienced in both ways. Below are some fun suggestions to get you started on what publishers and readers alike can’t get enough of.
The Sandman Chronicles by Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg (Illustrator)
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard (Illustrator)
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, Jae Lee (Illustrator)
The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, Hye-Kyung Baek(Illustrator)
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata (Illustrator)
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (Illustrator)