I entered into this project with an already deep affection for the graphic novel (and comic book) medium. I love the ways in which images and words are allowed to intermingle and build upon each other. I have for a long time now, been aware of their literary value. Art is something that can engender an emotion, and mine have been riled up by this medium more than once. I felt a deeper connection to Yorick’s pet monkey Ampersand in Y: The Last Man than I did for my grandmother’s cat Ricky.
Because of this, I had thought that my potential for learning from this project may be stunted. However, my learning did come – not from doing this project, but simply from having an assignment about graphic novels. I engaged in conversations with my peers about what work I had to do instead of hang out with them. I was surprised to find that not everyone is on board with the literary merit of my beloved graphic novels. What I have learned is that the stigma of their lesser value runs deeper than I have previously thought.
Because of this, I feel more strongly that graphic novels ought to be taught in schools. Through this, people will have available to them a whole new slew of literature which can help them to further make sense of experience, emotion, and more.
I have also observed from these conversations that many people avoid graphic novels because “they are harder to read.” No longer do we simply guide our eyes from left to right, from left to right, and so on until the end. The panel layout of graphic novels does not adhere to any one standard, thus requiring one to pay closer attention to the story. I say this because in a good graphical novel of literary worth, the layout is organic to the story, in harmony with it. As such, attention to the story guides the eye. Through introducing many of my friends over the years to graphic novels, I have found that they at first express frustration with the panels, but in time come to read anything that I hand them without an issue, despite how differently they have been arranged.