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Introduction: The Cri de Cœur
This is the cri de cœur of a graphic novel.
Forget the time when you could marvel at the beauty of a single panel of a graphic novel for a solid half an hour. The 21st-century comic strips have come to replace my delicate complexity with their blatant straightforwardness. They are on-the-nose and entirely one-note, they have the value of Disney straight-to-DVD sequels, yet their existence is somehow warranted. Welcome to the colorful world of selling out, sonny. I’m a graphic novel, and I’ll see you through it.
It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog World
I have to admit, though, that I should’ve seen it coming. It takes a second to pass a GB of data from one user to another, so why should reading take longer? As a result, comic strips have trickled into every single fandom. Three panels of a bunny on steroids get millions of views per week, for crying out loud. The graphic novels trying to tell a story, in their turn, are tossed aside for a moment of asinine fun. What pisses me off is that so many good artists never consider me as an option. It’s not that they don’t know the difference between a graphic novel and a freaking comic strip – it is just that they realize that they would be better off catering to the general audience. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
What Is Mistaken for a Graphic Novel
Go get a magazine or visit any imageboard, and you’ll get a general idea. Instead of complicated stories, you get three panels of childlike scribbles. There’s little to no depth, an absolute lack of original thought, and a zero bite in these strips. They have nothing to offer to the reader, and, as a result, they pander to the lowest common denominator.
We’re Different, Goddammit!
What really gets on my nerves, though, is that people barely notice the difference between the two and devour happily what they’re offered. O.K., here’s a basic how-to for rookies. Kids, remember: I have a plot, and it usually has five stages – five, not three. Next, characters have arches. This means that they have to change or learn a lesson by the end of the novel or its chapter. What’s more, I have a very distinct and often unique style. Take Frank Miller’s graphic novels, for example; have you ever noticed the careful use of color in them? That’s the kind of attitude that the author of a graphic novel should have.
Conclusion: Between the Covers of the Book
So, if you’re expecting some food for your brain tortured by the flaws of our education system or state economy, throw that Wonder Bread of mental dissemination as far away as possible and get a real graphic novel with an intense plot and relatable and complex characters to read. The line between the doodles made by a third-grader in between his classes and high-profile artworks tied together with a cohesive narration and introduced by well-developed characters must be finally drawn. I’m a graphic novel, and I’m proud of it.