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Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know Paperback – November 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–This is a wonderful primer for someone new to the genre or who is starting a graphic-novel collection. Gravett does an excellent job of acknowledging that there are things to hate about comics and he confronts them head on, with explanations and suggestions for future reading. Next he offers a classics list of 30 of his favorite titles. Most of them are well known and are considered must-haves in any collection, such as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbonss Watchmen (DC Comics, 1995), Art Spiegelmans Maus (Knopf, 1993), and Neil Gaimans The Sandman series (DC Comics). The rest of the book examines those titles and others like them, showing sample pages with directions on how to read them and pointing out themes, keywords, and special features. This oversize volume has glossy, full-color pages and an easy-to-read text. Some of the sexier examples of graphic novels are included, such as Robert Crumbs My Troubles with Women (Last Gasp, 1991). A useful, informative book for anyone who wants to become better versed in the genre.–Melissa T. Jenvey, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Anyone who wants a handle on that suddenly hot new format, the graphic novel, should seize upon this useful, incisive, intelligently arranged guide. Gravett analyzes 30 key graphic novels ("stories to change your life") in generic or topical chapters that bring together, say, alternative comics products such as Maus and Jimmy Corrigan, or superhero standouts such as Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. For readers inspired to investigate further, he follows each discussion of a particular book with selections from four similar graphic novels. Entire pages from the work under discussion appear, indicating its quality far better than a panel or two would. Gravett's analyses are concise and perceptive, and his introductory remarks in each chapter are knowledgeable. He has long been associated with the British alt-comics movement, which allows him to recommend a number of notable British and European graphic novels that likely would have been overlooked by a more American-centered book. Even the most well-versed comics fan will discover new treasures here, and newbies to the field may consider it indispensable. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060824255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060824259
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Tim Pilcher on November 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Following his success of Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics with another affirmative and considered guide to comics, Gravett now focuses on the phoenix-like return of the "Graphic Novel" that failed to live up to expectations in the early '90s. However, time has moved on and this book reveals how the medium has evolved dramatically over the past ten years. Gravett's masterstroke is to reproduce at least two full pages of sequential artwork, giving readers a real flavour of each title examined. Annotated notes alongside the artwork explain the material in a manner reminiscent of fine art books. Not only that but the excellent, if initially hard to follow, thematic cross indexing means there are endless ways of making connections between disparate titles such as Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Dystopias) leads to Enkil Bilal's Nikopol Trilogy. Follow another link (Nature) and you get Jiro Taniguchi's The Walking Man. It's a close as the Internet on the page as you'll ever get. This book is perfect for librarians and educationalists looking to broaden their, and their students', knowledge and while many comics aficionados will be familiar with the titles, there are still a few surprises and the chapter openers contain many anecdotal nuggets. A perfect present to convert that literary die-hard who'd have to admit that comics haven't just grown up, but are now entering a self-assured and confident middle-age.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Cattini on November 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific resource for anyone looking to get into comics or a comics fan looking for more reading material. Gravett discusses 100 comics, by such greats as Art Spiegelman, Neil Gaiman, and Daniel Clowes. The book is informative, well-written, and has tons of sample excerpts from various graphic novels. Most importantly, it's a lot of fun to read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard De Angelis on December 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a great primer on how and why to read graphic literature (traditionally known as "comic books") as well as an excellent catalog of the best works of sequential art (for an enlightening exploration of just what sequential art is and how it works, read Scott McCloud's seminal Understanding Comics). This attractively designed book contains detailed two-page entries on 30 works considered classics by the author (with whom I concur--at least on the ones I've read), and slightly less detailed half page entries on 120 others (see images at the top of item description), all of which provide sample pages and analysis of the storytelling technique employed by the creator(s). (Unfortunately, the text on the half page reproductions is sometimes too small to read without the aid of a magnifying glass.) The book is divided into chapters arranged by subject matter, which begin with a background essay on the history of each genre and contain a sidebar with a brief list of additional recommendations (totaling another 100 in all). The genres covered are Childhood Stories, Life Stories, War, Superheroes (of course), Fantasy/Science Fiction, Horror, Mystery/Crime, Humor/Satire, Historical (fiction and non), and Erotica.

While I highly recommend this book for people trying to familiarize themselves with the realm of graphic novels, the subtitle, "Everything You Need to Know," is not entirely accurate. The focus here is on English language comics. For a sampling of graphic literature from around the globe, check out The Essential Guide to World Comics by Tim Pilcher and Brad Brooks.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Estro_generation on October 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was looking for something to give me a firm history of this "new" genre of fiction and this proved very useful. The author seems to have a firm understanding of how the reader's eye moves about (especially comic book readers) and keeps his format as true to his subject matter as possible. He allows the reader to skip ahead, and around; dig deep in the subject matter, or theme; run rampant around the page. I couldn't recommend this book more for those who are unfamiliar with graphic novels, aspire to write one, or just plain enjoy the history. I loved the way that the author stuck to mature subject matter/ writers as well.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Rzewski on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a marvelous and very thorough reference book for graphic novels published in the US market. I am grateful since I needed a "taxonomy" of sorts for the newly available works, and the differently-themed chapters seem to group the various works into categories.

While the tradition of the graphic novel has been strong in europe in the sixties and seventies, many of those works have never been translated into english, and thus references to them are not included in this book.

I was pleased to see Hugo Pratt's "The ballad of the salted sea", a revered classic among european readers. I must conclude that the only reason it got included in this book is because it is now available in english.

I noticed Persepolis got included as well. That work as been "cinematized" recently, and shown at this year's Cannes Film Festival. [btw, the english set is half the price of the french set if you were to buy it in france, proof that the english-based publishing world dominates the world...]

Great book. Great resource. Great reference.
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