novel is one which portrays its story line with brutal realism, graphic violence and/or graphic sex.
The word “graphic” used in the
above context has evolved from the original meaning of something being described in vivid detail, to have sexual and violent
connotations. But that’s not what is meant by “graphic novels”. These are novels where narrative is related
through a combination of text and art, often in comic-strip form. Some of these novels are written for children. Some are
written for adults and consequently MAY have sexual references etc.
However, the exact definition of a “graphic
novel” is causing contention among librarians, publishers and critics alike. Does it include superhero “collections”?
What about non-fiction? Does the novel have
to be “square-bound”? To get a good understanding of graphic novels, it’s best to do some research and not
rely too heavily on any one definition.
Because of the connotations of the word “graphic”,
some people in the trade prefer to call them "drawn books" or "visual novels".
writer would read comics – they’re for kids, aren’t they?
I decided to start my research for this one
in our own bookcases. Here are the titles we own which I believe would come under the heading of “graphic novels”.
Asterix, Goscinny and Uderzo – every
volume known to man
The Sandman, Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman
Paul Jennings’ “Round the Twist”-
a graphic version by Lumsden and de Vries
I did not include our picture books, most of
which do have a “combination of text and art” because I believe they are in a separate category of “picture
books” rather than novels. Nor did I include the Calvin and Hobbes series by Watterson, Hagar the Horrible, Wizard of
Id etc because they are all written as “comics”, not novels. We also have the wonderful Cartoon History of the
Universe, Larry Gonick, Vols 1-7, but it’s non-fiction.
Writers, self-respecting or not, owe it to
themselves to read some of the graphic novels in the market today. Try to get a copy of the visually beautiful “The
Sandman”, definitely not written for children, but very popular with young adults.
Those of you writing for the YA market should
check out library shelves and bookstores to find more titles in the graphic novel genre. Some of them have to be read from
back to front because they follow the Japanese manga style. These manga novels in particular are responsible for pushing the
huge growth in sales of graphic novels.
There are calls for submissions from publishing
companies for graphic novel writers. Though it isn’t for writers of children’s fiction, and though it may seem
to contradict what I said about Myth One, here’s an example of one company I found on the internet:
- Yaoi Press - Graphic Novel Script Writers Wanted
PAY: $200-$250 for a 20 page script
publishes graphic novels. These are thick, soft-cover, digest-sized comic books. Our books are drawn in the Japanese "manga"
style. Our stories all fall into a niche Japanese genre called 'yaoi' that is popular with women in the United States. Yaoi
is romantic stories about guys in love with other guys for women readers. We need graphic novel script writers. We're hoping
some polished fiction writers will consider making the leap into something different. Please research the genre of yaoi online
before you submit. It's not the same as gay fiction. Payment is $10-$15 per graphic novel page depending on your professional
published credits. A full-length graphic novel is 100-120 pages. We also publish shorter bonus stories of 20-60 pages. Sample
scripts available upon request. Please read our submissions guidelines carefully:
Book sellers and libraries are catering to
the increase in readers of graphic novels by expanding their selections and including novels for children, young adults and
heard graphic novels are just for kids who don’t like reading.
Touted by some, especially publishing companies,
as the cure-all for aliterate or reluctant readers, the audience for graphic novels actually includes children, teens, young
adults and adults, many of whom love to read different genres.
Let’s think back to when we read comics
as kids. Do you recall enjoying them? My parents disapproved of comics, so of course they held an added lustre for my brother
and me. We occasionally met up with kids who were allowed to own comics and we’d indulge in an orgy of Superman, Little
Lulu, Donald Duck and Li’l Abner. We read as many books as we could get hold of, too, but we adored the speed, colour
and pizzazz of comics.
When my son was seven, he discovered comics
for himself. His great love was Asterix which I got to enjoy all over again. And again! My son is now eighteen. He enjoys
reading Terry Pratchett novels just as much as he enjoys reading Chobits by Clamp. Fortunately, he has now learnt to read
to himself! When I stole his copy of Chobits, ordered at great expense over the internet, I discovered it’s about a
guy who falls in love with his persocom (a lady robot). To tell you the truth,
but please don’t tell my son, it reminds me of what my mother called “penny dreadfuls” which were romance
comics we read under the desk in high school.
My point is, it’s not just reluctant
readers who enjoy graphic novels. However, graphic novels certainly are a wonderful way to get such kids into reading. In
my book, if you’ll pardon the pun, anything that gets kids away from a screen and back to print, deserves to be encouraged
by parents, librarians and teachers.
Here are some useful links for writers of graphic
Dark Horse Comics Writer Submission Guidelines
2000AD Submission Guidelines are here:
been to these sites yet?
Menagerie Publishing currently publishes two magazines. Think & Discover is for grades 1-4
and Above and Beyond is for grades 5-8. Both magazines are comprised of “creative
ideas for gifted, bright learners and every child who wants a challenge.” These are
not just your
typical classroom magazines - so we do not want the typical submissions including short
stories, bulletin boards, crafts, etc. We are looking for story starters, logic puzzles,
writing exercises, problem-solving scenarios, school projects and enrichment activities for
core curriculum. All manuscripts should contain some type of student activities - we do not
accept informational articles.We do accept e-mail submissions although there are some formats
that we have trouble retrieving. If that happens you will be notified.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: (319) 376-5734
LEE & LOW BOOKS,
the award-winning publisher of multicultural books for children, is pleased to announce the sixth annual NEW VOICES AWARD.
The Award will be given for a children’s picture book story by a writer of color. The Award winner will receive a cash
grant of $1,000 and our standard publication contract, including our standard advance and royalties. An Honor Award winner
will receive a cash grant of $500. More details at the site.
Stories and poems must be previously unpublished. Content should be age-appropriate—no
violence, sexual situations or profanity. Be creative, and most of all, have fun with it!
March and June 2006 issues: (updated October 17th, 2005)
We are now accepting submissions for our 2006 Spring and Summer issues. There
are no specific themes. More information at the site.
Did you catch Robert Redmond’s Pencil
Pals column in November? He had an excellent interview with Troy Wilson, children’s author, which no writer should miss.
Your PROMPT for this month is to take the seventh
picture you see in a book or magazine of choice and let it develop into a story or article of 500-1000 words.
Until next month, write on!