Graphic novels merit greater respect

By: Katelyn Summers

I’ve heard the same statement a thousand times. Most people don’t even mean it in a condescending fashion when they say it but it always sounds the same. “Well, Katelyn, comic books aren’t real books.”

I have loved comics for many years now. They have been an important part in my life as well as an important part of my education. The fact that I, and most other comic book fans, must defend the merit of comic books in today’s society is rather ridiculous. I personally believe that one day comic books and graphic novels will be seen as equal to other literature such as “To Kill a Mocking Bird” or “1984.” It is undeniable that the books that we deem as “important” today have changed drastically from maybe 50 years ago.

I’d like to make a point to say that I absolutely love film. Movies have been an important part of my life since before I can remember. I hope to someday be involved in the process of filmmaking. That being said, there are some things that film cannot do and only literature, namely comics and graphic novels, can.

Last week, an article was run mentioning “V for Vendetta,” a topic brought to the forefront of our minds on Nov. 5 each year. Many people know of “V for Vendetta” because of the film by this title that came out in 2005. I find this rather sad. The fact that people identify this story with the film rather than the original graphic novel upsets me because the original text has so much more to offer. As can be said for most book to- film adaptations, the book is usually superior. In this case, however, people seem to forget the book all together and site the film for the popularization of the fifth of November. I want to urge people to take their love of film a step further. Did you like “V for Vendetta” the film? Read the graphic novel. Big fan of the Christopher Nolan “Batman” trilogy? Read any of the comics this series is based on, such as “The Long Halloween” by Jeph Loeb or the “Knightfall” trilogy. Looking at the original texts not only gives you a greater context for watching the film but also reveals the true story as the original writer intended it to be told, as well as the morals that most pieces in the literary canon hold.

I believe that slowly but surely, comics and graphic novels will be incorporated into the classroom and will be taught side-by-side with the classics. The key is making people realize that literature is literature in all of its form, and just because one book had art and another does not doesn’t mean that one is more respectable than the other.

Let’s think about all the books we read in high school and even here at Xavier. All of these texts have been deemed as “classics” and something that we’ll need to better understand the world we’ll all soon enter. Why are these books seen as important? Because they hold some sort of moral or a relatable story or a concept that we, as a society, deem vital for everyone to learn about.

Comic books and graphic novels are full of the same morals and stories that are shared in our “regular” books of today. Pick up any comic book, whether it is about superheroes, space, fantasy or regular life and you can find the same key concepts and literary features you’ve been learning about since high school. Comics and graphic novels are able to fulfill the same function that the books we’ve been reading our whole lives do, with an artistic and exciting twist.

I know a fair amount of people on this campus are readers and an even larger amount are not. For both of these groups I ask that you give graphic novels and comics a try. They are not for children or geeks who can flirt with you only in Klingon. Comics are for everyone and they have something to say to everyone, and I hope that someday they will be taught alongside “Romeo and Juliet” or “The Republic.”

Katelyn Summers is a junior from Chappaqua, N.Y. She is an English major and a copy editor for the Newswire.