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Cowgirls and Comics

March 29, 2007

First all, I have to say congratulations to the University of Wyoming Cowgirls basketball team for making it to the NIT Championship game on Sat.  My family and I bought tickets right after the exciting game last night and will be making the 190+ mile trek to Laramie to watch the girls take on the University of Wisconsin.  GO WYO!

While I was listening to the game on the radio last night, I was reading a book that was out of my normal reading material.  American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (here is review from BlogCritics) is a graphic novel of high magnitude, having won the ALA’s Michael L. Printz award and being a National Book Award Finalist, and so I thought I’d give it a try (plus, I’ll donate it to my library once I’m finished).  Anyway, I finished the novel long before the game finished as it took only 90 minutes to finish the book.  While I was completely amazed by the story line (I highly recommend it), what stayed with me was I now have a better understanding of why graphic novels, especially manga, are such a draw for kids whose attention is pulled in so many different directions.  I could very easily read this book and being doing something else, like texting a friend or watching tv.  Even though I was listening to the game, I still feel a got a very good understanding of what the book was about and the message it was getting across.  The drawings help with this.  I can get at a single glance that a character is surprised or anxious.  It didn’t have to go into words.  Some parts of me feel that I should be crying, “This is not a book.  It is not a literary form because it has pictures, does not solely rely on words.”  But I can’t protest too much as I found this novel to be just as rich as if it were all text and no pictures.  In fact, I don’t think the message was lost at all.  I know that often graphic novels are compared to comic books, but I think that is wrong.  I don’t know much about comic books but I don’t think they have the depth that graphic novels have in the plots.  Yes, they keep characters going and yes, there is drama, but I think graphic novels hold a little more sophistication.  I could be totally off base with this and please correct me if I’m wrong.  I’m slowly trying to build a collection of graphic novels.  I don’t know that I will get much into manga; one, because there is a bazillion out there and I could never keep up and two, my budget is limited and to keep up would probably expend my entire budget.  Besides, I have noticed that most students who like manga go out and buy the books then they share among friends.  I will get what I can, but I can’t get it all.

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