Why Are Graphic Novels Still a Step Too Far for Some Fans?


“I’ve outgrown picture books…” one reader commented, dismissing the graphic novel format outright on a blog I frequent.

Frustrating, right?

How many people do that? And why? Are there some people for whom the comic book – or the graphic novel, to use the medium’s more sophisticated nomenclature – is simply a bridge too far? Why do someĀ  to follow their favorite characters across multiple formats – audio book, television pictures, motion pictures and even games – but stop short of the sequential storytelling medium?

I’ve met them myself. I’m friends with some of them, even. They’re the people who get a panicked look when you tell them that if they like The Walking Dead TV show then they’ll love the comic. The folks who will preface their love of the Batman movies with this careful preamble: “I don’t like comic books, but…”

It’s hard to believe that in this stage of the geek media game (I mean, c’mon, sci fi is mainstream now: The Hunger Games movie had the third highest movie opening of all time) that some people remain resistant to what that one reader dismissed as “picture books”. Where does this resistance come from?

Does there yet remain some residual prejudice that comic books are for nerdy, acne-ridden perma-virgins? Or is it that some people consider pictures of the sequential storytelling medium to be a prop-up for people who can’t read well enough to tackle a proper novel? Maybe it’s both.

Should we care? I think so. People are missing out on some amazing stories and beautiful art. But how do we get them to step over the gap? To take that leap of faith? I say that we give more graphic novels as gifts.

Why not start with something that you know they love already? Take the new House of Odd graphic novel, for example. I bet you know a fair bunch of Koontz fans. If they like the Odd Thomas books then you might have a fighting chance of convincing them that they should give it a try. Tell them that this doesn’t replace the Koontz novels – it’s not a substitute or “eazy-2-read” versions for problem readers. This is is an expansion of the stories and character they already love. Maybe having a graphic novel in the privacy of their home will be enough to get them to give the medium a try. Who knows? Maybe they’ll like it.Maybe you will have created another comic book fan.

I feel strongly that we should share our passions with others. If we’re not going to at least try to spread the good word about our favorite books, movies, games and comics, how can we complain when other people – like the reader who has “outgrown picture books” – dismiss them out of turn?