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June 8, 2007

Graphic Novels

Emma H., Teen Ink's high school intern, wrote this week's "Extra Ink."

People tend to think of comic books as being for younger kids: unsophisticated, with simplistic hero-versus-villain plots lacking subtlety and character depth. And, it must be admitted, this is sometimes true. But the graphic novel (a longer form of comic, bound into a real book) is a surprisingly good medium for unusual, creative stories. It can mix thought-bubbles and superheroes with literature that leaves you thinking afterwards.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Watchmen, written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Dave Gibbons. This book has gained a lot of attention: it won a Hugo Award (a science-fiction achievement award) and quite a lot of recognition from the mainstream press. It's a mystery and a thriller, and the characters are illegal superheroes who live in an alternate version of the 1980s. Unlike the characters of most superhero comics, Watchmen's protagonists and foes are incredibly complex, psychologically speaking.

The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by a whole host of artists and colorists. (Also check out its spin-off, Lucifer.) Sandman is another highly acclaimed book, having won a World Fantasy Award in 1991. The main character is the title character, Sandman or Morpheus, who is one of the seven “Endless”: a group of brothers and sisters who personify seven forces in the universe. Sandman is a series, not an individual book, and its stories feature a terrifically varied, original cast of characters.

The Resonator, written and illustrated by Prentis Rollins. It's also called The Making of a Graphic Novel, and is formatted as a two-sided flipbook; one side of the book is a description of how the author created his graphic novel, and the other showcases the novel itself. It's a cerebral science-fiction tale, and shows a world where humans no longer have to sleep -- mostly.

These are just a few of the many great graphic novels out there, so happy reading!

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