OPINION: Graphic novels are quick to read and showcase a multitude of stories


Featured Image Citation: “Graphic Novels” by morebyless is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. No changes were made to the image. Use of this photo does not indicate photographer endorsement of this article.

EP Presnell

If you’re like me, you like to read.

Personally, not much is better than sitting down with a long book and some iced coffee or hot chocolate and opening the pages to dive back into a world similar or extremely different from my own. I grew up loving fictional worlds and I don’t think I’ll ever stop, because there’s something fascinating in them, especially when you get to read about them and envision them in your head.

If you’re also like me though, you don’t have any time to sit down and read a long book.

It’s one of the worst things I can admit to myself, but I don’t like reading those long books anymore. My brain is too occupied with the thought of another test, more notes to do and another reading to annotate. The worlds and stories I found interesting a year ago have become long and dreadful, and when I do have time to read, it’s a classic piece of literature for English that requires my full attention because there’s a quiz on it the next day.

Teachers tell you all the time you should be reading more because it improves your brain by helping you develop a broad vocabulary, which is great for the ACT and SAT, but it’s hard to do that sometimes. Students who tackle multiple AP classes, jobs, sports, extra curricular and/or more know how hard it can be to find time to read and keep themselves entertained in long chapter books, but lately I have found something that has both been able to satisfy my teacher’s wishes and my personal desire to read during my free time: graphic novels.

A unique art form

Some critics might write off graphic novels as stories for people who don’t like to read. Some even say the story is lesser because it relies on pictures instead of descriptions to lay out scenes and specific moments, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Graphic novels are specific art form that combines dialogue and the inner thoughts of a character with visuals that can be anywhere from simple to full out masterpieces.  In terms of art, a graphic novel could be black and white illustrations like in Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis,” or it could be complex like Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s “Umbrella Academy.”

The art is only a half of the overall piece though. The stories are what make graphic novels,and the author’s use of limited space for words make the ones that are there even more powerful. It’s the same as any book, where what the characters say and do is important, but how those important elements are portrayed is different. There’s more flexibility through the art that gives them a unique and complex structure.

In a normal book, it’s rare to see jumps in time and jumps between reality and what’s in the main character’s head. In graphic novels though, those are both normal and common. In “Persepolis,” Marjane grows up believing she will be the next prophet because she can talk with God, something shown often throughout her childhood. As for time jumps, it’s common to see a character visibly age from one page to the next.

One page at a time

Graphic novels themselves are great, but what’s even better about them is the amount of time it takes to read them. If you add up all the hours it takes to read a 400 page book, it could be anywhere from three to five hours divided up over a period of time. Depending on the amount of leisure time someone has, it could take them three days, to a couple of weeks, to even a month or more to finish a 400 page book. Graphic novels can be very different though.

If you’re reading a normal book, it can take a while to read all the words, especially if the font is tiny and there’s hardly any space between the lines. If you’re reading only a couple lines of words and looking at pictures though, it will take up less time and allow you to finish them quicker. Reading a 400 page graphic novel, instead of a 400 page chapter book, could save a reader hours of time.

Although graphic novels are both convenient and interesting to both look at and read, you should still make an effort to read chapter books from time to time. Just as graphic novels are their own art form, chapter books are just as meaningful. While I have been reading more graphic novel lately, there are still chapter books that I want to read and when I have time, I plan to read them.

Graphic novels can be just as educational and important though. In a TED Talk below, Gene Yang, a graphic novelist, discusses why graphic novels belong in the classroom and the value of teaching them. 

Finally though, perhaps the best part about graphic novels are the stories they tell and the variety within them. More often than not, people think graphic novels are just a large collection of comic books put together, but there’s so much more to them than that. Stories like “March” by John Lewis tell the story of the civil rights movement through the eyes of a civil rights leader and other stories like “Maus” by Art Spiegelman depict the holocaust through mice, cats and pigs. They can come in both fiction and nonfiction and depict stories realistically or fictionally, providing a wide variety for people to choose from. So the next time you find yourself wanting to read a new book but know you don’t have much time to do so, consider looking at a graphic novel. You might find a new favorite book. 

Featured Image Citation: “Graphic Novels” by morebyless is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic. No changes were made to the image. Use of this photo does not indicate photographer endorsement of this article.