Graphic Novels

The Arrival by Shaun Tan interior page, 11 drawings designed to look like photos, a girl is breaking out of a building and getting onto a train

In 1969, John Updike wrote,"I see no intrinsic reason why a doubly talented artist might not arise and create a comic-strip novel masterpiece." Updike would see his prediction come true less than a decade later with the publication of Will Eisner's pioneering graphic novel, A Contract With God.

The graphic novel, a swiftly developing, high-low cultural hybrid, has a many-stranded past. Major influences include the caprices of 19th-century European caricaturists; the dazzling sketchbooks of Hokusai and, subsequently, Japanese manga (comic-strip narratives); and the underground comix that culminated in Art Spiegelman's Maus. The triumph of Maus allowed a generation of artists to pursue far-flung ideas and personal obsessions.

Increasingly, many have done so in books with special appeal for young readers. As a more grown-up version of comics, the graphic novel has proven to be an art form ideally suited to the coming-of-age story, as in Craig Thompson's Blankets. For beginning and "reluctant" readers, these illustrated books can be gateways to literacy as well.


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Maus by Art Spiegelman cover, two humanoid mice are huddled under a large swastika

Maus

Written by Art Spiegelman

1986

Blankets by Craig Thompson cover, a couple embracing in a forest during winter

Blankets

Written by Craig Thompson

2003

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi cover,  a portrait of a girl in a hijab

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

2004

Babymouse Queen of the World by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm cover, a small mouse in a crown standing on top of the world

Kerlan Features

Babymouse Queen of the World

Written and illustrated by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

2005

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang cover, a Chinese teen holding a toy robot

American Born Chinese

Written by Gene Luen Yang

2006

The Arrival by Shaun Tan cover, a man with a suitcase speaking to a small  monster

The Arrival

Written by Shaun Tan

2006

A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories by Will Eisner cover, a man in a spread eagle stance yelling at the sky

Reproduction of: A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories

Written by Will Eisner

2006

Originally published in 1978

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel cover, a drawing of a family portrait featuring a woman and three children

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel

2007

Smile by Raina Telgemeier cover, a large yellow smiley face is wearing braces

Smile

Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

2010

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson cover, two female figures and a male figure in armor preparing for battle

Nimona

Written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

2015

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag cover, a teenage boy kneeling in a corner and reading by candlelight

The Witch Boy

Written and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag

2017

New Kid by Jerry Craft cover, a boy is writing in a notebook

New Kid

Written and illustrated by Jerry Craft

2019

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki cover, a couple is embracing in a garden

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Written by Mariko Tamaki

Illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

2019

Art of the Picture Book
Graphic Novels