Rudiger, Hollis Margaret. “Reading lessons: graphic novels 101.” The Horn Book Magazine. pp. 126-134.

In choosing to take a break from blogging about English 709, I decided to read and blog about articles which were read in my young adult literature class last summer. Ironically enough, the first article read, “Reading Lessons: Graphic Novels 101” seemed to speak pretty closely to our Thursday evening class discussion.

Hmm… Sign from up above?

Hollis Margaret Rudiger discusses the idea of visual detail. Mmm… more specifically, “visual literacy.” But, before we can go there (meaning, before we get to the reader, let’s talk about the graphic novel writer. “A good visual storyteller creates suspense and anticipation through the artwork as much as, if not more than, through the text” (p. 127). In regards to the art, various vocabulary terms can be considered: panel, gutter.

When analyzing graphic novels, various questions can be asked, similar to when analyzing any other text. “What can we tell about the narrative content?” “What is the significance of the subtle differences between the top panoramic scene and the bottom one?” (p.129).

One complaint many new readers of graphic novels may have is that of getting confused by the panels. Rudiger addresses this up front, “Even as an avid reader of graphic novels, I sometimes need to reread the same panels a few different ways until it makes sense. That’s OK” (p. 131). Further, many readers of, shall I say, ‘normal’ English texts, often are confused in how to discuss a graphic novel. Well, throwing out words like metaphor, allusion, plot, and setting is a very good place to start. “…the same vocabulary [you] use to analyze narrative text could be used to analyze narrative pictures” (p. 134). In choosing to use these words to describe a visually narrative text, readers will begin to realize more and more that the images do not just supplement the story–they ARE the story!