Wordless Comics

In the influential graphic novel Understanding Comics, creator Scott McCloud defines comics as:

“Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in a deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.”

Notice that this definition does not include any specific mention of comics requiring words in order to be considered comics. Words, sure, fit under the generously vague “other images” category, but, at their most unadorned, comics simply need images put together in a particular order to be comics.

These “wordless comics” still require reading, just of a different sort. Images, on a spectrum of realistic to abstract, are associated with each other and meaning is made, just as with interpreting letters and words. Wordless comics use “silence” to their advantage by necessitating a closer reading of the colors, backgrounds, moods, layouts, line-work, and body language of the characters.

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Avengers Spoiler Alert: Andy Serkis is playing WHO?

Ms. Marvel, White Wolf, Mantis, Drax, Falcon, Peter Dinklage as Pip the Troll!… Just when you thought the burgeoning cast of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe couldn’t get any more crowded, Hollywood Insider has gained access to leaked scripts for an as-yet-untitled Avengers movie due out in April 2020 that reveal a veritable avalanche of new characters, and a stunning new merger of beloved comics franchises. Continue reading “Avengers Spoiler Alert: Andy Serkis is playing WHO?”

Comics Anthologies

Sequential art is a very flexible storytelling medium. Styles range from serialized or one-shot stories, published as individual comics issues and larger graphic novels, to very short comic strips and political cartoons. A favorite comics type of mine is the thematic comics anthology.

Anthologies tend to highlight stories from up-and-coming creators, creators from under-represented groups (including #ownvoices stories), and often feature supposedly “less marketable” subject matter. They are generally short stories of a few pages each, not the typical 22-page or longer comics story. They are sometimes financed outright by traditional publishers, but nowadays the trend seems to be moving towards crowdfunding.

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Own Voices Comics

#ownvoices is a social media hashtag, first suggested on Twitter by Corinne Duyvis in September 2015 as a tool “to recommend kidlit about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group”. It is related to, and overlaps with, the “We Need Diverse Books” movement/non-profit organization. As a tool and a movement, #ownvoices can be used to describe any marginalized group within any genre of any art form; it is purposefully unrestrictive.

Try out these #ownvoices comics in The Seattle Public Library collection, where the creators (writer[s]) or artist[s]) share a marginalized identity with a protagonist:

The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Sonny Liew

The Eisner Award winning graphic novel from Singaporean-based Malaysian creator Sonny Liew tells the fictional story of Singaporean comics creator Charlie Chan Hock Chye, whose life and art parallel and evolve alongside the actual history of modern Singapore.

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Kickstarter Comics at the Library

Generally comic book collections or original graphic novels are purchased by the Library from a book distributor. The titles offered by these companies typically include materials from major publishing companies. But many wonderful titles are produced by smaller presses or individuals, and funded through crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter. Many of these titles, after their initial Kickstarter printing, are picked up and reprinted by a larger publisher such as Boom! Studios or Image Comics.

The Library purchases materials from these publishers as a way to diversify the collection and support independent and oft-marginalized creators. Many of the stories told in these books unfortunately aren’t found at larger presses. Take a look at these recently crowd-funded comics and graphic novels in The Seattle Public Library collection, and Continue reading “Kickstarter Comics at the Library”