Hanako and Nene from the manga Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun

Comics: Art, Words and Storytelling, All in One

It’s a good deal, really. Comics, graphic novels… all of them are a good combination of art, words, and above all, storytelling.

Let me tell you, some time ago, I held a terrible attitude towards comics. Somehow my primary school teachers had beaten it into my mind that comics were only for children and weren’t an “official” way of telling stories, that they were only flimsy things that people read for fun but that reading comics would ultimately make you dumber than the average person and held no substantial value. Being the ridiculous, foolish child I was, I gave up on comics and graphic novels in favour of lengthy novels, preferring words over the tempting mixture of words with art and colour.

The truth is that comics and graphic novels can be beautiful forms of storytelling and shouldn’t be underestimated. This form of storytelling is no more inferior than storytelling with only words.

You could be thinking, wow genius, how did you come to this realisation? The answer’s simple, really. I just dabbled in the genre and read some of the stuff myself.

Here are some lovely recommendations that helped me open up to this genre.

Comics & Graphic Novels

The Sandman

I named this blog “Words & Nocturnes” after the Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes. The Sandman was the first ever graphic novel I had read. It was the one that showed me that comics can be a beautiful method of storytelling, something I had previously not given much thought about. The many panels filled with art, colour, and words were just as brilliant as a thick novel full of words that told a fantastic story. The Sandman is made up of many stories that are included in the overarching story. One can say that these little stories are just as important as the overarching story. They add value to each other, telling a grand story, a feat that should definitely not be underestimated.

Ava’s Demon

Ava’s Demon is a webcomic by Michelle Czajkowski (@tinypainty) that has an original storyline, lush colours, and enchanting imagery. Demons and magic mingle openly with people and alchemy. However, so far there have been a number of the characters that I feel have clichéd storylines that don’t pique my interest, but Ava’s Demon hasn’t been completed yet, so I hope the plot will progress along well and perhaps prove me wrong about my thoughts with some fine twists and turns or whatever it takes to get to an amazing end.

Peanuts

This classic by Charles M. Schulz was what I obsessed over when I was younger. There aren’t much grand storylines or fantastical escapades in Peanuts as it is mostly comprised of slice of life moments. When I was younger, Peanuts seemed like a cutesy sort of story that revolved around the ridiculous acts and thoughts children have. However, in my recent rereads, Peanuts wasn’t just good ol’ Charlie Brown failing but never giving up. It wasn’t just Snoopy being marvellously imaginative and flying his doghouse plane against the Red Baron. The Exemplary Narcissism of Snoopy explains this very well.

Source: Peanuts

Manga

Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun (Toilet Bound Hanako-kun)

The art and the storyline in Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun by AidaIro (@aidairo2009) about ghosts, deals and supernatural beings are absolutely beautiful and detailed. The characters are lovable and the elements in the story are magical and more emotional than I would have expected.There seems to be an awful lot of details hidden in between dialogue and the art, or that could be me reading too many theories online.

Noragami (Stray Gods)

Noragami surprised me with its fantastic cast of characters and thrilling twists and turns. Adachitoka does a marvellous job at portraying the characters’ emotions and creating a sense of belonging as well as disconnectedness between characters. It is similar to Jibaku Shounen Hanako-kun (JSHK) in some ways, but it is still unique in its own way, and the emotional drives between both stories can be very different.

SPY X FAMILY

SPY X FAMILY by Tatsuya Endo (@_tatsuyaendo_ ) surprised me with its simple yet adorable art and its refreshing story. The characters are fun and the plot is exciting and makes one wonder what could come next. It’s a fairly new manga, but it’s one that I’ve enjoyed immensely so far. Definitely worth checking out.

Webtoon

The Reaper and the Waiting

The Reaper and the Waiting is a comic by January Sun (@jayyesart). The art is marvellously detailed, and the vibrant colours make every panel a delight. The story is centred around a reaper and a spirit who wants to remind the reaper of the past, drawing inspiration from Chinese clothing and surroundings to create a beautiful world of its own. It’s just begun, but so far contains a lot of potential to go on with its way, becoming a fully-fledged story that will no doubt captivate many.

So these are some picks that introduced me to the wide world of comics and graphic novels. They have really made me wonder about my reading tastes and have made me believe that different ways of storytelling can be just as wonderful as plain text. There really is much to discover in the world of stories, and different formats of storytelling shouldn’t be pushed away, like in the case of my younger self.

Do you read any comics and/or graphic novels? What do you think of them? Do you have any favourites, or have you read any of the titles I’ve mentioned?

Header Source: meteorshino’s edits

9 thoughts on “Comics: Art, Words and Storytelling, All in One”

  1. I know a bit about the theory of comics from various literature courses I’ve taken, but you’re right that the best way to get into comics is to try reading some! A friend recommended “The Sandman” to me, but I’ve still not gotten around to it yet – thanks for the reminder.

    My current favourite graphic novel is Raymond Briggs’ “When the Wind Blows”, from 1982. It’s a somewhat grim story about how an elderly couple in rural England are affected by a nuclear bomb. It’s the graphic novel that began to change perceptions of the genre in Britain – this wasn’t a kids’ thing, and comics could tell stories for adults too.

    Earlier this year I read “Illegal” (2018) by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and Giovanni Rigano – it’s a story about unaccompanied child migrants (similarly tough subject matter). I’m not sure I would have picked up a novel on the subject but as a graphic novel it was really engaging.

    “Ava’s Demon” seems really cool – thanks for the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I truly underestimated the power of storytelling through comics, so it was nice to be proven wrong in this case! I haven’t heard of When the Wind Blows or Illegal, but the topics sounds fascinating. It’s amazing how many diverse stories are still out there left untold. Perhaps comics can give more exposure to these views and issues!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I get what you mean- I had a bad attitude to comics for the longest time too. I’m glad I outgrew it or I’d be missing out. Funnily enough, Sandman is one of the first GNs I read as well and I loved it. That is a great snippet from Snoopy as well! Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The number of times I’ve been told that comics are for very young children and “they won’t help you learn or grow” is part of the reasons behind people having misconceptions or bad attitudes towards comics, I think (at least that is according to my experience). Haha I’m glad that The Sandman is out there changing our perceptions of comics and GNs. It makes me hope that more people know that comics aren’t all about superheroes (though they’re plenty good fun too). Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post 🙂 I used to be a big fan of manga but haven’t been in touch with the newer titles. Thank you for these recommendations! Spy X Family looks like a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m new to manga and I didn’t use to think much of it so the ones I’ve read have really surprised me! And it’s a good reminder not to be so judgemental when it comes to new things.

      Liked by 1 person

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