Libraries Promote New Form of Fiction Graphic Novels, Similar to Comic Books, Bring in Younger Readers, Say Suburban Librarians
Sneller, Beth, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Beth Sneller Daily Herald Staff Writer
You may know "Road to Perdition," Tom Hanks' hit summer film, wasn't an original screenplay. You may even be aware it was based on some kind of comic book.
But unless you're a teenager or 20-something comics fanatic, you probably didn't know the dark mobster movie was adapted from a graphic novel.
And you probably have no idea what "graphic novel" means.
You're not alone. Even those who understand the form don't quite have the definition down.
Yet graphic novels are permeating the ranks of young adult readers and, in some circles, are more popular than comic books.
In addition, some area libraries are promoting the relatively new type of fiction for Teen Read Week, which began Sunday.
A graphic novel is a full-length book composed mostly of graphics and dialogue bubbles. Basically, it's a comic book in novel form, and often it's a series of comic books bound in a single volume.
"It's a very popular genre," said Kay Rinella, adult services supervisor for Naper Boulevard Library in Naperville. "These days, comics have sort of been marginalized, but graphic novels have filled that gap."
Graphic novels became prominent in the 1980s, when comic book companies such as DC and Marvel started binding their best series in book form.
It was a novel concept for comic book fans, who were used to getting their Superman or Batman fixes in monthly installments.
Libraries soon started adding comic book collections to their shelves because they were easier to deal with than flimsy magazines.
"A comic book can be so easily damaged," said John Robinson, co- owner of Graham Crackers Comics, a Chicago-area chain. "It's disposable entertainment. But a graphic novel has a spine and can be put on library shelves along with all the rest of the books."
Comic books and graphic novels are equally popular, Robinson said, but have different audiences. …