Because reading is hot.

Is It A Girl Or A Boy?

Wolverine and I had an interesting and good-natured discussion today about gendered books and/or genres.  This is a continuation of a discussion that started way back when we met 10+ years ago. Wolverine loves graphic novels and wants to share that love and passion with me and everyone else he encounters. That’s sweet, isn’t it? He’s such a schmoopie! And, there have been some great graphic novels that have crossed my path, but according to Wolverine, I still don’t read enough of them.

This topic came up today and when Wolverine pitched a title to me (Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series, which is totally on my list, btw). I agreed that I really want to read them.Some day.  But, I also posited that maybe I haven’t been as hot to jump more graphic novels because the majority of them still fall into the category of  sometimes-mostly-kind-of-seemingly-looks-like-they’re-prone-towards being a male-centric (both author and subject) superhero saturated/oriented genre. Whew. (that was fun).

Wolverine suggested that this wasn’t true anymore and that I just may be assuming this genre is still overly male-dominated, when, in fact, it might be reaching toward, or already at, an equal number subjects and authors that go beyond Batman saving and reviving Gotham, yet again.

My assumptions may be based in the 50s and 60s. Not 2010. That’s a real problem: 1) I wasn’t even alive in the 50s or 60s so what am I talking about? and 2) I’ve been close-minded. Ouch. Well, I’m not above admitting he’s right, and he is.  All those testosterone-filled male-oriented superhero comics and graphic novels still exist, no doubt.

But, graphic novels as a genre/medium have really exploded into encompassing all literary avenues. It only took one Google search to confirm that there are plenty of graphic novels that go beyond the superhero trope.  Graphic novels are a great medium to critically look at race, class, gender, and other social issues. One thing writing on a book blog and belonging to a book club should do is expand your mind and your taste in what you read. I agree with Wolverine that this is an underrated genre and that there is a plethora of diverse options to be had. I like superheroes as much as the next reader but I definitely can’t limit myself to them. Wolverine challenged me to read a book HE picks and he will do the same. We’ll see how it goes. He and I don’t have the same taste in literature AT ALL.

Check out some cool titles after the jump! I added most of these to my list to read today, and some I’ve read and recommend like Persopolis (which is an awesome movie too) and Fun-Home Tragicomic, everything by Julie Doucet, and of course Maus I and II by Pulitzer Prize winner Art Spiegelman.

Young Adult:

Boys Over Flowers by Hani Yori Dango

Absolute Boyfriend by Yuu Watase

DramaCon by Sveltlana Chmakova

Girl Stories by Lauren Weinstein

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nate Hale (no relation)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Plain Janes and  Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci

Adult:

I Love Led Zeppelin and Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads by Ellen Forney

Fun Home Tragi-Comic by Allison Bechdel

The Complete Persepolis by Majane Satrapi

The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How it Changed America by David Haju

The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman

Charles Darwin on The Origin of the Species by Michael Keller

Maus I and II by Art Spiegelman

Three Days in Europe by Antony Johnston

Slow News Day and Dumped by Andi Watson

Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story by Frederick Peeters

Shortcomings and Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

French Milk by Lucy Knisley

For more recommendations for teens, adults, and children, go here.

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Comments on: "Is It A Girl Or A Boy?" (2)

  1. supermon said:

    I updated this post a bit because I had a few errors and unfinished thoughts. Please recommend your favorite graphic novels here!

  2. As a typophile would say, get with the Times, New Roman! In this case, I’m glad you’re getting with the Times, New Roman.

    In all seriousness, graphic novels are so great, and while you called out some great ones in your post, don’t be too quick to pass judgment on the, shall we say, less than kosher depiction of women-folk in superhero-y novels. Take the X-Men. Is everyone in Spandex? Yes. If you ignore all that, or accept it for the fun of it, do you still get a rather astute commentary on 1960s America? Yes!

    For the most part, I think the hardest part for newbies is the visual aspect of it. People used to straight on literature have conditioned their brains to take lengthy descriptions and form their own setting and characters. In graphic novels, that fluff is presented to you as the author intended by genius illustrators. My point is, 9 times out of 10 I’d say our imagination and the author’s intent do not jive. Losing that imaginative control can be hard for some people to work with. You’ve just got to embrace it.

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