Monday, 26 September 2011

A Graphic What?

One of the project outputs for identity, is to produce 5000 copies of a 64 page "graphic novel", presenting historical stories and personal heritage back to the community in a way that has not been tried before locally. But what is a "graphic novel"? Is it just a grown up comic? A posh way of saying "cartoon strips"?

Well, here's just one online definition..
"A story whose narrative is related through a combination of text and art, often in comic-strip form." You can read just one of the many histories of the art form here.

Often, comics and graphic novels are assoicated with superheroes, but the form has often been used to tell historical stories, Art Spiegelman's "Maus" explores the horror of the holocaust, with the Jewish characters drawn as mice and the Nazi's as cats; Frank Miller's explosive retelling of the 300 Spartans, "300" turned historical characters into superheroes; and more recently Bryan Talbot's "Alice in Sunderland" is a personal journey through the history and traditions of Northumberland..complete with a Jabberwocky and Sid James. All great, all worth a read.

Many schools of course now recognise the value of visual storytelling and have graphic novels as part of the reading curriculum or in the school library. Most public libraries have had them on the shelves for years. It can be a way to encourage reading, or just as importantly, a completely different way to read altogether, enjoying the fusion of words and images, seeing how one influences the other.

We aren't creating our "graphic novel" and hoping someone snaps up the film rights, but we do feel it is a new way to tell the stories of this area, and a way to reach audiences who maybe have not been interested before.

Six Inverclyde schools have already started researching their stories and preparing their pages; the page above is from St John's Primary School Port Glasgow. We'll be posting more preview pages and character sketches over the next few months as well as some exclusive online content.

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