Graphic Novel

In a now well-cited interview, Art Spiegelman, creator of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Maus, a two-volume memoir-in-comics recounting his parents’ experiences of living through the Holocaust, once famously explained that he had been interested in making a comic book that would require a bookmark (Juno and Spiegelman 1997). Sometimes referred to as the father of the graphic novel, Spiegelman has nonetheless admitted to a beleaguered acceptance of the increased circulation and popularity of a term that he, and other cartoonists, have often seen as troubling. “The Faustian deal is worth making: it keeps my book in print,” he admitted in a more recent interview (Mitchell and Spiegelman 2014, 24). Indeed, the history of the keyword graphic novel is a contentious one, as evidenced by the extent to which it has been variously claimed, defined, or disavowed—as everything from a medium, a genre, a marketing term, a movement, a format, and a form to a way of reading. These discrepancies point to misapprehensions and complexities surrounding the term as well as the ideological and historiographical implications of such categorizing and naming.

This essay may be found on page 119 of the printed volume.

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