Graphic Novel

Nowhere has the fissure between adult-sanctioned and self-selected children’s reading been more boldly marked than in regard to comics, an internationally popular form that has often been seen as the province of amoral profiteers rather than a domain of children’s literature. If comics have at last “arrived” as a children’s genre, then this new acceptance has been spurred by enthusiasm for the graphic novel, the bulwark of comics’ recent claims to literariness.

The term “graphic novel” has fuzzy borders and origins. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines “graphic” as “of or pertaining to drawing or painting,” and “novel” as “a long fictional prose narrative,” but the phrase “graphic novel” means more than the sum of its parts. Although the equation, minus the requirement of prose, is not far off the mark, the term’s popular usage more closely reflects a desire to ditch the troublesome word “comics” than it …

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