Are graphic novels the same as comics

What the # @! :-(! Are graphic novels exactly?

A largely successfully revised introductory and overview volume is dedicated to a diverse sub-genre of comic literature

From Stefan Elit

Discussed books / references

In the broad field of comics, graphic novels have also flourished in German-speaking countries in recent decades, at least as far as the use of this generic term for an ever wider segment of longer book-like comic publications is concerned, and perhaps something will soon be established in the general book trade, at least in this country is already the case in the Anglo-American region: next to the shelf signs 'Romane', 'Fantasy' and 'Manga' there is no longer any 'comic', but quasi-hyperonymically 'graphic novels', and underneath are all forms of comics, who have usually made it to the at least fifty-page publication with somewhat more valuable book covers, regardless of whether there are well-known series heroes booklet contents, collections of cartoons, artful novelistic picture stories or, in the narrower sense, non-serial picture-text narratives with a novel-like structure .

If the term graphic novel is 'used' in this way, from a market economy point of view it is increasingly a question of labeling that - beyond the strong manga sector - is intended to help a publishing sector that has got into a sales crisis to regain its shine. Correspondingly, numerous comic researchers are skeptical about the forced use of the term, which means that the new label will not only be used by publishing capitalists, but also by conservative educated citizens, or at least For these - as buyers who finally appreciate the comic genre. Graphic novel may in this respect also serve to delimit a new, highly cultural sub-genre from the broad mass of all-too-popular cultural comic sections.

At first glance, this special issue of the magazine seems to be Text + criticism to represent a confirmation of this development, which would have reached literary studies as well, since the volume is the refocused version of a previous volume by the same publisher, which became even wider in 2009 Comics, mangas, graphic novels and which was also reviewed in the context of this forum in the same year (compare Stefan Höppner: Vdrawn om life). The previous band already received great praise for its introductory performance in a field that had long been neglected by German studies. However, some criticism also became apparent. This was aimed on the one hand at a lack of engagement with German-speaking comic artists, on the other hand on an insufficient examination of the relationship between literature and comics and finally on an unfulfilled promise of the volume, namely in-depth analyzes, above all of the pictorial narration of comics Offer.

The revised special volume is therefore to be examined on the one hand to determine how convincingly it pursues the newly defined subject of graphic novels and how it can identify it as such beyond labeling and attempted demarcation by educated citizens. On the other hand, according to the 'prehistory' of the tape, it should be asked how the re-cut is presented and whether the aforementioned Monita may even have been taken up and the deficits remedied.

Compared to the previous volume, the first thing to be noted is an expansion from around 270 to 325 pages, which does not go hand in hand with an increase in the absolute number of scientific articles (15 pieces each), but only with one addition on the part of the new volume: the one loosely divided into three chapters comic-style reflection on the genre by Ute Helmbold (Another beer 1-3). The individual contributions are therefore more extensive in themselves. Six of the original 15 essays have been preserved, although these have only been partially expanded and without a strong quantitative effect; In particular, minor updates and reviews of works that have continued to the present day can be found here. Nine new and mostly more comprehensive articles have also been added.

The copied and new articles are mixed together and lined up without any explicit sorting. However, it can be stated that the volume is divided into two generic overview articles, two small series of overviews of great American and French pioneers and initiators of the graphic novel, a fundamental contribution to the question of the autobiographical also in German-language comics and an overview contribution to the German-language graphic novel, followed by a good overview of Ralf König's work. A contribution to the special aesthetics of an action manga subgenre, a contribution to the development of American superhero comics towards the cinematic and graphic novel-like productions of the last few decades, and a contribution to the great question of the relationship between religions are then loosely lined up on the comic and finally a contribution to “text-free visual novels”, which deliberately contrasts the fashionable label with a German-language generic term of an already older provenance.

With a view to the breakdown of the Gand as a whole, one can speak of a successful revision of the previous volume, at least in larger parts. The series of articles on German-speaking countries still appears to be expandable. The final row too Gekiga- Manga, superhero comics, religion and text-free graphic novels are not completely convincing, because the question of the graphic novel is sometimes completely out of focus in the first three of these articles - before it is posed again brilliantly in the very last essay.

For the individual contributions, it can be stated that the pre-emptive discussion of the relationship between comics and literature as well as the genuinely pictorial narration in comics in general and graphic novels in the narrower sense is often present, be it in individual aesthetic or narrative analyzes it in the fundamental reflection of the genre (to be mentioned again here as exemplary with a view to the picture narration: the final article on text-free visual novels, written by Dietrich Grünewald). The general competence to offer larger overviews of sometimes immense literary series and also comprehensive individual oeuvres can also be noted among all contributors, so that the introductory and overview character of the volume is well achieved and secured. At most, one can complain that the close proximity of certain topics and the often far-reaching style lead to redundancies in the reconstructions of genre developments, especially in the US and France. In the sense of the old narrative principle of 'repetition with variation', the new approach to the same turns out to be productive in the reader's perspective, if the most differentiated knowledge arises, so to speak, in the receptive examination of the again and again, but not identical, negotiated objects.

A particularly important level of this 'variable' discussion of the genre is - in addition to that of the fundamental definition of the subgenre - that of the autobiographical, which is pursued in most of the contributions and to one if not the central moment of the graphic novel is explained, which has shaped its development especially from the general field of comics. Here, the series of articles that deal with the autobiographical shows a particularly illuminating difference: while many an essay, be it in an introductory overview, be it with regard to individual graphic novel authors, in an overly rigid calculation or even a delicate biographical search and declaration persists, discusses Kalina Kupczyńska's contribution in particular Poiesis of the autobiographical comic at the highest level of literary theory and consistently avoids simple assignments. With her focus on the great underground authors of the post-war period, she can show that their comic-style autobiographies strongly coincide or are perhaps even correlated with contemporary postmodern developments in deconstructive self-writing. Another, more documentary line of tradition stands on the other hand to this day.

What about the # @!: - ((! Because graphic novels are now accurate cannot be said after reading this volume, but, just as casually, the perplexity is clearly justified - or positively: the historical and aesthetic range of the Works that are in the run-up to this sub-genre term or that can be brought under this term are immense, which is extremely revealing here.