The Graphic Novel: An Introduction

Overview

This book provides both students and scholars with a critical and historical introduction to the graphic novel. Jan Baetens and Hugo Frey explore this exciting form of visual and literary communication, showing readers how to situate and analyze graphic novels since their rise to prominence half a century ago. Several key questions are addressed: What is the graphic novel? How do we read graphic novels as narrative forms? Why is page design and publishing format so significant? What theories are developing to ...

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Overview

This book provides both students and scholars with a critical and historical introduction to the graphic novel. Jan Baetens and Hugo Frey explore this exciting form of visual and literary communication, showing readers how to situate and analyze graphic novels since their rise to prominence half a century ago. Several key questions are addressed: What is the graphic novel? How do we read graphic novels as narrative forms? Why is page design and publishing format so significant? What theories are developing to explain the genre? How is this form blurring the categories of high and popular literature? Why are graphic novelists nostalgic for the old comics? The authors address these and many other questions raised by the genre. Through their analysis of the works of many well-known graphic novelists – including Bechdel, Clowes, Spiegelman and Ware – Baetens and Frey offer significant insights for future teaching and research on the graphic novel.

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Meet the Author

Jan Baetens is Professor of Cultural and Literary Studies at the University of Leuven. His main research areas are modern French poetry and word and image studies, mainly in so-called minor genres such as comics, photonovels and novelisations. He is the author of some fifteen volumes (among which is a classic volume on Tintin, 2006) and has published widely in journals such as Critical Inquiry, PMLA, History of Photography, Poetics Today, Yale French Studies, Poétique, English Language Notes, Romanic Review, and French Forum. In 2007–8 Baetens was the holder of a Belgian Francqui Chair, and the same year he was awarded the triennial prize of poetry of Francophone Belgium.

Hugo Frey is Head of Department and Reader in History at the University of Chichester. He is the author of Louis Malle (2004) and Cinema and Nationalism in France: Political Mythologies and Film Events, 1945–1995 (2014). He has published articles on historiography, cinema and bande dessinée in journals such as Contemporary French Civilization, the Journal of European Studies, South Central Review and Yale French Studies. Recent publications include a critique of the politics of Renaud Camus for Ralph Sarkonak, ed., Les Spirales du sens chez Renaud Camus (2010). In autumn 2013, he was invited to lecture for The Prince's Teaching Institute, London.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the graphic novel: a special type of comic book; 2. Adult comics before the graphic novel: from moral panic to pop art sensationalism, 1945–67; 3. Underground comix and mainstream evolutions, 1968–80; 4. 'Not just for kids': clever comics and the new graphic novels; 5. Understanding panel and page layouts; 6. Drawing and style, word and image; 7. The graphic novel as a specific form of storytelling; 8. The graphic novel and literary fiction: exchanges, interplays and fusions; 9. Nostalgia and the return of history.

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