So, if you haven’t read it already, here’s it is.

So… *sigh* where to start?

I don’t know Ben Bova or his work (nor I want to know him/it now), so I won’t get into criticizing whatever he has done.

I’m guessing Mr. Bova here comes from the background many people come from: Not REALLY knowing what the hell a graphic novel REALLY is.

Lately, for some reason, everybody is calling comics books that have more than like 80 pages a graphic novel. So they see this collections of Spider-Man or Batman and call them a graphic novel because hey, they are there with all the other graphic novels (I even heard once on a TV show that “they are not called comic books anymore, they are called graphic novels“, needless to say, I wanted to kill myself right there).

Let’s get something clear first. Graphic novels are (in their majority) stand alone stories (but sometimes can come in chapters), mostly aimed for an adult audience and more dense subjects. Those Batman, or Spidey or Wyliman (hey, gotta put me in there somehow) are Trade Paper Backs. Books that collect, in one edition, chapters that originally appeared as single issues in a periodical basis (or in this day an age, whenever the heck creators get off their asses and start working).

And you might say “Well, duh! That’s obvious“. Yeah, well, you’d be surprised.

So, back to Mr. Bova’s statement.

Establishing that this guy might have confused everything comics as graphic novels, what bothered me the most was this quote:

“But War and Peace they’re not. They’re not even Valley of the Dolls.”

Well, a bit of news for you, sir: WE’RE NOT TRYING TO! Why shall we try to be “War and Peace” if there’s already a “War and Peace“? Or ANY mayor novel published to date?

I can’t speak for everyone in the medium, but at least for the ones that try to do something different and relevant, that’s not our aim. At. All. We’re not trying to be the next “War and Peace“, we want to be our OWN thing.

If comic books and graphic novels are taking spaces at book stores, I think that’s GREAT! I don’t see the problem of some variety. And (even pointed out there in the article, him not presenting any evidence of what he’s saying), audio books and comics are NOT reducing the space for novels at the book stores. We are lucky enough we are given the chance now to be there and to prove to everybody we deserve to be there.

Other bit that made my skin crawl was:

“It’s impossible to reproduce a novel’s deep characterizations and nuances of plot development in a comic book format.”

Really? I mean, really?

We work with words too. Not everybody does, but we can use EVERY word in the dictionary to tell a story. Just like you, sir.

But here’s the catch, we use pictures too! And guess what? It ain’t easier that way. Novelists can use as many words they want to describe how a morning felt like, how beautiful a scenery is, how complex a character is. They can go their happy way as long as they want to convey this “deepness and plot development” Mr. Bova says we “toss away“. Not even getting into the ignorant commentary that implies that comics have no plot development, here’s a challenge for you, Mr. Bova: try describing a morning set up with JUST pictures. How about a feeling in ONE picture. One picture, powerful enough that to describe it with words, you would use a full page of text. Go on, give it a try, and get back to me when you do.

See, the big debate for a while now has been that if comic books is a valid form of literature. It’s inclining more to “yes“, but that shouldn’t even be a debate. They are.

But I don’t even see it that way. Why we must keep comparing comics books to regular books? Why we keep perpetuating this sense that we are the bastard child of literature and painting? Why we keep considering comics as a genre and not a medium?

We are our own thing. We are our own medium. We are AS important as any other art form. There is no more debate. We just are. And now stop just thinking about it, and start proving it.

Mario A.~

PS: If you ever come across this kind of people that put down comic books and glorify regular books, remind them ANY argument they have against comics can be perfectly applied as well against books. Any argument.