V for Vendetta V for Vendetta question

Graphic Novels: Literature or Not?
Jess Jess Aug 01, 2014 02:15PM
I personally think V for Vendetta has literary significance and tells an amazing story about personal identity so far as to be my personal favorite. It tells a good story yes, but the visual experience of how it's drawn is just another layer that adds to the experience. I like novels and study them too, but I am a little skeptical about what credibility that gives me as a future author if I say one of my primary inspirations and favorite is a picture book. So to beat a dead horse, I still don't have an answer to the question of are graphic novels considered legitimate literature or not, what do you think?

I got two words for you--The Sandman. If the amount of allusions to "real" literature alone don't qualify it, the amazing storytelling does. Shakespeare is a recurring character for christ's sake.

Chris Sandman is one of my favorites! Of course anything Neil Gaiman does is golden in my book.
Apr 23, 2015 01:09PM · flag

yes. It is. More than plenty of old school books had images with or associated with them. Where you want to draw the line with how many pictures is subjective, but I'd say a 'picture book' is an book of annotated pictures, where a graphic novel, or any comic, is a written body of work with mutually collaborative artwork. Frankly I don't mind if the author wants to portray his story through images and/or words, if its a bundle of pages between two covers i allow it to be literature =)

I am going to go opposite than most and say no it's not literature.It's completely different art form.

Why?Because like movies or animated films it relies on it's visual part as much as on writing to tell the story.

Literature is defined as a a body of written work. The etymological meaning of the word comes from the Latin for "writing formed with letter." I do not believe that graphic novels fall under that definition as the work focuses mainly on visuals. Well done graphic novels, like V for Vendetta are certainly works of art which can be just as significant as literature.

Any kind of generalization is wrong, and there are graphic novels that have literary significance, and there are novels and stories that do not have. There are great graphic novels whose stories make you think about existence, spirituality, life in general, and there're those which rely more on entertaining values... Both are works of art, and I would say to eliminate them from "literature" category would be presumptuous and pretty wrong.

On second ball, I've never heard someone complaining about graphic novels not being literature (they're well represented on book fairs, in libraries, on bookstore shelves...) so I guess it's minor "standards" issue.

M 25x33
Goran K Off course, my comment was about the argument that graphic novels are usually childish and without deeper meaning.
Jan 29, 2015 02:56AM

Of course graphic novels and comics can be literature. Obviously not all of it is good literature, much like many books are not good literature.

But if you doubt that graphic novels and comics can be literature then all you have do is read something like Maus or Alan Moores Swamp Thing.

Erick (last edited Jan 20, 2015 12:16PM ) Jan 20, 2015 12:12PM   0 votes
I have to agree with everyone's comments here. The comic/graphic novel is without a doubt literature. Like any other form of storytelling, it has the good and bad. But then, that's just a matter of personal taste, right?
Unfortunately, in our country (U.S.), the medium is just not given the recognition, credibility and respect like that of the novel/prose story. After all these years its still viewed as something for children, shut-ins or some such. Even film and television are considered valid. Which is funny since the comic book and/or graphic novel was invented in this country.

The first I ever really read a comic or graphic novel was Maus - read for a college literature course.

Now I liked Maus but I didn't think of it as literature. But as time went on and there were more and more movies with very deep compelling themes that I realized were graphic novels, my thoughts changed and I still don't know if I'd call them literature but I would say that they are as important as literature.

I loved Road to Perdition - as something I considered to be a great story.

However, of course, Gaiman was a big hit with me and most people I know.

Sophie (last edited Dec 03, 2014 12:55AM ) Dec 03, 2014 12:53AM   0 votes
in general? Yes! V for vendetta? HELL YES! not only that but there art too. some are good some arnt. some are pulp some are epic.

Of course they are literature.
Let us not forget that the first time experience with books in the life of a little human is with... picture books!

Considering that words, as we understand them, are only a series of small pictures that 'readers' agree meaning for, all books are a graphic narrative, of a sort.

Years ago the novel / novella was looked down upon as a tawdry medium, not worthy of respect, due to its brevity and popularity. Then that format got its stars who used its forms to create wonderful things.

The chattering classes may still look down upon Comics but with so many of the writers and artists (visual or otherwise) today surely the medium of the comic, whether graphic novel or not, is elevating.

Comics are a viable form of literature.

Absolutely!Also, people are saying only graphic novels like V and From Hell are literature, but i think that superhero comics are the same - for example anything Grant Morrison has done for DC is as structured as any novel I've read.

i've never actually heard someone make the case that it isn't. and i think i'd go as far as to say that if one can't appreciate the graphic medium as art, then they probably can't appreciate literature as art.

deleted member Aug 02, 2014 08:47AM   0 votes
I think the answer is a very obvious one.

They are literature as many great books and short stories are being adapted into the graphic novel format. They make an awesome way to introduce classics to children who may not be ready for reading the full book. My son has pointed out to me that some of my favorite books have become graphic novel like Servant of the Bones and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. And at my local library I have found tucked in with Sandman and V for Vendetta Edgar Allen Poe.

Just as literature has been often judged by its style and composure, I think graphic novels artwork alone can be judged on the same plane. The stylistic subtleties (for instance the use of under the radar artistic foreshadowing in works such as 'V for Vendetta,' 'Watchmen,' even 'Wolverine: Origins'). Ignoring the fact that many of these graphic novels contain the same amount of actual words as your average novella (around 30,000 words, which could already technically qualify them as literature), and just examining the composure of the illustration, one can see that it takes a certain storytelling skill to include a lot of the nuances that these creators have made. So, yes, I would say that graphic novels can be considered 'literature.'

Any possible answer is a false answer.

I think yes. It's the same as Erotica. Some people like to down play it or doubt it's credulity, but it is another form of storytelling. And if one person likes it or is inspired by it; touched by it, then it is literature.

No, it's not literature. Alan Moore is not Shakespeare. Then again. Ingmar Bergman is not Shakespeare and movies are not literature. Comic books are an art form, yeah, but not literature. Literature is made with works. Comics are made with words and/or pictures.

Comics books must not be seen condescendingly, but we don't either need to call them literature, because that is also a form of disrespect to this art form. It would be the same as if we would only respect Mozart because we call his art literature, but it's not.

I can't help but think that you're saying that V should be considered literature because it's layered and complex. If that's the case, then isn't the term "literature" subjective. I can't help but feel like we're trying to justify reading comic books and graphic novels by saying they don't belong next to the Batman's and X-Men's. This conversation shows up all the time in regards to the medium. I say read what makes you happy, and don't worry about the brow height. I just finished reading V, moved onto Daredevil: Born Again, and then just picked up New Mutants: Return of Legion. Whether those three are considered high art, genre escapism, or somewhere in between, I don't care. I just like well made storytelling.

This is not a very meaningful question, as currently phrased. If you mean "are graphic novels the same as books," then the answer is clearly "no." Graphic novels are a different form than novels, just as movies are a different form than photographs.

If you mean "can you tell a story with artistic significance through a graphic novel in a way analogous to a novel," then the answer is plainly "yes." There is nothing inherent in the combination of pictures with words that renders stories artistically invalid, incapable of depth or otherwise unworthy of deep thought, the same way that traditional literature is. Many of the same ways of thinking that are useful in the analysis and appreciation of novels are equally applicable to graphic novels. At the same time, graphic novels, like all comics, convey information through their illustrations and through page layout, juxtaposition and manipulation of conventions. All of these things are used, also, in cinema, and so many of film theory's modes of analysis are also fruitful when applied to graphic novels.

I'd recommend you read Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" for a fuller explanation.

Emily (last edited Jan 28, 2015 03:13AM ) Jan 28, 2015 03:12AM   0 votes
I think it is, yes. I've read many comics and graphic novels as well as books with just text. There might not be as much text to read, but you still have to essentially read the images and make sense of them, it can actually be quite a participatory experience. You decide what order you read the text in and you decide how to interpret the images and the pace in which you interpret them. Definitely not the same as watching a film. I spend as much time reading the images as the text. Like a lot of people say, it depends on your definition of literature. If it isn't exactly literature, I think it should be considered on the same level as it, due to how powerful the medium can be. It should be given as much credit, therefore I'm more than happy to refer to it as literature.

I think the graphic novels like V have a more direct way to tell a story than a book, using succinct language and powerful images that in a sense replace your brain work creating the images for the words. When a read V or Neil Gaiman's graphic novels, there is no doubt for me its literature.

deleted member (last edited Jan 29, 2015 09:42AM ) Jan 28, 2015 03:45AM   -1 votes
I don't think all comics/graphic novels are literature; it's just presumptuous to say that NONE of them are.

Well Yes. Literary Significance is a very broad Idea to begin with. Whether it's individually or culturally perceived so, Graphic novels are certainly significant.
Some have a more obvious impact such as V, Watchmen, The Crow etc, some not so obvious such as Marvel and DC contribution to our culture. And Some on a more personal level such as the large amount of us who learned to read and love it by reading Spider-Man, F4, Ghost Rider, Devil Dinosaur (a personal list)and on and on.

They have literary significance if they are written the way V for Vendetta is written. It is just not entertainment it makes u think and characters are drawn just like any literary piece, not just plot but characters are given significance.Pictures add value to the story, It gives your imagination a way to think, it gives words an another dimension.

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