Graphic novels are where visual art and words get together to tell exciting, interesting, and captivating stories. If they are new to you, you may be wondering how to read a graphic novel. Well, don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it may seem at first glance. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be ready to dive into vibrant worlds and stories.
What Is a Graphic Novel?
A graphic novel combines visual art with written narratives. As such, it’s a form of storytelling and it takes a variety of genres. Including fantasy, horror, science fiction, historical narratives, and more.
Graphic novels are longer than comic books and they present self-contained stories that can take one or several volumes. The reason people love graphic novels so much is that they blend dynamic visuals with storytelling in a very captivating way. Reading a graphic novel feels like plunging into the story, which provides a rich experience.
What Are the Types of Graphic Novels?
Graphic novels exist in a variety of genres and formats, so it would be a bit overwhelming to name them all here. However, let’s discuss some of the most common types of graphic novels to give you a general idea:
Fictional graphic novels tell fictional stories, so there are many genres within this category. Including horror, fantasy, romance, mystery, science fiction, and drama. "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi is a great example of this type of graphic novel.
Contrary to fictional graphic novels, non-fiction ones are based on real people and events. They discuss a great variety of topics, including social issues, history, biographies, journalism, and more. An example would be "The Arab of the Future" by Riad Sattouf.
Manga is an incredibly popular type of graphic novel and it’s differentiated by its Japanese style. The genres vary greatly, including horror, adventure, fantasy, action, and more. Manga examples include “Attack on Titan” by Hajime Isayama and “Death Note” by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.
Adaptations are a lot of fun because they take stories we know and love and bring them to life with incredible visual art. A great example of this type of graphic novel would be “The Hobbit”, written by J.R.R. Tolkien and adapted by Chuck Dixon and David Wenzel.
Keep in mind there are many more types of graphic novels and the medium continues to evolve every year. So, there’s no shortage of stories and styles to explore.
20 Best Graphic Novels You Should Read
To help you find some amazing graphic novels to read, here are 20 of the most popular options:
- “Watchmen” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Meet a group of flawed superheroes and discover how they impact the world.
- “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. This is a coming-of-age memoir set in Iran’s Islamic revolution.
- “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. This graphic novel won a Pulitzer Prize and it’s a moving Holocaust memoir.
- “The Sandman” by Neil Gaiman. This one is full of horror, fantasy, and mythology, so it’s a must-read if you like any of those genres.
- “Scott Pilgrim” series by Bryan Lee O’Malley. This is a very humorous and quirky series you will have a lot of fun with.
- “The Walking Dead” series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. This is among the most popular graphic novels because it’s gritty and very intense.
- “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. If you like dystopian stories, this one is right up your alley.
- "The Dark Knight Returns" by Frank Miller. This is a classic by now and a must for any Batman fans out there.
- “Sin City” series by Frank Miller. This is a noir graphic novel where you explore a violent underworld filled with antiheroes, femme fatales, and a lot of corruption.
- “Locke & Key” by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. If you’re in the mood for supernatural horror and a lot of entertainment, check this one out.
- "Saga" by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This one is a space opera that explores themes like war, love, and family. The story is epic and the visual art is stunning.
- “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel. This is a memoir that explores themes like identity, family, and sexuality. It’s quite introspective and thought-provoking.
- “Ghost World” by Daniel Clowes. A cult classic, this graphic novel follows two teen girls as they face complex relationships and the many challenges of growing up.
- “Monstress” by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. This steampunk saga is known for its beauty and gruesomeness.
- “Bone” by Jeff Smith. In this graphic novel, you follow three cousins on a quest bursting with mystery, creatures, and a lot of magic.
- “Blackbird” by Sam Humphries and Jen Bartel. It follows a girl struggling with mental health determined to provide magic is real and dangerous too.
- "Blankets" by Craig Thompson. This is another coming-of-age story that explores themes like faith, self-discovery, and love.
- "Preacher" by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. If you’re in the mood for dark and irreverent, you should grab this one. It follows a possessed preacher looking to confront God.
- "Nimona" by Noelle Stevenson. This is another fun and quirky graphic novel option full of adventure. It explores themes like friendship and morality.
- “The Tea Dragon Society” by Katie O’Neill. Last but not least, this is a heartwarming story, perfect for when you need a pick-me-up.
How to Read Graphic Novels in 5 Easy Steps
Now, let’s get into the quick and easy guide on how to read a graphic novel. The first thing you need to do is choose the graphic novel you want to read. Once you do that, follow these steps:
1. Get Familiar with the Format
When you have the graphic novel you want to read, flip through it and get familiar with the layout. Don’t start reading just yet. Focus simply on taking in the way the panels are arranged and how the images interact with the text. This way, you’ll know what to expect when you start reading.
2. Read the Graphic Novel Sequentially
As mentioned earlier, graphic novels are made up of panels. Panels are individual frames that contain the visual art and the text. The right way to read a graphic novel is from left to right and top to bottom.
That’s the way the story flows. Now, this might take you a little while to get used to. After all, we usually read from left to right. Naturally, your brain will take a moment to adjust. Read carefully and pay attention, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
3. Pay Close Attention to the Artwork
Paying attention to the artwork is as important as reading the words. The illustrations are essential to the story. So, take a moment to appreciate everything the artwork is conveying to you. Look at the styles, the colors, the details, the expressions of the characters, the actions, and the settings. All these elements enhance the story.
4. Read the Dialogue, Captions, and Sound Effects
Needless to say, you have to read the dialogue, captions, and sound effects. That’s where the plot of the story is and it’s also where you’ll find all the interactions. The dialogue will appear in speech bubbles and the captions will be in boxes or panels.
Sound effects are usually depicted visually, so they’re very difficult to miss. Get into the story by paying attention to them. They can add more depth to what you’re reading. We recommend you even say them out loud. Have fun with it!
5. Interpret and Engage
As you read the graphic novel, you need to interpret the panels. The more you read graphic novels, the more you’ll realize that the panels determine the rhythm, pacing, and tone of the story. Moreover, engage with the story. Think about the themes, connect with characters emotionally, interpret the actions, and reflect on what things mean.
Bonus Tip: Use the Best Note-Taking Tool for Reading
Taking notes while you read a graphic novel or a normal book is a great way to make sense of things and engage with the story. With UPDF, you can scan your graphic novel on your iPhone and convert it to PDF so you can annotate what you’re reading.
UPDF is an amazing note-taking tool that offers a variety of features. It allows you to draw, add shapes, highlight, and underline on your PDF books. Moreover, you can convert PDFs, edit them with a variety of features, and keep them organized in one place. If you usually annotate your books, reading a graphic novel or books shouldn’t stop you. Especially not when UPDF is available! Here are the key features that PDF offers.
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- Annotate PDF with sticky notes, text comments, highlights, adding shapes, drawings, adding signatures, adding stamps, adding stickers, and more.
- Edit PDF. It allows you to change its font, color, size, etc. You can also add texts, pictures, and links to PDF. If you need, you can also add watermarks, header and footer, and background to PDF.
- Customize, organize, and manage PDF pages. It supports Cropping, deleting, inserting, replacing, extracting, rotating, and splitting PDF pages.
- Convert PDF to any format. Even if you have a scanned PDF file, you can convert it to an editable one with OCR.
- The batch process saves you a lot of time. It provides batch convert, insert, combine, print, and encrypt at the moment.
Now that you know how to read a graphic novel, what are you waiting for? You will discover incredible stories that will make you feel many different emotions, think about a variety of topics, and reflect on meaningful things. Use UPDF to annotate your graphic novels and enjoy your reading even more!
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