Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Graphic Novels and Manga: Graphic Novels

Guide for Library Research on Graphic Novels and Manga

What are Graphic Novels?

 

What are Graphic Novels?

Graphic novels are stories collected in book format that are told using art, usually in comic book or comic strip style.  Though the first graphic novels began appearing in the United States in the late 1970s and early-to-mid 1980s, the format did not break into the mainstream until the beginning of the 21st century when comic book publishers wished to begin to join manga publishers moving into the bookstore market.

Graphic Novels Exhibit

Graphic Novels Exhibit

From February through April 2013 the Library put together an exhibit focusing on Graphic Novels. Click here and here to take a look at some photos!

The End!

The End!

Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross

PN6727.W26 K56 2012

The End!

Watchmen by Alan Moore

PN6737.M66 W38 2005b

Joe Kubert

Joe Kubert

Yossel by Joe Kubert

PN6727.K77 Y67 2011

Storytelling and Visual Narrative

Storytelling and Visual Narrative

Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative
by Will Eisner
PN6710 .E57 2008

Reading Comics

Reading Comics

Reading comics : How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean
by Douglas Wolk
PN6725 .W65 2007

Types of Graphic Novels

Types of Graphic Novels

When reading or discussing any graphic novels, its important to understand some background about them. First, remember that most (though not all) graphic novels in the United States start as comic books. Many graphic novels are basically bound collections of these comics. Second, there are generally two broad but different types of graphic novels; there are superhero oriented graphic novels and non-superhero oriented graphic novels.

When comic books first began to be published in the 1930s, the material was diverse and covered a variety of genres.  Though the most popular and apparently long lasting were superheroes (Superman appeared in 1938, Batman in 1939), those were not the only stories being told. Over the years concerns about comics and their content led to the creation of the Comic Code Authority (CCA). Because it was publishing doom to not get a seal of approval from the CCA, publishers began to shrink the material that they covered mostly into superheroes. Even today when the CCA is no longer an issue, the majority of material put out by American publishers is superhero heavy.

In the mid-1980s, cartoonists, artists, and writers began to explore telling stories using comic book format but not limiting themselves to superhero topics or even to superheroes at all. The prototype for this was Will Eisner, who in the late 1970s released his "Contract with God" series, telling the realistic adventures and misadentures of ordinary people living in the immigrant neighborhoods of the turn of the 20th century Bronx.  But this non-superhero approach to storytelling only really became a hit in 1986 with the publication of "Maus" by Art Spiegelman.  "Maus" was the story of Art Spiegelman's father Vladeck during the Holocaust.  What was considered revolutionary about the story was not only that Speigelman told the story in comic book format but that he used animals to represent all the different groups involved (i.e. Jews were drawn as mice, Germans as cats, French as frogs, etc...)  That is when using a comic book and graphic novel format began to be seen as a respectable method of storytelling.

Meanwhile, at the same time that "Maus" was stretching the boundaries of graphic novel storytelling, superhero comics began to get a makeover as new writers began to rework the characters into more serious versions of themselves.  This was the era when Batman became the Dark Knight that we are familiar with, when Daredevil stopped being a blind Spider-Man and suddenly discovered deep and grim roots as well as faith, and of course when Watchmen appeared to redefine the idea of how we might look at the interactions between heroes and villains.  Today, there are a variety of materials to satisfy the pleasure of the reading public.  There are still superhero stories but the field is no longer limited to them; like other forms of reading, graphic novels can cover anything and everything.

Recommended Books

Recommended Books

If you are interested in the history and development of the field of graphic novels, take a look at some of these books:

The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels
by Fingeroth, Danny
Non-Circulating - Reference - PN6710 .F56 2008

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels
by Francisca GoldSmith
Z692.G7 G655 2010

Graphic novels: Everything You Need To Know
by Paul Gravett
Non-Circulating - Reference - PN6710 .G74 2005b

500 Essential Graphic Novels
by Gene Kannenberg
Non-Circulating - Reference - PN6710 .K35 2008

The 101 Best Graphic Novels
by Stephen Weiner
Non-Circulating - Reference - PN6710 W45 2005

Take A Look!

Take A Look!

Astro City: The Tarnished Angel by Kurt Buseik
PN6728.A79 B87 2000

At the Movies!

In case you didn't realize it, we are currently living in the golden age of comic book/graphic novel based movies. Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman, Watchmen, among others are only the beginning with studios planning to bring much more material to the screen over the coming years. Watch the movie and then take a look at the original source material. They aren't always the same!

Batman!

Batman!

Batman the Long Halloween by Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale
PN6728.B36 L647 2012

Batman!

Batman The Dark Knight Returns by Frabk Miller

PN6728.B36 M545 2002

Batman!

Batman Year One by Frank Miller

PN6728.B36 M547 2005

Batman!

Batman The Killing Joke by Alan Moore

PN6728.B36M663 2008

Will Eisner

Will Eisner

The Contract With God Trilogy
PN6727.E4 A6 2006

 Will Eisner

Will Eisner’s New York: Life in the Big City
PN6727.E4 A6 2006b

 Will Eisner

The Plot Will Eisner
DS145.P7 E37 2005

 Will Eisner

Last Day in Vietnam Will Eisner
PN6727.E4 L43 2000

 Will Eisner

Minor Miracles Will Eisner
PN6727.E4 M56 2009

The Ten Cent Plague

The Ten Cent Plague

The Ten-cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America
by David Hajdu
PN6725 .H33 2008