As a kid, I remember reading comics called Classics Illustrated. The premise of this series was to adapt literary novels such as Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick (i.e. serious books) into illustrated stories for kids (i.e. “not so serious” books). I’m uncertain if the intent was to introduce these weighty stories to a younger generation or if it was to give more legitimacy to “funny papers”. If these were indeed the goals set by the publishers, they (in my humble opinion) failed miserably.
Comics are still considered, by most readers, to be the country cousin of the literary world. But nothing could be further from the truth. This warped perception, that certain mediums only offer low brow content while others promote more cultivated subject matter, is a fallacy. Since when has the quality of a story been dependent on the way it is presented to the public?
My feelings about what constitutes a “good” or a “bad” yarn has never been contingent on the way I consume it. Every medium offers a panoply of content that ranges in quality from unremarkable to exceptional. And adapting a story from one method of artistic expression to another that is more highly regarded doesn’t magically improve it. For instance, how many of you think that Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was improved upon when brought to the big screen? It is therefore imperative that consumers of literary works become less discriminating of the medium and more critical of the content. Otherwise, they are seriously limiting their accessibility to great stories.
So go ahead. Don’t be afraid. Graphic novels have never been more accessible. Just pick one that suits your taste and enjoy. Just don’t dismiss comic books outright just because they have pictures in them. That would be childish indeed.