Oprah Recommends “Graphic Novels” You’ve Never Heard Of

I fondly remember discussions of how to convince “civilians” to read comics that turned to ways of promoting graphic novels to those who already liked reading books. One of those dreams usually involved Oprah picking a book-format comic for her book club. Well, now, something similar has happened on Oprah.com, with a list of 11 Books You Never Thought You’d Read (But Will Fall in Love With Instantly), all graphic novels.

Except, well, they aren’t. The only ones I’d heard of were the first three, Lynda Barry’s What It Is, Andres Nilsen’s Big Questions, and the graphic biography Feynman. The rest tend towards illustrated poetry (several volumes), a travelogue, art inspired by a novel, and illustrated Craigslist personal ads. There’s a distinct lack of story in these selections, as though a comic, a fully integrated combination of words and images, is still scary. I know that the audience for this list is very different from the usual comic reader, but I get the feeling someone thought it was better to stick with familiar subjects with illustrations than include too many “real” comic works.

I suppose it sounds snobbish for me to be worried about the definition of a comic, but I hate to think of people deluding themselves that they’re into this “graphic novel” trend just because they read a poetry book with some pretty pictures included. Perhaps it’s really an avoidance of story fiction, for what reasons I can’t speculate.

One Response to “Oprah Recommends “Graphic Novels” You’ve Never Heard Of”

  1. Michael Grabowski Says:

    Still, Big Questions is a surprising inclusion for an Oprah-sponsored list, and it would be a kick to see the book club ladies at my job reading that on their lunch breaks because “Oprah” recommended it.




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