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Comic books vs. books


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A lot of people say that comic books are of a lesser value than a "real" books; that comic strips belong to a culture of pictures, so are good enough for those who spend their free time watching TV or surfing the Net. It is widely belief that comic books are an obstacle on the way to reading something more serious; that they are mostly aimed at children, and adults, who are wise enough to appreciate literature shouldn't waste time on them.

Is this opinion true? Or rather: is it a rule? Can one person be a bookworm and a comic books fan?
I like to read books and I like to read comic books.
As there are well and badly written books, so too are there well and badly written comic books. I believe that getting a child to read regularly, whatever the medium, can only lead to more reading enjoyment and advancement of reading skills.
It would be great if parents and educators look through the comics to see for themselves if comics tell good stories or are just mindless adventures with pictures, and then suggest titles to children. If a child is reading comics only, they should be encouraged to read books that are similar in subject matter. For instance, if they like reading science fiction comic books, get them to read science fiction stories and books.
So unless there is a study to support what "a lot of people say" about comics being of lesser or no value, I would not take those comments seriously.
I have discussed this issue in the past with one of my sisters, who happens to be a teacher. It is her strongly held belief that reading is reading, whether it be comics, Harry Potter, Marcus the Farting Dog, or Shakespeare. For a child that doesn't read much, comics can be a handy gateway into books. As far as adults go, I can enjoy seeing an opera one night then enjoy watching Tom and Jerry the next morning. Neither are mutually exclusive. Being a bookworm does not mean you can't love comic books.
Idun said:
A lot of people say that comic books are of a lesser value than a "real" books; that comic strips belong to a culture of pictures, so are good enough for those who spend their free time watching TV or surfing the Net

It's said that a picture paints a thousand words; I'd rather read the thousand words. With a picture I can see the place; with a thousand words I can taste it.
Depends on the culture.

In U.S and in Britain the comic book has always been viewed as something for kids and has been written for that age group. Although, over the last 10 years a lot has been done to change this. There are many adult comics but they are not really mainstream and they are only a small percentage of comics published.

In France, and the rest of Europe and in Japan ( manga ) comics are viewed in a much differnt way. They are for all ages and much of it written for adults. The comics run the whole range from art to sf to pulp crime to romance to adventure to even cookery.

I don't think the question can be asked "comics vs books" That is like asking "books vs movies" or asking "movies vs video games." There is no RIGHT answer but only a matter of taste. Also, there are good comic books and bad comic books. There are good books and there are bad books.
I'd like to check out that farting dog book. Is it a comic? I don't know about seeing the pictures though.
LOL!!! Not a comic book. I made up the name Marcus, because I couldn't remember the dog's name but there really is a series of children's books titled "...the Farting Dog". The dog's little (big) odor problem causes all kinds of trouble. It is hilarious. Great for boys in the 8-13 yo age range.

A large part of learning to read well is using context clues to develop meaning from confusing words, paragraphs, or situations. Pictures are an acceptable and respectable form of context clues... They are no less subtle or complicated than text, just a bit more readily digestable because pictures are a natural form of communication, where as written words are a learned format... Anyone disparaging comics simply because of the format is just being a snob... Yes many comics are poorly written, but so are many films. This fact doesn't mean that a well done film isn't worth seeing and it doesn't mean that comics which are well written aren't worth reading. The problem is that for so long the dominant voices in the medium didn't have much respect for the writer and were almost exclusively interested in the artists... To be done well both aspects must be considered. That's the nature of the beast.... This is no less true in other mediums... If a film is visually beautiful, but psychologically and emotionally empty... what's the point in wasting 2 hours watching it.... The same is true of a book or a comic... Pretty pictures don't make a story and better... but they don't make it any less valuable either...
I'm with Abulafia :) I prefer a book above a comic book. A comic book has pictures of people who are like models. I don't like perfect characters :) And in books you can create your own mental picture of all described. Also, it has been for me personal sometimes hard to understand a expression on a face of a character in a comic. Also, comics are divided in multiple small limited paged books and are easy to read through. The enjoyment is shorter. And it has to put in a lot of things within those limited pages to keep the story interesting for the readers. In a book they have plenty of pages and time to describe and go to possible details, plot set and not necessary need to have action in every chapter. All has it's own place and time in a book. And to me, comics have a bit of a soap feeling: it goes on and on for so many issues and years... And stories in books stop at some time (okey, there are exceptions..like a certain Wheel of Time serie :p).

However, sometimes comics can be very enjoyable. Sometimes the visual drawings are wonderful done, or the story has quite something more then expected. It can also be a handy step up for children to get into reading, as cajunmama wrote in this topic before :)

It's a matter of taste. I still like something like Donald Duck, or children books with small pictures now and then, but still like the fat books with only text :) Everyone has their own thing.
There is such a large selection of comics, and webcomics now available that I sincerely cannot say that I like a book over a comic or vice versa.

Look at great adventure/fantasy comics like Pibgorn

or Drama/Comedy like
Queen of Wands
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the much-acclaimed Neil Gaiman comic series, The Sandman. First of all, that series is actually the equivalent of a rated "R" movie, with violence, very strong language, nudity, etc, it's primarily for adults/teenagers.

Also, the series gives insight into human nature, and features some of the best characters known to comics. Hell, sometimes it gives more insight to human nature than many novels that I've read.

If you liked Neil Gaiman's American Gods, than I'd definitely suggest the Sandman. Best to start at the beginning, and go with the book Preludes and Nocturnes first. Then The Doll's House, skip Dream Country and go to Season of Mists where the series really picks up. If you want to keep following the main story, read A Game of You, then Brief Lives- possibly the best in the series- then The Kindly Ones and finally end it with The Wake. It'll leave you hungering for more, so then you can go back and read Dream Country, Fables and Reflections, and World's End in any particular order.

Also, after reading Season of Mists in the Sandman series, I'd suggest reading the spin-off series Lucifer, starting with the Devil in the Gateway book.

And the Hellblazer series is rather good too. The book Dangerous Habits is being made into the "Constantine" movie.
At the time of my last post, I hadn't discovered The Sandman. Now I have and have been steadily working my way through the collection. I really do enjoy it. It has lots of subtle nuances and very much for the older crowd. I won't let my 10 year old look over my shoulder when I read it :D . And loving The Sandman series takes absolutely nothing away from any of the novels I've read.
Comic books used to be aimed mostly at children, but in recent years there is increasing numbers of comic books aimed at adults. There is probably some comic nutter that knows this a lot better than me but i think that after "The watchmen" the comic book industry sort of understood that adults might be interested in comics as well. Under the name Vertigo, DC comics publish a number of comics aimed at mature readers. Most of these are well worth a look if you are interested in comics, especially Sandman. I can also highly recommend any comics by Alan Moore.

It is widely belief that comic books are an obstacle on the way to reading something more serious; that they are mostly aimed at children, and adults, who are wise enough to appreciate literature shouldn't waste time on them.

Nothing you read can be an obstacle to reading. In my opinion too many young readers are forced into litterature that is too difficult for them at a too early age. Let people read easy crap to develop a interest in reading before starting on the harder litterature. If the first book you read is Ulysses you will probably not be too interested in reading more. Once you have developed a interest in reading its much easier to tackle harder books.

Some comic books can be far more interesting to read than a lot of the litterature that is published today. I would rather read Sandman than Dan Brown.
Vinsecula said:
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the much-acclaimed Neil Gaiman comic series, The Sandman.
Oh, we did. :) Welcome aboard, Sandman fan! Quite a few of us here lived in the Dreaming, so you're in good company.

I agree with you that Brief Lives is the best of the bunch, but I enjoyed Seasons of Mist and The Wake tremendously as well.

direstraits said:
I agree with you that Brief Lives is the best of the bunch, but I enjoyed Seasons of Mist and The Wake tremendously as well.
Yes, Brief Lives is top notch. But someone STILL :mad: hasn't returned Season of Mists to the library. It has been over a month!! *stomps feet and throws a wee temper tantrum
From Hy Bender's The Sanman Companion:
Neil Gaiman states:
Once, while at a party in London, the editor of the literary reviews page of a major newspaper struck up a conversation with me, and we chatted pleasantly until he asked what I did for a living. "I write comics," I said; and I watched the editor's interest instantly drain away, as if he suddenly realized he was speaking to someone beneath his nose.
Just to be polite, he followed up by inquiring, "oh, yes? Which comics have you written?" So I mentioned a few titles, which he nodded at perfunctorily; and I concluded, "I also did this thing called Sandman." At that point he became excited and said, "hang on, I know who you are. You're Neil Gaiman!" I admitted that I was. "My God, man, you don't write comics," he said. "You write graphic novels!"
He meant it as a compliment, I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who'd been informed that she wasn't actually a hooker, that in fact she was a lady of the evening.
This editor had obviously heard positive things about Sandman; but he was so stuck on the idea that comics are juvenile he couldn't deal with something good being done as a comic book. He needed to put Sandman in a box to make it respectable.

For the longest time my mother never really approved of comic books (although she used to read Archie comics with me when I was little). Just last month, we watched "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and she was very entertained with the idea of collaborating all these literary characters. I explained, "You know who did this Mom? A comic book writer!!! This is based on Allan Moore's graphic novel!" I continued to tell her about how well read they are and that they're not all Archie comics. They're just as deep and just as brilliant as any author of any novel. I think she understands now. ;)

I don't really view comics and other novels as two different things. I love all. I love The Sandman as much as I love Nabokov's Lolita.
As a veteran reader of superhero comics I can attest to the fact that one can be both a comic and Novel reader. I no longer actively read monthly titles, but I will occasionally read a graphic novel or Trade paperback that collects multiple issues. Also my children and I watch the cartoons Justice League, Teen Titans, The Batman and Static Shock.

Comics are what got me interested in reading as a kid and I was able to acquire an interesting vocabulary as a result of reading them.
For me, a comic book is same as any other book.
Its not true that a comic book is of 'lesser' value. In fact, some comic books really give a different picture of life! My personal favourite is Calvin and Hobbes. Sometimes, some remark that Calvin passes, something that his dad says can make so much impact on the reader!
Yes, I am a bookworm and I love comic books :)
Comic books have been a great help in getting my son to enjoy reading and want to read. He has a learning disability, and the comics made it so much easier and more fun for him. Part of it had to do with the fact that he could 'see' who was talking, and with the words broken up into small groups, it made it possible for him to read AND comprehend at the same time, which is very difficult for him to do with just text.
I always choose comic books over ‘normal’ books. Not only do the illustrate the story better, but they can give out just as much character personality that novels/books do. I’d have to say that their only downside is that it doesn’t leave as much to the imagination. :(