Graphic Novels Hit The Mainstream

A sharp new generation of graphic novelists spearhead a push into the mainstream.

The Independent    |    Todd Morman    |    January 29, 2003

Happy moments don't come around often in the world of comic books. Years of bias, terrible distribution and a general lack of interest from serious booksellers have combined to prevent smart works of comics literature (or graphic novels) from getting the shelf space they deserve in mainstream bookstores. And those rare moments of critical attention that were given to comics, turned out to be momentary blips on the cultural radar with no lasting effect. Neither Art Spiegelman's 1992 Pulitzer Prize for the Holocaust narrative Maus, nor the stir caused in international journalism circles in 2000 by Joe Sacco's gripping comic strip account of the war in Bosnia, Safe Area Gorazde, resulted in significant change in the way publishers and bookstore owners thought about the medium.

January 29, 2003

All that is about to change. A combination of art, luck and activism is combining to fundamentally alter the way works of graphic novels are sold in the United States. Companies like the Montreal-based Drawn & Quarterly and Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books--who are no longer satisfied to see this sharp new work relegated to the status of humor or genre fiction--are producing a growing number of graphic works that compare favorably with the very best contemporary fiction, history and journalism being published today.

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