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  • Editorial
  • Catherine Kurkjian (bio) and Sylvia Vardell (bio)

Dear Bookbird Readers

Dear Bookbird Readers,

Welcome to this special full-color issue of Bookbird featuring the topic of graphic novels around the world. We are so pleased to offer this issue, in particular, in full color since the art of graphic novels is highly visual, complex, and often multi-layered. We begin with a fascinating trio of articles by and about author, artist, and filmmaker Shaun Tan, an innovator in this field, followed by three insightful pieces about the history, nature, and power of graphic novels in three different countries: Iran, India, and Korea. The blurring lines between graphic novels and other literary forms are examined in the final four articles, with a focus on the work of Raymond Briggs and Dave McKean, and a look at the evolving picture book in Australia and the translation of "sound" in one book, Robot Dreams. Taken together, we hope this issue offers a snapshot of how this crossover genre can bridge barriers of literacy, culture, and genre.

The work of Shaun Tan

First, we feature the work of Shaun Tan, the recipient of the recent 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award as well as an Oscar for his film work. In "The accidental graphic novelist" he writes about his [End Page ii] "accidental" foray into creating graphic novels and addresses this continuum of "comics" and "graphic novels" in interesting ways noting, "This question of nomenclature… is part of a broader semantic discussion that trades in phrases such as visual literacy, multi-literacy, sequential art, pictorial narrative, and so on." He goes on to consider HOW one identifies this genre; by aesthetics, audience, format, etc. These are questions that pop up again and again throughout this issue of Bookbird.

Linnet Hunter then delves into Tan’s work in her article, "The artist as narrator: Shaun Tan’s wondrous worlds," by offering her analysis of his portrayal of a sense of belonging in many of his works noting that "his artwork renders imaginary worlds that are both specific and, at the same time, universal and surreal representations of wordless longings and fears. In her article, "Not all that's modern is post: Shaun Tan's grand narrative," Lien Devos digs further into Tan’s oeuvre by examining his fusion of modernist aesthetics in the use of symbolism and surrealism with his use of postmodernist devices such as irony and fragmentation.

Graphic novels around the world

We then switch gears to focus on how graphic novels are viewed in Iran, India, and Korea. First, Sahar Tarhandeh provides a brief history of comics in Iran in her article, "Striving to survive: Comic strips in Iran." She analyzes how factors such as political climate, publishing costs, and critical opinion shape perceptions and discusses representative titles and illustrators of comic strips in Iran. In "The graphic novel in India: East transforms west," Dipavali Debroy outlines the debut and history of comics and graphic novels in India citing many interesting examples including the most current game-like versions produced for iPads. She calls for graphic novels infused with Indian themes and innovative Indian art styles that are culturally authentic. Yeo-Joo Lim introduces us to Korea’s Educational Graphic Novels (EGN) in "Educational graphic novels: Korean children’s favorite now." This dual focus on being both educational and entertaining has led to a surge of interest in this format, called manhwa. We learn about its popularity, its characteristics, and its history as a type of graphic novel from a Korean perspective.

Blurring boundaries and genre lines

Blurring boundaries and genre lines In this last section of articles, we present an array of perspectives on the changing divisions between comics, graphic novels, and picture books. Janet Evans considers the seminal work of British author and illustrator Raymond Briggs in her article, "Raymond Briggs: Controversially blurring boundaries." Petros Panaou and Frixos Michaelides then focus on "Dave McKean’s art: Transcending limitations of the graphic novel genre" in analyzing his groundbreaking, often hybrid works. Next John Foster considers "Picture books as graphic novels and vice versa: The Australian experience" in examining five key Australian books that merge aspects of each genre and how and...


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pp. ii-iv
Launched on MUSE
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