One Writer’s Journey

November 18, 2016

Graphic Novels: Telling Nonfiction stories

comic-book-1393153_1280Oh, the vagueries of the internet.  Monday or Tuesday a story popped up in my blog feed.  It was extolling graphic novels that tell stories of science, nonfiction stories of science.  Awesome!   Then I took a closer look and realized that the original post was from 2013.  Okie-dokie, not sure why it decided I needed to know about a three year old post right now, but there you have it.

Still, my favorite graphic novel is science so I decided to look into this.  My all time favorite, until something surpasses it, is Clan Apis by Jay Hosler.  Yes, the bee talks but this is a graphic novel about bees.  Somehow Hosler makes it work.  He is a Ph.D. who studies bees which means that he knows his stuff.  He delivers tons of bee facts — life in the hive, how they defend the hive, bee predators, etc — along with a healthy dose of humor. As with many graphic novels, just because it is illustrated doesn’t mean it is a book for the picture book audience. The publisher recommends the book for 9 – 12 years old, and I wouldn’t go much younger. Hosler discusses the life cycle of the hive.  The whole life cycle.  Hint:  Bees do not live a long time eve if they are the main character.

Fortunately, I’ve also found a number of newer science graphic novels.  I’m really interested in how authors tell nonfiction stories in this format.  I found Science Comics by First Second books.  This seems to be a new line with books published in 2015 and 2016.  I’ve requested a whole selection from my library, Coral Reefs by Maris Wicks, Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers and Human Body Theater both by M.K. Wicks, and Volcanoes by Jon Chad.

Dominic Walliman also has a single author series, Professor Astro Cat, with Flying Eye Books.  I’ve requested both Atomic Adventure and Frontiers of Space.  

The format is consistently appealing to young readers, especially those who “don’t like to read.”  I know there are also history topics in graphic novel format, including March by John Lewis.  I have book 1 of that series on my desk.  I’ve never tried writing a graphic novel before but this is an interesting format to explore nonficiton topics.  Once I do a little research I may pitch an idea to some lucky publisher.



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