How to Read Graphic Novel

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					     How to Read a
     Graphic Novel
Aim How will students navigate the words and
picture of Maus to develop the visual literacy
needed to read a graphic novel?
   Graphic Novel or Comic Book?
When most people hear the phrase graphic novel, they
  think of comic books.
Superheroes like Wonder Woman, Wolverine and the
  Green Lantern come to mind.
    Graphic Novel or Comic Book?
Graphic novels are different from comic books in
  a few important ways:
Comic books are usually a series. That means they are intended to
  come up with new stories every month.
Graphic novels are one story (told in perhaps two or more
  volumes) that reach the end and stop.
Comic books are generally fantasy and science fiction.
Graphic novels are more realistic – usually historical,
  autobiographical or a memoir.
    Graphic Novel or Comic Book
• Graphic novels and comics books are the
  same in the way that they are read.

• Let’s look at Maus and identify the following:
     • The “flow” of the story
     • Parts of a graphic novel
     • Things we should look for in the words and pictures
Graphic novels rely on pictures and words to
tell the story. These pictures and words are in
   Panels are the boxes in which the
      pictures and words appear.
   The panels are read in sequence like the
      way you read the words of a page in a
      regular book.
   Now you will look at two pages of MAUS.
      – Don’t worry about reading the words,
      just follow the directions so you know
      how to move your eyes across the page.
Start here and follow the red
 Graphic Novel: The Parts of the Story
• Graphic novels are like regular stories – they
  have a plot, characters and all the other parts
  of a regular story.
• A caption is information from the author that
  gives us important information about where
  the setting is or what a character is
  experiencing. Sometimes a caption can
  appear inside–or outside--the panel.
        This is the first page of MAUS
             Caption #1

             Caption #2

                          Caption #3

            Caption #4

What captions tell us about
the setting?

What captions tell us about
the experiences of a
 Graphic Novel: The Parts of the Story
• Another important part of a graphic novel is
  – Dialogue is what characters say to each other.
    Dialogue is conveyed through word balloons.
    Each word balloon has a “tail” to let you know
    what character is talking.
     This is the first page of MAUS (again)
                                        Is it clear which
                                        character is saying
                  Word Balloon #1       the dialogue in
                                        each word

                                         Word Balloon #3
          Word Balloon #2

                                          Word Balloon #4

Word Balloon #5
                                    Word Balloon #6
MAUS: What to look for in words and
• In the captions and word balloons, some
  words are emphasized by being bigger or
• This lets the reader know that there is a lot of
  emotion behind these words.
• Look at page one again and identify the
  emphasized words.
     This is the first page of MAUS (again)
                                        What words are
                  Word Balloon #1       What emotions
                                        are the

                                         Word Balloon #3
          Word Balloon #2

                                         Word Balloon #4

Word Balloon #5
                                    Word Balloon #6
   MAUS: What to look for in words and
• In the pictures, the artist can use devices like
  shadow and style to help create a mood.
• Dark shadows usually create a mood of fear or
Elements of Film in Graphic Novels
           • Art Spiegelman and other graphic
             novelists also use film techniques.
           • Which angle has Spiegelman used in
             this panel? Why is it important?
           • Just as in film, the reader of a graphic
             novel should take note of a panel’s
             entirety. Why has Spiegelman
             imposed an image in the upper left-
             hand corner?
           • If this were a shot from a film, which
             film styles would it incorporate?
MAUS: What to look for in words and
 How this make his pain more real to the reader?
• The style of the art can also
  help connect the creator to
  the reader.
• In this story, we find out
  very early the author’s
  mother killed herself.
• Later on, he tries to tell that
  story by dramatically
  changing the style – the
  way he creates the art.
• He even uses an actual
  picture of his mother with
  him when he was a small
Let’s start reading the novel…

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