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Opinion: Reading is more than words

By Aroha Witinitara

I’ve always been a fan of comics and graphic novels. That’s not to say that standard novels aren’t great too. During my time of graphic novel reading I have encountered multiple people who have suggested that I would be better off reading ‘real books.’ Comic books and graphic novels have had a rough history, having been perceived as entertainment for younger children and immature adults and still some of that bad reputation is sticking around.

Graphic novels and comics aren’t just for kids, there’s a piece of work for people at every end of the age spectrum. There are many stories that cater to an older audience and although figures like Spiderman and Superman are the faces of the genre, if you take the time to dig deeper there are stories about a variety of topics. There are many graphic novels and comics that cover mature topics like politics and current events. A well-known graphic novel on the darker side is Maus by Art Spiegelman which is also an example of how graphic novels can be used to present ideas in new ways, untouchable by standard novels.

Although there is a lot of material well suited to a younger audience, there are a lot of comics and graphic novels that fall into the action genre, and appeal to even those who hate reading with a fiery passion.  Another likeable feature of graphic novels and comics are their lack of words. This makes them a lighter read; reading doesn’t always need to feel like a chore. I’ll admit that these types of stories do little to improve readers’ vocabulary as all of the words are dialogue and are simple. Hidden messages can be thrown into the artwork. In stories that are packed with action it can sometimes be easy to get lost between the panels.

Novels are certainly a greater challenge to read than comics and graphic novels and as a result they do provide benefits that comics and graphic novels don’t. But reading novels all of the time can be tiring and get boring. Reading shouldn’t always feel like a chore. Comics and graphic novels are considerably lighter than novels but keep in mind that opting for some leisure reading doesn’t make a person any less intelligent. It’s ideal to have a balance of reading material, graphic novels included.

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