Sherri Winans
Whatcom Community College
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Andréa Akers
English 225
Explorations Project
Spring 2012

Children's Texts Rewritten as Graphic Novels

Explorations Report

Part 1:

Part 2:

Explorations Reflection

At the start of the explorations project I questioned my topic, a lot. It just seemed so obscure; to research why an author would choose to have their book made into a graphic novel. From the start the idea came out of nowhere as I sat and talked with Sherri in her office for the first time. The situation was funny because I had accompanied my friend to Sherri’s office for her meeting and since we were both in the class Sherri invited me to join so we ended up getting two meetings done at the same time. From there on there was excessive talking and brainstorming; it was as if a tornado of creativity swept us up. In those fifteen to twenty minutes I came up with more ideas than I knew what to do with and we all know that making a decision can be the hardest part. In the end I chose to stick with all the questions I had about why so many books were being turned into graphic novels. For this I have my best friend to thank because not only did I wonder why but so did she and so every time I would ask what topic I should choose she would insist that I do the graphic novel one.

The reasons I have for choosing a project surrounding the world of graphic novels are far from few. Honestly, I’ve been asking myself the same question that got me started onto this idea for a couple years now; “Why would that author want their book in graphic novel form? It doesn’t even look good!” Every since I walked into Barnes and Noble and saw a cover for a graphic novel staring back at me reading ‘Twilight’ in shiny silver letters I’ve been confused. First though you have to understand that leading up to that day in 2009 when I saw that novel I had been obsessed with manga’s. A manga is essentially a Japanese graphic novel except the Japanese versions are stylistically and artistically very different than ones made by American’s. So, when I saw the Twilight graphic novel I was, at first extremely excited that is, until I picked it up and thumbed through the pages. Visually the book was nothing like the manga’s I read, well, ok maybe not nothing like them but it didn’t have the one element that I usually sought. The style of Japanese art just wasn’t there and me being an artists made that one of the key elements for me when reading manga’s. I think something along the lines of, “this looks like a bad knock off” or even “what were they thinking?!” flew through my head as I picked up Twilight. Just so you know these thoughts can not be blamed on a dislike for the Twilight series because at that time I was in fact in love with the series and I am in no way ashamed of admitting that. Anyway, ever since then I’ve been hesitant to pick up graphic novels especially when they are made from books that I’ve read and loved. Another reason why I tend to hate these graphic novels and why I was confused is because, like a movie, the graphic novels don’t always follow the book but, my research brought up some interesting information.

The author Scott Westerfeld seemed to prove me wrong on more than one occasion while I researching. The reason I looked into him was because he was one of the few authors who actually stated in an interview why the made their book(s) into a graphic novel. First he proved me wrong when it came to graphic novels not following the storyline of the original book. The reason being he decided to take a whole new direction and made the graphic novel take the point of view from a secondary character instead of the main character. Granted, this is not what every author does and I have yet to hear of any one else doing this. It did make me think though because he said, in an interview with, “We ally ourselves with a novel’s narrator too much sometimes, which is in a way just an extension of our own egocentrism.” (Dee) Basically this was his point in changing the main character, it wasn’t to change the story it was to make his audience take a new perspective on the story. I wish I would have been able to get a hold of a complete copy of his manga adaptation but unfortunately I wasn’t able to. I mentioned in my video presentation that I had yet to pick up a graphic novel adaptation and actually read it for fear of being incredibly let down by how terrible it is. But, after reading about Shay’s Story, the adaptation of Uglies, I’m extremely curious and would love to take a closer look.  

After presenting my exploration’s project it was time to wait for comments and was I excited for those, I couldn’t wait to see what people would take from it.

First I would just like to say how surprised I was at how few people had heard of graphic novel’s. I guess I just grew up with comic books being a part of my childhood mainly because of my brother, and so never thought for a second that some people wouldn’t know what one was. My favorite comments to read where when people got excited about the subject matter and genuinely wanted to learn more. I’m really glad that I could open a new door for people and help them start their exploration into a new world. I did however have a couple comments that really got my interest.   Anjolie York talked about the format of a graphic novel and how it draws in a new audience saying, “…it’s also like the differences between a book and a movie yeah? There’s another way to tell a story and because of the difference of presentation, the story can change.” I basically just liked the way she compared it with a movie because, like she said, as soon as you change the format of a story it’s bound to change and I guess I hadn’t thought of it the way she presented it. The other comment I found interesting was Michael Obrien’s and it connects a little with Anjolie’s comment. Michael said, “…these graphic novels, via illustrations, almost merge two different groups – the bookworms and the comic book readers – and still retain the meat of the story.” So going back to what Anjolie said, even though the format changed and the story along with it it still, as Michael said retains the main idea of the story. Usually when I see that a movie that’s different from the book it was based off I get frustrated because the directors couldn’t get the idea across but instead I could just be happy they managed to get the main point across. Now don’t get me wrong I’ll still be upset that it wasn’t up to my standard but it is a good way to look at it. Other than that I liked how Michael gave an example of graphic novels bringing the bookworms and comic book readers together. Personally I’ve seen this happen, it happened to me. My brother read comic books and read normal chapter books and when I was introduced to graphic novels it was like the two worlds collided. I had always wanted to read the comic books but the ones my brother read where never the genre I was interested in.  

When I look back at this project now I’m pleased with the results. I don’t think I could have picked a better topic for exploration as I found out just what I needed to. Though I think I only began to scratch the surface and would like to keep my eye out for more interviews which include questions specified towards the reasons these authors have for adapting their works into something much more visual. Along with that I found that it seems to be a trend for authors but I wonder if it will continue or fade out and not really catch on. I think when these graphic novels are executed well they could prove to help a lot of kids and create a bridge for them that never before existed and hopefully unite them with the rest of their friends and classmates.  

Works Cited

Cornog, Martha. "Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers: 33 Titles." Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers: 33 Titles. Library Journal. Web. 12 May 2012.

Staggs, Matt. "An Interview with Scott Westerfield: 'Uglies: Shay's Story.'" An Interview with Scott Westerfield. Random House. Web. 12 May 2012.

Dee. "Uglies--Interview with Scott Westerfeld & Devin Grayson." August 2011. Girls Read Comics Too. Web. 12 May 2012.


Copyright 2012
éa Akers


Funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education, Title III Grant PO31A980143
Sherri Winans, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA