The Graphic Novels of Our Minds

December 12, 2020


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The world is inking a new graphic novel, and it's far from over. It has so far changed minds and broken words. Its influence is far-reaching. Through the years, graphic novels have veered readers toward far-off lands, even influenced "comicphiles", so to speak, in unfathomable ways. Here are a few that have left a mark in comic book history.

In Touch with Nature

In Tong-hwa Kim's masterpiece, The Color Of Earth (Trilogy) (2009), a historical trilogy written alongside The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven, is not your ordinary coming-of-age tale. The series has etched a significant impact on young adult literature. Looking into the Bildungsroman and radical change in the character, the Color Trilogy shows the various influences in Kim's writing style and perspectives. Ehwa's sexual awakening is depicted in erotic symbols and sexualized images of the natural world. Scholars have pointed out that the piece challenges boundaries of physical education, contemplating on concepts considered taboo in the early twentieth-century rural Korea.  

Asking the X and Y of Life

Brian K. Vaughan's critically-acclaimed sci-fi series, Y: The Last Man (2003), about a plague that instantly kills all men of any species except the protagonist, Yorick Brown, keeps readers' thinking caps on at all times. The dystopian piece fiddles with the idea of a woman-led world, with the protagonist either seen as the catalyst for survival or the last remaining proof of patriarchy. Yorick's journey is an act of resistance which poses questions in a world weighed down with preconceived notions of masculinity and femininity, as well as, male dominance. The apocalyptic world-building nudges readers into a dialogue on gender and many more.      

Pondering a Leap of Faith

Will Eisner's A Contract With God: And Other Tenement Stories (1978) is widely-regarded as "the first modern graphic novel". Eisner's iconic work is a collection of stories thematically reminiscent of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, in part pastoral romance and at times complex, with the depiction of the Great Depression in the eyes of a Jew. The struggle to survive amidst economic difficulties, tragedy and vice is at the centerfold of Eisner's storytelling.

Which graphic novel has influenced you? Watch out this space for more features on graphic novels or check out this collection of 50 essential graphic novels for your New Year's reading checklist.

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