I asked Twitter this question today and got some great responses, but I thought I should chime in with my own story for anyone else who may be looking to answer this question in the future.
I was never much of a book person. Reading a page full of words without any pictures didn’t resonate with me for some reason. I think I’m what people call a visual learner…it helps for me to see something with the text in order to stimulate my imagination and understanding. Perhaps that’s why I turned to video games at such an early age. But in 1986, video games did not have a good public reputation.
A graphic novel by the name of the A Death In The Family came my way. It told the story of Jason Todd, who was the second person to fill the shoes of the character Robin in the vast Batman mythology. The basic jist of the tale is this: The Joker kills Robin in cold blood. It’s an emotional book. Robin has always been one of my favorite characters in literature, and to see him murdered by the Joker was an emotional thing for a 10 year old like me. Before A Death In The Family, I had never had an emotional response to any kind of literature. But this did it for me. I was visibly upset after reading this book. I cried because one of my favorite characters was now dead. That’s the moment that I look back to now and say “that’s when I understood how powerful literature can be.”
I know I wouldn’t have had this connection to literature if it wasn’t for the graphic novel format. The combination of text with images really helped me understand how powerful writing can be. For some people, a well written novel will do it for them. Others need only some kind of visual stimulus. For me, it’s the combination of the two.
Are graphic novels the reason I’m a librarian? Not exactly, but they did contribute to my belief that the printed word holds so much truth and power. I went on to read more graphic novels, got interested in other literature (Walden by Henry David Thorough has shaped how I view life as an adult), and went onto completing college and getting my master’s degree in Library Science. Graphic Novels sure helped me get here.
In conclusion, I ask that people try to see the graphic novel medium as something that can unlock the potential of a person. It was the right key for me, and I know there’s a whole host of people out there just waiting to be unlocked by this rich and powerful medium (I see them every day in the library).