What has happened to influence this change? First, the quality of comic books, particularly graphic novels, is now formally acknowledged. Graphic novels, the sturdy, lengthy comic books that contain one story or a set of related stories, are now being sporadically reviewed in selection journals as well as being the focus of a large number of recent articles. But the most compelling reason is wider awareness of our highly visual culture and its impact on our youth. Far from receiving stories from television and film passively, readers of comic books are actively constructing meaning from the text and illustrations and are sophisticated decoders of this new "language,” which is an iconographic narrative. Like well-crafted picture books, comic books are both verbal and visual, a hybrid in which words and illustrations work together to convey meaning. The differences between picture books and graphic novels are not as wide as some think: the work of illustrator Raymond Briggs (author of Father Christmas and The Snowman), for example, is highly regarded in both the worlds of children’s literature and comic books.
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