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Graphic novels are no laughing matter


It's amazing how quickly people turn up their noses at graphic artists. I say I'm going to an exhibit of graphic artists and immediately I get responses like, "a COMIC book show? What would be interesting about that?" or, "They're not artists." I kid you not.
So it's sort of sad when I walk around the exhibit and see extraordinary art - unique and highly skilled pieces - that will probably never be appreciated by the mainstream. It will probably be only the choir already preached to that will take the time to go the Toronto Reference Library and check out this strong collection of accomplished graphic artists on display.

Although those people will like the show, I want the unconverted to go. I want them to see first hand how Chester Brown has created his own way to communicate history and tell an effective and moving story of Louis Riel. I want them to be intrigued enough by Ho Che Anderson 's powerful art to buy the first copy of King and devour the story of Martin Luther King.

Graphic novels are an unbelievable way to communicate a message - as both the words and the visual impact the viewer. It's like being the writer, director, actor and cinematographer for a movie. Think of the potential to impact viewers. It's enviable.

The results are extremely powerful creations. Joe Sacco, for example, uses the medium to communicate his message from his personal experiences like he did in his book, Palestine. The gallery write up says he is, "an independent artist on a mission to give voices to those on the streets of war." And what a way to do it. He can show us how he feels, tell us and move us at the same time.

So while graphic novels are on the rise, even marking their place with their own section in Chapters, why don't they have the respect of the main stream? Are people intimidated by the plethora of talent? Do people hate the idea of one lone person sitting for hours/ever creating these works? Do they think of how most graphic artists today were either influenced by Peanuts or Mad Magazine, and therefore are forever rendered silly?

Despite what the reasons may be, send them to the show at the Ref. Help expose the talent of these artists to people who just don't know how effective visual art and writing can be. They might be called comics, but they are not a joke.

Hurry! The show, Drawn Out Stories ends in two days.


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