A 'Prose Guy' Explores the Comics Boom

How graphic novels went from nothing to something
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2008 3:44 PM CDT
Dr. Phillips High School librarian Lori Kimble holds a copy of a Moby Dick adaptation, from the Bone graphic novel series, at the school's media center on November 24, 2004.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Bob Thompson is a self-professed “prose guy,” but still can’t ignore the biggest trend in publishing: graphic novels. Thompson sets out for the Washington Post to discover how literature that uses word balloons can be book world's sole growing sector. He discovers that many “little see-saws” tipped at once to start the revolution—most notably, in comic theoretician Scott McCloud’s words, “Comics. Got. Better.”

But cutting-edge, undeniably literary works like Maus and Jimmy Corrigan didn't propel comics alone. Comic publishers had to rework their distribution system to get wares into bookstores, and stores had to drum up a sales plan. Mainstream publishers then took note, offering their own graphic novels. In the end, Thompson admits he still prefers prose. McCloud says some guys will never get it: “And it’s okay. They’ll die.”