Graphic Novels are Criminally Underrated

And you can Learn About Them at NDSU

When I was a child, I did not have much of an opportunity to read comics as I lived in a suburban area. However, that did not prevent me from being a fan of them. As I am from Bangladesh, a South-Eastern Asian country, our comics were a little bit different from the comics that you probably grew up reading. My childhood love for it forced me to take a course with Dr. Verena Theile, an amazing mother and associate professor in the English department at NDSU. I bring up her role as a mother because her daughter is an avid reader of graphic novels. She provides her daughter with graphic novels so that she can learn about the lives of people who she was not meet in person. Graphic novels often come with characters of all colors and forms. If you ask me, Fahmida, why would I care about it? I am going to give you plenty of reasons why you should.

You read books for academic, entertainment, or hobby purposes. Except for movies, and some children’s books, you typically do not get a visual to help you see things in front of you. But in graphic novellas, we get images with words. Sometimes, there are images that speak volumes without any written word. Flipping through those pages helps you understand emotions, forces you to stare at the images and evokes feelings to make you realize what the characters might have gone through. Looking at images makes your senses alert and you put your efforts to grasp the hidden meaning. You become a conscious reader.

After taking the course Engl 635, Young Adult Literature in a Multicultural World, I realized that this genre offers you the most possibilities of identifying yourself with the characters. No matter what your religion, gender, color, or nationality is, you will get plenty of graphic novellas that talk about you. 

For example, I am a Muslim Bangladeshi. I saw myself in different Muslim characters portrayed in graphic novellas. So, if you think that you are alone fighting with this world to secure a place for yourself, you can find yourself in graphic novellas. I read many graphic novellas in the last fall semester where I saw people going through the same problems as me. Muslims in the United States of America are trying to fit in, adapt to the American way of life, and have a secure place, all while holding their Muslim identities intact. I do not know which ethnicity you are, but there are novellas about the people representing you. Another benefit is that, since graphic novellas come with images, characters even look like you. 

Graphic novellas are handy too. You can go to Read All Comics Online (this is the website I relied on to read the novellas for the course I took) and start reading the novella you want. It is easy-peasy! If you have a smartphone with an internet connection, that’s all you need. Next time, when you are alone, instead of binge-watching something on Netflix, give graphic novellas a shot.

Need more to convince you that you should give them a shot? Okay, I have got another fact to share with you. Graphic novellas are not time-consuming. You barely need two to three hours to complete the whole novella in one go. Honestly speaking, your willingness and your time are all you need to read this genre. Though some graphic novellas come with sequels, they are tempting enough to push you to read the other parts of the stories. Disclaimer; do not blame me if you get addicted.

Now that you know why you should read graphic novellas, what are you waiting for? My personal favorite is When Stars are Scattered, a novel based on a true story by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson, where two brothers fled the war in Somalia and started living in a refugee camp in Kenya, being separated from their mother. They spent years after years in that refugee camp with the hope to get reunited with their mother and resettled in North America with the help of the United Nations. If you read this novella, it will help you empathize with refugees who come to the States to save lives, eat food, get education, and live like human beings.

The next graphic novella that I am going to read is Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs by Mark Russell. I have read that it is satire. So, I am going to read between the lines. If you are willing enough to spend some time reading a satire, give it a chance too! In short, read graphic novels, learn about people around the world, and spread love.

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