Tag Archives: graphic novels

What’s In A Comic?


What’s in a comic book or a graphic novel? What is it about the illustrations and the stories inside their covers (or their covers!) that keep bringing readers back for more? Well, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it? But I am nothing if not overly ambitious and I just so happen to be a giant nerd (and self-proclaimed graphic novels aficionado), so to break in my first shiny new blog post I thought we could get into it a little. Plus, it’s a big month for the comics industry, at least in North America. It was Free Comic Book Day on May 4th and, on the Canadian side of things, several comics arts festivals will be running in major cities across the country including Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, which I’ve visited a few times myself. It’s always such a fun surprise to see what indie artists have been cooking up and you never know who you might run into (Ryan North in 2010 was a big highlight for me).   

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe we should start at the beginning. After all, what’s in a comic, a graphic novel? What is a comic, really? After a Google deep dive (and a scouring of several encyclopedia listings, all hail Brittanica), here’s what I’ve got for you.

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Required Reading: School Curriculum & The Classics

School is back in session, and with that comes projects and, thus, increased demand for the classics. You know them. To Kill a Mockingbird1984The Great GatsbyLord of the FliesBrave New WorldAnimal FarmShakespeare with HamletMacbeth, and R&J being ubiquitous. Etc. These have been staples in schools for decades*1. If you’re a data-driven person, this Ontario Book Publisher’s Association report will confirm many of the above titles.

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The BSC is back!

Baby-Sitters Club logo

© Scholastic Inc.

The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin have been adored by generations of kids since the publication of the first book in the series, Kristy’s Big Day, over 30 years ago in 1986. Just writing that makes me feel very old. As a kid I loved going to the local library every week to stock up on new books, especially during the summers when, at least in my small town, there wasn’t much else to do but read (plus reading outside in the summer is the best).

Original book cover of Kristy's Great Idea

© Scholastic Inc.

Over 200 books were published in the series from 1986 to 2000, some written entirely by Martin and others with assistance from ghostwriters, though Martin still provided the outlines and edited the books. Over 176 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide. Much of the inspiration for the stories and characters came from the author’s own life, including years of babysitting in her youth and working as a teacher as an adult.

In the 1990s there was a Baby-Sitters Club TV show and a movie. The books were so popular, there even was a BSC board game (and yes, my sister and I used to play it, although I didn’t like it as much as the Sweet Valley High board game). You can find the game on Amazon and eBay.

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