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V for Vendetta: Studying Graphical Novels as Literature - Article by Saul, Teen Blogger

V for Vendetta Book CoverAny high school English course has a reading list: a group of books that all students must read so that they can complete the class. These are usually classics that are considered to be some of the best books ever written. 1984, Brave New World, any Shakespeare play, and many others fall into the category of so-called “high culture reading.” These books are typically old and have themes surrounding society and the human condition.

It was surprising to me then, when I found, on my reading list, a graphic novel. It was the widely popular V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Now, I don’t need to write a blog post explaining to people that this is a good book to read, as that has been said before in numerous forms, but I did want to talk about what makes a book, and specifically this graphic novel, something that is good to study. I also wanted to talk about how often society looks down on certain mediums as lesser in some way or another.

I would highly recommend reading V for Vendetta if you haven’t already. If you are at all interested in either the graphic novel form or dystopian literature it is must read. The library has copies available of both the book and its movie adaptation.

For a quick refresher, or for those who haven’t read the novel, it is set in a dystopian England, in which a fascist government rules over the people in a typical totalitarian fashion. The book centers around two main characters, a girl named Evie, and a mysterious masked man names V. Together they attempt to unravel the system and encourage people to rebel against their oppressors.

So what makes this, or any novel, good to study? The main reason is how it reflects on our own society by exaggerating the evils in order to call attention to them. It allows for discussion about humanity and the world we live in. There are many graphic novels that do this, and one may find that even typical superhero comics have themes of complex morality. The bigger question is simply: why are graphic novels so often dismissed?

Comic Book Shop PhotoThey exist as a marginalised text and are often grouped into the category of “low culture.” The type of thing someone reads purely for entertainment, and not to gain any real emotional experience from. This could not be further from the truth, and V for Vendetta is the perfect example of this. In my English class we have spent days discussing the various subtleties that exist in graphic novels that are not in regular books: things such as colour, font, patterns, and symbols.

As a society, people have begun to move away from the stereotypes that exist towards certain forms of media. At one point, movies were a gimmick, and now we have film study classes dedicated to the art. With the graphic novel we have witnessed a change in perception from generation to generation. To the point were I, as a teenager currently in high school, have been given a graphic novel as a legitimate form of literature, worthy of in depth study.


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