Dear Comics

It’s not you, it’s me.

I want to fall in love with you, I really do. All of my friends say that you’re really great. And you are great, really. I’m just not feeling it.

I just can’t get into the way that you tell stories.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been attracted to text. I like well built paragraphs, with broad metaphors and strong descriptions that can carry a story safely across the great divide between author and reader. A clever simile, a well-crafted pun, will always make me smile. I have kind of a Thing for a confident narrative that introduces me to fascinating characters and takes me to exotic places. The right novel comes along, and I’m lost.

I have experimented with comics in the past. Some of my favorite authors, particularly Neil Gaiman, are bi-genre, and in their company I’ve dipped my toe in the graphic waters. But I can’t pretend any more.

When I open a graphic novel, I’m faced with page after page of lavish illustration, but all I can really see is the text. Unfortunately the text isn’t quite enough to carry the story. It’s mostly just dialog, with perhaps a dash of exposition. The lion’s share of description, mood, and theme are carried by the artwork, and I just don’t see it. Instead of carefully examining each page, each panel, I’ll find myself madly flipping pages, looking only at the speech bubbles, and by the end of the book I’ll be groaning in unfulfilled expectations, crying out, “That’s it? That’s all you can give me?” Excited by the prospect of a great story, only to have it come to a premature and unsatisfying end.

Sometimes, on a second go around, I can force myself to go slow, carefully examine the artwork. I know you’ve worked hard on your appearance, comics, and I’d like to give you mad props for it, but I’m just not that kind of a girl.

A novel, on the other hand, is long, and thick, and carries the promise of great satisfaction. A novelist knows how to create the mood, set the pace, and tickle my fancy just right.

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