I received this morning, in my latest mail-order comics parcel, a book entitled Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life (rather confusingly published with a different subtitle in the US, Graphic Novels: Everything You Need to Know) by famed comics guru Paul Gravett (Aurum Press).
It’s the follow-up to his enormously successful Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics and is the same lush format, oversized, 192 full colour pages and beautifully designed by Peter Stanbury.
It’s essentially a guide to the very best in literate graphic novels – the usual suspects like Ware, Burns, Crumb, Moore, Clowes, Eisner et al rub shoulders with lesser-known creators like Hornschemeier, Mattotti, Dorgathen, Hine and, er, Millidge.
It’s an impressive selection, one that matches my own remarkably closely, but what makes the volume unlike any other is the prolific number of full-page interior reproductions, which allows the reader to sample the works for themselves (rather than relying on cover repros and/or out-of context single panel enlargements). It’s rather like a 21st century successor to The Staros Report, a one-stop shop window for the best of what the world of the graphic novel has to offer.
It’s an essential, fabulous volume, one which any self-respecting comic connoisseur would be proud to own, and I say that without even having read it yet. The fact that Paul has selected Strangehaven as one of the featured books is probably my biggest accolade to date and I’m proud to have been included alongside so many of my peers, inspirations and heroes. It would be understandable for you to think that the selection of my book has clouded my judgment a little, and you may be right, but I don’t think so. Locate a copy, flip though it and you’ll be convinced, I’m sure.
Paul Gravett also has a brand spanking new website up and running, at the easily memorable URL of www.paulgravett.com