October 11, 2006

Graphic Novels Getting Their Due

I heard a news brief on NPR this morning about today's announcement of the National Book Award finalists (winners to be announced Nov. 15). Among the nominees for Young People's Literature, which seems to be code for Middle Grade/YA, are Feed author M.T. Anderson's mouthful of a book The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party; a new book I'm looking forward to reading by Patricia McCormick, author of Cut; and a graphic novel! Yay! by Gene Luen Yang called American Born Chinese.

It's amazing to see graphic novels getting recognized by venerable literary organizations. There are so many great graphic novelists and artist/writers telling their stories through words and images together, in a dizzying array of styles, and it's a genre--or rather, medium--that deserves attention in the U.S. (In Japan, comics don't seem to have the same "kids and geeks only" reputation they have here--we saw a lot of well-dressed businessmen reading graphic novels on the train.) Incidentally, for those interested in creating graphic novels, I found an interesting link via Gene Yang's website about the Xeric Foundation, which awards graphic novel self-publishing grants. That's a great idea, despite my suspicion of self-publishing--if you think it's hard to get a novel published, it seems that it's a hundred times more difficult to make it big with a graphic novel. Then again, maybe it won't be so difficult anymore now that authors like Gene Yang, Marjane Satrapi, and Art Spiegelman have brought some great graphic literature into the mainstream.

The Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Winners have also been announced--another prize for Kate DiCamillo's latest, which I'm ashamed to say I haven't had a chance to read yet. An interesting website for children's publishing information (which I may have already posted and, if so, I apologize) is JacketFlap.com, which offers "the world's largest and most comprehensive database of statistics and information on children's book publishers. The site helps writers most optimally find the publishers that are publishing new authors and that publish titles in the writer's category of work."

If you have a ton of money and some time coming up this month, the Highlights Foundation is offering a new Writing Novels for Young Adults workshop with Rich Wallace. It's a small workshop, so sign up soon if you want to go. I personally do not have $895 plus plane flight to Pennsylvania, so... Jack Prelutsky has been named the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation, and high-school staple George Orwell has been lauded in a recent NPR story.


TadMack said...

WHOA that Highlights thing is pricey! I assume they have 1:1 author/editor attention? Or something... I've heard good things about McCormick's Sold, and I've been looking forward to the Octavian Nothing thing, too. M.T. Anderson is SO prolific and still so DEEP. I cannot imagine how he does it!! I read a snippet of interview in which he says that this one and Feed are actually on the same basic topic. So HMM!

And yes! I was also pretty pleased at the graphic novel news. There's another one called The Long Chalkboard, it's for adults, so the graphic thing is catching on!

TadMack said...

By the by, the Octavian Nothing interview with Anderson.