‘On the Graphic Novel’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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I’m so glad that this book is finally translated since everyone who loves comics should have a peek at it.

Santiago García is a Spanish comic book writer. His latest graphic novel, Las Meninas, drawn by Paco Roca, follows the life of Diego Velázquez and gives us a great understanding of the painter and the painting itself. It won the prize for best Spanish work in Barcelona in 2015. He knows his stuff, this guy.
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What gives me great pleasure today is the fact that his nonfictional book, On the Graphic Novel, is now available in English.
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This is the study we should all be reading to understand graphic novels as they are today. It was written as his doctoral thesis for his Art History degree at the Complutensian University of Madrid, and it displays all the history of the comic form up to the graphic novel–ALL OF IT.

From early nineteenth-century European sequential art, through the development of newspaper strips in the United States, to the new twentieth-century comic book and its challenges, his job is to take us through a journey that not only encompasses American comic history but also European comic, Japanese manga, and graphic novels all over the world.

His is a great work and a terrific read along the lines of Scott Mc Cloud’s Understanding Comics. It can be heavy reading as well (it is a doctoral thesis, after all), but his aim is to take us on a journey outside the typical. With examples from around the world, García illustrates how the graphic novel, with its increasingly global and sophisticated profile, represents a new model for graphic narrative production, one that empowers authors and challenges prejudices against comics and what they can achieve.

In a Spanish interview by Borja Crespo, García sums it up pretty well:

“Above all, I’d like to state that comics have a very rich and interesting history, full of variants and unexplored territory. I think that this book is like a stroll through a very diverse landscape, where, whilst never striding out of our path–the adult comic book road–we get to see different horizons and new places we would love to explore. I hope that this is clear: this is an invitation to go forward, to leave the main path, to forsake all roads and get lost forever in this new, uncharted comic land.”

Santiago García now lives in Baltimore, Maryland, working as a writer, critic, and translator of American comics into Spanish. The translator, Bruce Campbell, lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is a Professor of Hispanic studies at St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict. He is the author of ¡Viva la Historieta! Mexican Comics, NAFTA, and The Politics of Globalization (University Press of Mississippi).

On the Graphic Novel
By Santiago García, Translated by Bruce Campbell
University Press of Mississippi
375 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 130 B&W illustrations, bibliography, index

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review purposes, but my Spanish version is so dog-eared and marked I might need a new one pretty soon.

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