The very picture of graphic novels

Part of our series introducing each genre, written by the organizer.

Comics FTW! The graphic novels category covers a wide range of stories–everything from wordless picture books appealing to the very young to intense, issue-based young adult novels–all of which tell their stories through serial artwork. All of these stories are welcome. We give an award for both the younger graphics and for the young adult graphics.

In the past, we've been fairly strict about limiting the category so that there are not big chunks of text between the comic panels–books that take this shape are considered to be hybrid illustrated novels rather than graphic novels, and go to the category they'd belong in if they didn't have the images.

But what if the images are an essential part of the story? What if the book won't do as well in the other category, simply because the text, by itself, doesn't have the same power as the book as a whole? This is something which our group has discussed, and fretted about, for awhile now.

So this year, we're going to experiment with adding some hybrid illustrated novels, with the goal of having every book placed in the category where it stands the best chance of winning. Hybrids we'll allow in graphics are books where the pictures are essential to the storytelling, and where most of the story is in the comics format, with occasional chunks of text.

One final thing–if the hybrid you're nominating is an early reader (the Toon books, or Frankie Pickle, from past years), go ahead and nominate it in that category. Early readers often combine images and text, due to the needs of the readers, so this is a category where hybrid graphics are a great fit.

Can't wait to read your choices!

–Liz Jones

Go to the Graphic Novel nominations page.