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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pen and Ink

From West Point cadets to Stephen King, everyone is discovering the power of comic books. King has agreed to create an original graphic novel based on his Dark Tower series. Future graduates of the U.S. Military Academy are required to read Persepolis, a 2003 graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi set during the Iranian revolution in 1979.

According to Time International, revenue from the sale of graphic novels in the U.S. almost tripled between 2001 and 2004. Borders has reported a 100 percent increase in graphic novel sales over the past three years. Teachers and librarians have even embraced the genre for reluctant readers. Special graphic novel sections for young adults have been created in public libraries -- including ours.

Long gone are the days when those of a certain age had to take a flashlight to bed to read forbidden adventures published by Marvel and D.C. Comics. A Contract With God by Will Eisner, published in 1978, marks the birth of the modern graphic novel. The form took another leap toward respectability when Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Maus, the biography of his parents during the Holocaust. (The book depicted Jews as mice and Nazis as cats.) In the past 15 years, the form has exploded. In addition to Persepolis and Maus, here’s a few more to sample. If you’ve got a favorite to recommend, please use the comments box below.

The Yellow Jar by Patrick Atagnan

Ghost World and Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes

The Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins

Mother, Come Home by Paul Hornschemeier

Palestine by Joe Sacco

In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman

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