Graphic novels come of age

“Graphic novels come of age” / Rachel Leibrock / The Sacramento Bee / April 10, 2003

If the cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words is true, then in the book world, a graphic novel must be priceless.

Although graphic novels take many forms -- from stand-alone stories to hardbound collections of previously issued comics -- there's been a marked increase recently in prominent titles that would fit just as well in the high-brow literary world as they would at a comic book convention.

Bound like traditional hardback or quality paperback books, these sophisticated tomes feature handsome, often-edgy artwork and smart writing.

From Jason Little's bright and stylish "Shutterbug Follies" to Jason Lutes' spare, moving "Jar of Fools," the genre and its star players and products are finally getting their mainstream due in literary circles and among in-the-know young readers.

Industry watchers say it's the latter group that's influencing the former.

"We're moving into an age where there's a growing contingent of people in their 20s and 30s who have the time and money and the interest in reading something (new)," explains Eric Wetzel, a senior editor at Book magazine. They are, Wetzel says, "people who grew up with comic books."

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