BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Buddha by Osamu Tezuka [in Bloomsbury Review]

BuddhaBuddha, Volume 1: Kapilavastu
Buddha, Volume 2: The Four Encounters
Buddha, Volume 3: Devadatta
Buddha, Volume 4: The Forest of Uruvela
Buddha, Volume 5: Deer Park
Buddha, Volume 6: Ananda
Buddha, Volume 7: Prince Ajatasattu
Buddha, Volume 8: Jetavana

Graphic novels are big news these days. If you’re a fairly avid reader, you can’t help but notice that stories with pictures are not just for the kids anymore. Even if you’re not a pop-culture connoisseur (which I do not claim to be), you can’t have missed the graphic novels popping up on the best-seller lists. Think Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Persepolis 2, both of which topped numerous lists, bringing to life her unforgettable memories about growing up in post-revolution Iran in the late 1970s and 1980s. Once considered a specialized niche-genre, graphic novels have undoubtedly moved squarely into the mainstream over the last 10 to 15 years.

When Art Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for Maus – a story of the Holocaust made that much more visceral, that much more undeniable, with Spiegelman’s haunting visualization – the genre got its can’t-be-ignored nod of mainstream (maybe even high-brow?) approval.

In October 2006, when Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (see article in this issue) became the first-ever graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award in the prestigious honor’s 57-year history, the event set off a virulent chain of detractors and many more supporters slugging it out as to whether graphic novels are NBA-worthy. The supporters clearly won, thank goodness.

Bottom line: What’s not to like about a fabulous story that also happens to be enhanced and embellished with equally amazing pictures?

So if you’re new to the genre, and you’re willing to give the graphic novel a try, you might as well go directly to the Master, the late Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), considered to be the godfather of manga, the Japanese version of the graphic novel. “There’s a reason why the Japanese call [him] the God of Comics,” says Gene Yang. “He can pull off such a range of emotion, and he weaves plots that really hook you in. All with this simple, big-eyed art style.” (Purists will argue until they’re blue in the face about the true definitions of manga, graphic novels, comics, comic books, comics narratives, Eastern/Western/European styles and formats, and so on, but for us laypeople, we’ll stay with “manga” and “graphic novels” as virtually interchangeable terms to describe the perfect-balance-of-pictures-and-words category.) …[click here for more]

Review: The Bloomsbury Review, January/February 2007

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2003-2006 (United States)


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