Free Comic Book Day and The Growing Legitimacy of Comic Books as Literature

“I just don’t have time for books anymore.”

 
If you’re a working adult, or even just a busy person of indeterminate age, you may have heard this sentiment among your peers. Maybe even you have slipped into that tenebrific bookless existence. I am here to offer a solution you may not have considered before: graphic novels.

This Saturday, May 5th, is Free Comic Book Day, an event created in 2002 in order to celebrate and increase the visibility of independent comic sellers across the United States. Various comic publishers release special 1-issue samples for comic shops to give away on Free Comic Book Day. Series such as The Avengers, Tank Girl, Riverdale and many others are represented on the list of this year’s free comic samples. If you’ve ever been interested in the world of comics, but had no idea where to start, Free Comic Book Day could be an excellent, low-risk opportunity for you to make your entrance. Locally, businesses such as Paradox Comics and Cards and Comic Junction are joining in on the festivities, but for a list of participating businesses in your area, or for more information on the event, you can visit the official Free Comic Book Day website.

Maus, the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

There is something of a stigma surrounding comics and graphic novels. Their ample use of images rings in people minds as akin to childish picture-books. Much like cartoons, comics and graphic novels suffer from the assumption that only children can, or should, enjoy them. While children certainly enjoy reading comic books, and an ample supply of the comics on the market are meant for children, there is also a thriving market of comic stories meant to be relevant to adults. When it comes to comic books for adults, the thought is that with fewer words per page, this makes graphic novel reading easier and thus less fulfilling than reading a full prose novel. Additionally, there exists and undesirable stereotype about the kind of adult who reads comic books: that of an obsessive, dysfunctional, child-like adult. Let’s banish all of these misconceptions from our minds. Just as there is traditional literature of every genre for every age, so too, are there impactful comics for everyone of any background.

Hugo-Award Winning Graphic Novel: Saga

Comic books (as well as their Eastern counterpart, called manga/manhwa) have been making strides recently both in widespread popularity and in credibility as a legitimate form of art and storytelling. In 1992, the historical memoir graphic novel Maus, became the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize. As a result, it is often read alongside other historical literature in classrooms around the country. The first volume of Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ Saga series, a provocative space opera with elements of fantasy, won a Hugo Award in 2013.

In 2009, five comic book artists had their artwork displayed at the Louvre in Paris as a part of a special exhibit titled “The Louvre invites the Comics“. Among the participating artists was Hirohiko Araki of Japan, the mangaka (comic book artist) who created the internationally acclaimed manga series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Illustration by comic artist Hirohiko Araki, whose art has been featured in the Louvre.

As we can see, comics, manga, and graphic novels have continuously proven their legitimacy as a media for art and storytelling. They can offer a fulfilling reading experience for people of any age, often with a smaller time commitment. As a visual medium, graphic novels are distinctly poised to enrich the experience of stories in which world-building or character nuance is key. The novel’s artwork allows the author’s vision to be communicated in the truest way. There exist many comic book adaptations of already existing classic or acclaimed literature. Here is a list of 5 graphic novels based off your favorite stories to help get you break into the world of comics.

 


wrinkle-in-time-coverA Wrinkle In Time

Adapted by Hope Larson / Based on Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time
Grahic Novel – Monochrome / Sci-Fi, Adventure
Published by Margaret Ferguson Books

Many Americans remember A Wrinkle in Time as “that confusing sci-fi book” from their middle school English class days. You may have had the chance to revisit this story with the recently released live action adaptation. If you just can’t get enough, pick up a copy of Hope Larson’s A Wrinkle in Time and see how the medium of the graphic novel has transformed this familiar yet delightfully strange story.


3119150Emma

Adapted by Kaoru Mori (writing & art) / Based on Jane Austin’s Emma
Manga – Black and White / Historical Fiction, Romance
Published by Yen Press

In Japan, comic books are called manga, and have developed their own iconic look and conventions for telling stories.  They are marked by their unique art style (sometimes also referred to as “anime style,” after their animated, and more widely known equivalent) their inventive use of paneling and emotive character expression.

While I have not personally read this adaptation of Emma, I have read Mori’s other work, A Bride’s Story, a collection of stories from the perspective of different women in the historical Middle East and Central Asia. Mori’s artistic attention to detail, especially in clothes and home decor is astounding and her nuance in character development make her perfectly suited to adapting this classic novel.

Note: read from left to right, as per the original layout in the Japanese language.

 


max-ride-coverMaximum Ride

Adapted by Narae Lee (story & art) / Based on James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series
Manga – Black and White / Urban Fantasy, Action
Published by Yen Press

For the thrill junkie, check out Narae Lee’s adaptation of James Patterson’s wildly popular Maximum Ride series. The story centers around a “flock” of children all genetically enhanced with wings and other abilities, as they evade the cruel and shadowy organization that made them that way. I personally think that the fast-paced nature of the story and the fantastic details of the plot lend themselves better to a graphic novel than a traditional book. For that reason, this manga series is, in my opinion, the best way to experience the Maximum Ride saga.

 


lastunicorn_tpb_cvrThe Last Unicorn

Adapted by Peter B. Gillis (story) Renae De Liz (art) & Peter Dillion (art)
Based on Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn
Fantasy
Graphic Novel / Color
Published by Idea & Design Works LLC

You may take on look at that word “unicorn” and conjure up notions of silly, girlish, fantasies swathed in pink. Nevertheless, you will find something a fair bit more nuanced and mature in The Last Unicorn, though no less pretty to look at. This story feels equal parts folk and fairytale, and the art style of the graphic novel adaptation does an excellent job evoking the unnerving yet alluring nature of both. The story revolves around the eponymous last unicorn as she leaves her forest to search for her kin, rumored to be missing by malicious means. She is joined by a clumsy magician and courageous bar maid as they forge into the territory of the ruthless King Haggard in order to discover the truth.

 

 


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Adapted by Andy Seto (story & art)
Based on The Iron-Crane Pentology by Wang Dulu
Historical Fantasy, Wuxia (Martial Arts Action Adventure), Romance
Manhua / Color
Published by Comics One

You may not have known that director Ang Lee’s year-2000 award-winning martial arts epic was based upon a series of novels dubbed the Iron-Crane Pentology. Or that it was further adapted into a gorgeously illustrated manhua (Chinese graphic novel) series. Inspired in combination by the original novel series and the movie, this adaptation of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, offers an action-packed, drama-filled saga set in a fantastical interpretation of historical China surrounding the wielders of  the legendary sword, Green Destiny, and those who would seek to steal or destroy it.


Originally posted May 3, 2018
Written by Mikaila Norman

Literary Scavenger Hunt and Open Mic Night

New Rivers Press is partnering with MSUM Literary Magazine, Red Weather to host a Literary Scavenger Hunt and Open Mic Night for the students of MSUM.

Beginning at 2pm on Monday, November 6th Red Weather and New Rivers Press will be hosting a campus-wide scavenger hunt for free literary goodies! Students are encouraged to pick a literary item—their favorite book or a piece of their own original work—and hide it somewhere around campus to be found by other participants in the hunt. They may hide their special item wherever they please, but they must take a photo of the item in its place and post it on Instagram with the hashtag: #RWScavengerHunt. The item will then be up for grabs! Lucky hunters who find a literary treasure are then asked to re-post the item to their own Instagram announcing that it has been found. Finally, the finder is asked to replace the item with an item of their own in a spot of their choosing. (This is not mandatory but makes the hunt a little more interesting!)

Related imageThe hunt will end at 6 PM when the participants, as well as others on campus, are invited to join NRP and Red Weather in the Sun Garden Lounge located in the CMU! There will be spoken poetry, music and other performances by MSUM students, staff, and faculty!

Let us know if you think we should do other events like this, on the MSUM campus or in the Fargo-Moorhead area in the comments.

-Cameron S.

Books! FREE BOOKS!

Whether you’re a student, or full-time member of the work force you deserve a little treat for making it through the month of September. Our treat to you is the announcement of our very first Instagram book giveaway!  Also a fun way to celebrate National Book Month, this will (hopefully) become an annual event that our followers can look forward to. We hope this will give us the chance to engage with you, our social media masses, and reach out to a wider literary audience. So, please hop on over to our Instagram, and get in on the free book action!

Here’s how you enter for the oh-so-coveted chance to win a free book of your choosing:

  • Make sure you are following our Instagram account: @newriverspress
  • Like the post announcing the book giveaway
  • Tag a friend in the comments (make sure they like the post and follow our page as well!)
  • Wait (impatiently) for the contest window to close (Deadline specified in the Instagram post)

We will enter your name, as well as your friends, into a blind drawing to decide the FIVE winners of the contest. We ask that there be only one entry per person. The winners will be announced one at a time via our Instagram account. In the posts following the announcement of the first winner, we will include a list of the remaining options for prizes.

The five books featured in the giveaway are titles from the last publishing season. The winners will have their pick of the following titles published at New Rivers Press:

Flucht by Michelle Matthees

It Turns Out Like This by Stephen Coyne

We Got Him by Elizabeth Searle

American Fiction Volume 15, and

Frozen Voices by Lynne Heinzmann

 

In the time following the announcement of the giveaway we will be releasing short summaries of each of the possible book prizes to let our participants get an idea of which book they would like to receive should they be drawn as a winner.

Happy National Book Month!

—Cameron S

Fall Launch Events

newbanner

We have some early Halloween treats for you!

 

This October, we published five new books: It Turns Out Like This by Stephen Coyne, Flucht by Michelle Matthees, The Field by Tim Nolan, A Beautiful Hell by Carol Ratchenski, and American Fiction Volume 15. We have some upcoming events to celebrate their release.

 

Here’s a basic rundown:

  • Thursday October 27
    • Stephen Coyne, Michelle Matthees, Tim Nolan, and Carol Ratchenski will read excerpts from their new books. Refreshments will be served.
    • MSUM Comstock Memorial Union, 1104 7th Ave. S Moorhead, MN 56563
    • 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Friday October 28
    • Sip some hot coffee and listen to excerpts from our newest publications!
    • Babb’s Coffee House, 604 Main Ave. Fargo, ND 58103
    • 5:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Saturday October 29
    • Halloween-themed reading and activities, including trivia and a book-related costume contest.
    • Moorhead Public Library, 118 5th St. S Moorhead, MN 56560
    • 1:30-5:30 p.m.

 

Each author formulated a drink for his or her book, and we will be releasing them via our Facebook page throughout the next week. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to like our Facebook page so you don’t miss out! While you’re there, click “attend” on our launch events. That way you’ll get a reminder and can easily find all of the details.

 

We hope to see you there!

Catch NRP at Rain Taxi this Saturday: Twin Cities Book Festival


Rain Taxi is Minnesota’s own micro-AWP conference, and I look forward to it each year. The events, the local vendors and authors, and the speakers invite us into an exciting community of books.  The 2016 Rain Taxi events take place October 14th and 15th in the Progress Center and Fine Arts Building of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. New Rivers Press will once again be hosting a table in the book fair on October 15th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

blind-date-with-a-book
Are you ready for a blind date with a book?

This year, we are hoping to make our mark on Rain Taxi in our own special way with the introduction of Blind Date with a Book. If you’ve never had the pleasure of a blind date with a book before, the idea is simple. We have wrapped some of our older titles in heavy paper and written a few descriptive words on them (type of book, main theme, author origin, etc.) and you can select which book appeals to you most. This ‘blind’ book picking really helps you not judge a book by its cover! They are only $3 each, and we have plenty to look through. Visit our booth and feel like a kid on Christmas, weighing and feeling each book to try and find out their secrets. No peeking though!

 

the-field-tim-nolanIn addition to that new feature, we also have all of our newest titles available for sale at the book festival. New Rivers Press is happy to announce that our three new books of poetry: Tim Nolan’s The Field, Carol Kapaun Ratchenski’s A Beautiful Hell, and Michelle Mathees’s Flucht will all be on sale, the latter two will have been released just that day.

 

There will also be free prize drawings throughout the day. Come visit our newest authors to get the inside scoop on their inspiration for the book, the creative process, and what all a-beautiful-hell-carol-kapaun-ratchenskiwe do for our authors at New Rivers Press. Tim, Carol and Michelle—the authors mentioned above—will all be there to sign and talk about their new books; additionally, Julie Gard, author of last year’s Home Studies, will be there as well. Not only will we have authors to chat with, but you can meet students and interns of the NRP publishing program that we offer at MSU Moorhead.

 

Lastly, be sure to check out our table for information on our new T-shirt contest. We are seeking any creative flucht-michelle-mattheesminds to design and pitch us an (appropriate) snarky T-shirt for events just like Rain Taxi, as well as our online store. You can submit your ideas in person at Rain Taxi, but you can also share them via our social media. Whoever has the largest number of likes, retweets, shares, repins, and the like after the window closes will win the contest, earning the grand prize of $50, a New Rivers Press tote bag, and their design featured on shirts at literary conventions and in our online store.

 

 

You can find more information about Rain Taxi and their scheduled events on their website. We hope to see you there!

 

Written by Anna Landsverk
Originally published October 13, 2016