Are Graphic Novels Better Suited to Telling Non-fiction Stories than Prose?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story looks at the new graphic novel Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel (DC Comics/Vertigo).

The story is based on the life of artist Inverna Lockpez, a Cuban dissident who was tortured and eventually escaped the island. The intensity of both the violence and emotion of the story is visceral, something he manages to convey in his drawings. Had the same story been told in prose, it would have certainly been different, but would it have been as powerful? As the cliche goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words and imagery has an undeniable power to express intense emotions — love, hate, anger, fear — in a way that prose often cannot.

Over the past decade, publishers have turned to using graphic novels to explain complex non-fiction stories, from FSG’s 9/11 Commission Report to Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde to Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, among numerous others. This is not so suggest that one medium is superior to the other, but do graphic novels have an advantage over prose works in depicting certain kinds of stories?

Read our story and let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.