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The Art of Comics & Graphic Novels

Updated on September 25, 2012
That's me!
That's me! | Source

My talk on Graphic Novels

This hub came from a talk I gave at the premises of the local British Council Library,on the occasion of a nationwide exhibition of Graphic Novels. The link below will take you to what a leading newspaper thought of my talk.

Comic Books a.k.a. Graphic Novels

Mr Graphic Novel is Li'l Old Comic Book who has made a name for himself. He has been called other names by the publishing industry as well: illustrated book, picture novel... His ancestors were pretty interesting too and entertained our ancestors from cave dwelling times.

I have been a reader and fan of comics since kidhood, and a writer and illustrator of them for the last twenty years. Now I do a series called Rhy the Rhino for a children's magazine Toot.

I am taking three other routes to this exploration of comics, to try to understand the form better.

1. Historical Presence or Ancestry

2. Reading Habits

3. Art

Come join me and have fun!

Cave Painting at Bhimbetka, India
Cave Painting at Bhimbetka, India
Egyptian wall painting Tomb of Nakht, 18th Dynasty Thebes
Egyptian wall painting Tomb of Nakht, 18th Dynasty Thebes
Bayeux Trapestry Bayeux, Normandy, France 50 cm by 70 m
Bayeux Trapestry Bayeux, Normandy, France 50 cm by 70 m
Another view of the trapestry
Another view of the trapestry

Ancestry of the comic form

Cave paintings were the earliest form of recording stories. Some of them, like the one on the right, portrayed an incident in sequential form. Sequential is the keyword. That is why cave art is the earliest known ancestor of Mr Graphic Novel, the most evolved form of sequential art.

The Egyptians painted the walls of their tombs with stylized portrayals of how agriculture was pursued in those days or what happens to the soul after death. Look at the one I put up, and see how similar the layout is to a single page comic? It even has text to explain things, just as comics have balloons and captions.

The Bayeaux Trapestry is a nearly 70 metre long portrayal of the events leading to the Norman invasion of England with annotations. British comic book artist Bryan Talbot called it "the first known British comic strip."

I rest my case.

From  a primer I illustrated
From a primer I illustrated
From one of my picturebooks, 'The Runaway Pancake'
From one of my picturebooks, 'The Runaway Pancake'
One of my comics!
One of my comics!

Reading Ability & Growing Up

Now let's take the route of age-groups and reading ability, how we graduated from picture books to books with only text as we grew up.

I have been mostly illustrating picture books for the last twenty three years. And picture books are for the littlest ladies and gents. Kids start with alphabet and picture books, that have a big picture for each page or a spread, with minimal text.Then, as they grow up, the text gets smaller in size and more in wordcount. Between that and pictureless books, children pick up comics, which function as great bridges from big pictures to pictureless text. Some, like me, never outgrow comics, and never let go of that enjoyment. For that matter, I still love picture books!

These are two approaches we can take to understand the evolution of the comic form and appreciate its importance. The third, and most important one is to secure its place in Art, as I intend to prove that the comic form is one of the best representatives of contemporary art. Or Modern Art, as they have been calling it for centuries.

That's in my next hub, please!

My first graphic novel with Asvin Srivatsangam
My first graphic novel with Asvin Srivatsangam

Some of my books :)


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    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      8 years ago from Chennai

      Sure I will, RJ, though I am afraid I can't be very critical. :)

    • profile image

      reynold jay 

      8 years ago

      Absolutely gorgeous art. I got sucked into the whole portfolio and love everyone of them. I did computer art for a novel. I started with what I thought would be a nice rough , but the computer experience made it look quite nice. I really haven't shown it to anyone. If you would take a look at it and offer a short comment, I'd appreciate it. Go to and then Writing Projects in left pane . See Mansa Musa art. Don't be afraid to be very critical.RJ

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      8 years ago from Chennai

      Oh, thank you, Hello hello! :))

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Very interesting and informative hub. Thank you.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      8 years ago from Chennai

      This morning I start the day with blessings from the EarthAngel! An even lovelier way to start the day! Thank you for this, dear Sapphire! :)))

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 

      8 years ago

      Dearest Kenny,

      Your books are DELIGHTFUL!! You are such a talented, creative artist and author! What a lovely way to start the morning with bright colors and happy messages!! You are just the BEST!!

      Blessings to you and yours, Earth Angel!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      8 years ago from Chennai

      Yes, Violet, it's wonderful and I wish that for everyone. Thank you for the first comment! :))

    • VioletSun profile image


      8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Its good to see you back in Hubpages. Enjoyed the history of comics and your illustrations. What a wonderful way to earn your living, doing what you love. :)


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