A graphic novel is a book that uses a comic strip format to tell a story.
So, you may ask, how is that any different from a comic book? Well, while they both include illustrations and utilize the same strip format their similarities end there for the most part.
Graphic novels are more lengthy, in depth, and usually tie the story up in, if not one, then two or three novels. Comics on the other hand are shorter and the story progresses over multiple issues.
Now that we’ve distinguished what a graphic novel is, let’s move onto a bit of background.
While it is widely disputed, a majority of comic historians agree that the first graphic novel to be published was Will Eisner’s 1978 novel, “A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories.”
Since then, graphic novels have evolved from short stories to full blown chaptered narratives. Their popularity has also recently been on the rise among young adults with Brian Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim,” series.
Bechdel’s best selling novel “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” is a raw memoir of her turbulent upbringing.
The novel focuses on her life growing up in Pennsylvania with her father with whom she had a less than stellar relationship with.
Overall, it’s a brutally honest, no holds barred story that touches on multiple controversial themes such as sexual orientation, suicide, the effects of living with a toxic family, among many others. These themes are what got the book the No. 7 spot on the list of top 10 most challenged books of 2015.
The graphics in this story are very simple and detailed and compliment the narration very appropriately. The color scheme is black and white with light blue shading which represents the somber tone of much of the book. Additionally, some illustrations were inspired by her own family photos.
I read “Fun Home,” last year and I can still recall how exposed it made me feel. Though I have very little in common with Bechdel her vulnerability throughout the novel unwillingly transfers to the reader.
I would highly recommend this novel to anyone over the age of 16 with an interest in LGBT books.
My Rating: 4/5