Getting to Grips
with Graphic Novels & Manga
This document should help give you pointers with regard to assessing graphic novels and manga and in gaining an understanding of the issues in reading, creating and analyzing these texts.
If non-fiction, what is the subject area? How well does it cover the area?
If fiction, what genre? (If any)
Is it physically well-produced and attractive?
Is the storyline imaginative, coherent and interesting?
Is the text legible or is it obscured by illustration? Is the text hard to follow? Why?
Is the language accessible and appropriate?
Does the cover art do justice to what is contained within (and vice versa)?
If the images are black and white will they appeal to the target audience? (Keep in mind that manga is typically black and white and that this has changed audience expectations, in that colour is no longer typically seen as the 'preferred norm').
Is it printed in colour? Is the printing of high quality?
Are the illustrations of a high technical and artistic standard?
Do the illustrations merely adhere to the narrative sequence or do they provide a commentary/counterpoint/expansion on the written word?
Do the illustrations move the story forward? Are the words and pictures interdependent?
Does the graphic novel or manga make full and creative use of the full range of comic strip grammar and conventions?
Are techniques from the language of film used? (such as flashbacks, establishing shots, tracking shots, close-ups, high and low angle shots, etc.)
Who is the intended audience in terms of age and gender? Are there several potential audiences?
How does the book deal with issues of race, gender and class?
If violence occurs is it gratuitous, or a necessary part of the plot?
If this book was going into a library collection, where would it be located? Adult? Teen? Child?
How, if at all, could the book be used in the classroom?