Visually Driven Graphic Novels

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Visually Driven Graphic Novels

Who needs all those dialogue bubbles anyway?

Why spend so much time reading, when the whole genre includes visuals?  This is a special pet peeve of mine from reading all those long dialogue exchanges in the X-men comics of the 90's.  Then cut to a fight scene, then back to dialogue at the mansion. So here is a little medicine for those who want the pictures to carry the load:
 
Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
Unflattening is a true philosophical discourse rendered in images.  The author worked on it as part of his PhD work and it takes the position that visuals are as important as words in how we conceive of ideas.  My top read for the year, despite being four years old.  Explores some more complicated ideas, so teen-adult.
 
Cicada by Shaun Tan
Don’t let the shelf location in Children’s fool you.  This short picture book is moving and profound.  The staff reactions went from tears to jumping out of the seat.  I would suggest a parental read before sharing it with the kids.
 
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly
This is the only one on the list that takes on a more traditional comic style.  However, it delivers its narrative visually.  I first skimmed the comic and came away with a clear understanding of its story and central conflict.  Words do what they should in a visual medium, compliment and extended what the pictures are telling us.  A great title for working with grief around death and dying.
 
The World of Edena by Moebius
This is a big trippy book about a crazy adventure.  It's an Inter-dimensional romp through fantastical landscapes, and the pages drip with symbolism.  Two characters separated by strange events and stranger enemies fight to be reunited.  From master illustrator Jean Giraud, for adults.
 
Here by Richard McGuire
This book takes as its subject a single room, shown over the course of hundreds and thousands of years.  I’m not sure where it fits in any list, but I put it here because of its radically austere approach to visual storytelling.  Conceptual, for adults.
 
Wordless Books by David Berona
This book is the master key of block printed books from an era before graphic novels or even comics.  The images are compelling and taken together drive narratives and deliver meaning.  I set this one at the opposite end from Unflattening, because I think it represents the initiation of an idea while Unflattening is its full realization.  It’s not a full story but an anthology of works not otherwise accessible.  Teen-adult.