The end of the year is almost upon us. After Little 500, we have “dead week,” finals week, and the great departure. For many, it will be a summer before we return; for seniors, these are the last few weeks in Bloomington. But as these weeks fly by, the work is not at all lessened. To the contrary, there are projects to be finished, papers to be written, and exams to be studied. The walls of Wells are packed to capacity nearly every night.
All of this work means that stress levels are high. This is understandable. One way to alleviate these stress levels is to get lost in a good book. Being able to turn off your mind and enjoy yourself for even a few hours is a great way to relieve some stress after hours of studying. At the same time, however, no one wants to get heavily involved in a story when there are other things that need to be done. This is also understandable. Therefore, a good stress reliever is a contained story deep enough to escape into, but not too deep that it is demanding. Perhaps the perfect solution is a graphic novel!
Graphic novels are far from “stories for kids.” Although there are many pictures, the stories can be incredibly exciting for all audiences, including mature adults. Some of the best graphic novels can be read in a single sitting and have the pace of an stimulating TV series. I’ve found myself wanting to read the next volume in a series much like I’m anticipating the next episode of a TV show. I’m currently midway through a series called Fables, and I can’t wait to get the next issue. Since most graphic novels are actually collections of several thirty-page comic books, there can be individual stories as well as arcs spreading over the collection. And you don’t have to look very far in Bloomington to find some!
We have graphic novels in both the Research and Core Collections of Wells Library. As with traditional books, some of the more emotional stories can be found in non-fiction graphic novels. Maus and Persepolis are both impactful memoirs tell biographical stories of important times in history. These are both examples of emotional, but beautiful tales.
As you know, many comics go on to become movies. One of the most famous fictional non-superhero graphic novels is Watchmen, the subject of the 2009 film of the same name. It has been lauded as one of the greatest collections in comic book history. If you are looking for a series, try The Sandman. Authored by Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Coraline), this multi-volume series is a narrative about Morpheus, the god of dreams. It is truly engaging and, personally, I think it would make a great film.
If you are a superhero fan, the library has examples from both DC AND Marvel. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, you can find some classic stories of your favorite superheroes. I recommend Batman: Year One or Marvels as two good entry points into superhero comics. Read into essential lists to dig into more of the characters you enjoy, and check out the Eisner Awards for some of the best in comics.
If you have just an hour or two to kill, consider picking up a graphic novel. They are quick, interesting, and most of all, fun. Wells is not the only place on campus to find them, though; the residence halls at Eigenmann, Collins, Teter, Willkie, Campus View, and Foster all have some on hand. Pick a couple up today, and you’ll find that they’re not just for children. And my guess is that you will find that they are quite addicting!