Module 2-Analyzing Graphic Novels


Time to Start Thinking About Analyzing and Researching Graphic Novels

This module will have us looking at THREE elements:

  1. Ways to further our understanding and analyzing of Graphic Novels in preparation for our research.
  2. Finally, we will begin looking at the research process, the questions to ask, and begin our examination of our textbook the Craft of Research.
  3. A link to an excellent source material from the University of Texas at El Paso



The First Element

Here is some helpful information from the West Virginia University, with a link below with more assistance:

You will find articles in magazines, journals, and newspapers. You can find articles about graphic novels and manga, as well as illustrators and writers. You may find interviews, discussion, opinions, and book reviews. To do a complete search for relevant articles, you must look in several databases.

When reviewing results, use the Find it @ WVU button if the article does not have a full text, linked full text, or PDF link. If we have the full article in another database, it will lead you there. If we don’t have access to the article, you can order it through ILLiad (Interlibrary Loan).

Academic Search Complete covers many subjects and includes scholarly articles, book reviews, and magazine and newspaper articles.

Arts and Humanities Citation Index will lead to scholarly articles in important journals.

Lexis-Nexis Academic provides full text newspaper articles from over 5900 newspapers.

MLA International Bibliography is a great source for articles about specific graphic novels and graphic novels in general.

Project Muse is a full text humanities database and is another good source for articles.

West Virginia Libraries:

Many of the online journals above are accessible through Collin College Library and can be accessed as sources and location for articles about graphic novels.

You can also utilize Google and in particular to find resources for research as well.

More information and resources can be found at the San Jose State University Library as well.

Finally, here is some Graphic Novel 101 that can help you get started as you are reading them and wanting analyze them.

One Last piece of helpful information, I have a file here for you that can be helpful in general and serve as possibly a general resource, along with Scott McCloud, for your Research Papers: Writing About Comics and Graphic Novels

The Second Element

How to get started, well, with questions.

Here are some starting questions you can ask:

What kinds of questions can/should we ask when analyzing, exploring, and reading graphic novels?

General Questions

  • What was your first reaction to what you saw?
  • What did you think of the quality of the art? What did you think about the quality of the story?
  • Do you know anyone that might like to read this graphic novel? Why is that?
  • Who might be the audience for book like this?
  • What, if anything, might someone learn from reading what you saw?
  • Did you see anything that would cause you to hesitate to purchase a particular title? If so, what did you see and why would you hesitate? Have you purchased books that included similar subject matter? Movies? What’s the difference?
  • Can you imagine someone in your community objecting to one of the books that you saw? How would you respond?


Research and Analysis Questions

Questions of Plot

  • What is the unique story that the graphic novel aims to tell?
  • What is the significance of that story?
  • Who are the characters?
  • Where is the story set (place and time)?
  • Is the story inspired by events in real life?

Questions of Aesthetics

  • Is there something unique and interesting about the art style of the graphic novel?
  • How does the art of the graphic novel affect the reader?
  • Does the art have a specific impact or purpose?

Questions of Layout/Arrangement

  • What is the arrangement or way in which the graphic novel tells its story?
  • Is the arrangement of the story affect how it is read?
  • Does the arrangement enhance or limit comprehension of the story?

Questions of Style

  • How can you analyze the way that the author and artist seek to communicate their message in the graphic novel?
  • Are their levels to the style?
  • How does the style reach or not reach an intended audience?

Questions of Genre

  • What genre of story is your graphic novel? Horror? Superhero? Romance? Memoir?
  • Is your graphic novel a mixed genre? If so, what genres?
  • What are the elements of that genre?
  • How are those elements depicted in the graphic novel?
  • What are the tropes and figures of your graphic novel?

Questions of Interpretation

  • Is there an argument the authors are trying to make in their graphic novel?
  • What is that argument?
  • Do they use cause and effect?
  • Are the author’s wishing to compare and contrast something?

The Third Element

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UTEP – Ways of Analyzing