[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Two sure signs the year is drawing to an end: It's snowing in Massachusetts and the Best of the Year lists are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly released theirs yesterday, and there's something interesting about it: Although there is a separate category for comics, several graphic novels are nominated in other categories as well.
This is by no means unprecedented—after all, Maus, one of the first graphic novels, won a Pulitzer Prize—but we seem to be seeing more of it. Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. This is a prize with only three categories, yet two graphic novels made the final round (the other was Cece Bell's El Deafo, which was a finalist in the Young Readers category). Gene Yang was a speaker at the National Book Festival gala in September, giving him a prominent platform to speak to general readers who might pick up a graphic novel, as opposed to die-hard fans of the medium, and it's become more and more common for graphic novels to make the shortlists for general book awards.
Chast's book makes PW's Best Comics list, which is not surprising. I just read it yesterday and it's really, really good. The rest of the list is pretty respectable too, four books that all fall into what I think of as the Serious Indy category: Farel Dalrymple's The Wrenchies, Eleanor Davis's How to Be Happy, Jaime Hernandez's The Love Bunglers, and Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Beautiful Darkness. That's a pretty solid list, although one wonders why they couldn't have come up with more than five titles, when some of the other categories have more than ten. It's been a pretty good year for graphic novels.
Anyway, here's the thing: El Deafo makes the Middle Grade list and both Emily Carroll's Through the Woods and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's This One Summer are included on the Young Adult list. Looking at these lists, it's clear that they were intended to cross genres—they include works from the other categories, such as poetry—but it's still pretty cool that each one includes at least one graphic novel.
As both Chast's book and El Deafo illustrate, a good story has a lot of crossover potential. Marketing graphic novels to the general public has been something of a challenge, but this sort of visibility makes it easier—once one is out there, more will follow.