I had an interesting debate last evening on whether graphic novels are considered literature or comic books. Academia in the United States will have a varied opinion on this question with extreme views leaning heavily on no and yes. It does pose an interesting line of discussion that goes much deeper than black or white. The traditionalist view of comic books is that there is an inherent struggle between good and bad; heroes and villains; right and wrong. That methodology of thinking has changed introducing a deeper shade of gray. With the upcoming adaptation of the graphic novel into film, we will witness Batman and Superman pinned up against each other. Both have battled their own inner demons in the past, but they represent the moral good. Why would they be battling each other?
Graphic novels today are taking us to a new way of thinking and a new way of learning. A form of storytelling that was once deemed unacceptable in schools is now a part of literary teaching.
Why do graphic novels add a new element to the way students are learning literature:
- Graphic Novels / Comics are understandable and engaging to today’s youth.
- They allow us to overcome our own real life fears and struggles by connecting to the heroes and all they had to overcome (alienation, abandonment, death).
- There is a sense of loyalty to the battle. Heroes and villains have a history that is uncovered with each issue that deepens the impact of the struggle.
- Today’s society no longer has clear cut definitions of right and wrong. We struggle every day with poverty, overpopulation, unemployment, mental illness, social alienation, relationship barriers and more. Sometimes decisions that may be morally wrong in some eyes have a greater good to another.
- Graphic novels are not linear. We must look closely at images, dialogue and story to uncover hidden secrets and truths within the lives of the characters. There is a true complexity within the stories.
- So many thrive for a world of escape. Whether it is better or not is not the critical question. Why we need this temporary escape is. If this weren’t true, Marvel films would not be making 1.3 billion dollars with each Avengers release.
- In the world of academia, we will always need Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. We also need to find a way to relate to a generation wrought with creativity, angst, apathy and doubt.
Now, how is this comparable to a adaptation within your career?
Otherwise, there wouldn’t be value in this article. Change is inevitable. I have witnessed in my professional career, the birth of the internet, applicant tracking systems, automation, social networking, video interviewing and Infographics. The entire playing field has changed.
My first internship in recruitment:
- I recorded our job openings on a cassette tape for candidates to dial in and listen to.
- All resumes were in a tan metal filing cabinet
- All applicants had to do a basic math and English test in the lobby
- We manually called each candidate to reject or extend offers
Big changes. As professionals we need to embrace change. I am not telling all of you seasoned professionals you should drop Turner Classic Movies and start an Instagram account. Nor am I saying learn Ruby on Rails or HTML web development. I am saying to never lose site of the pure thirst for learning. Employers offer thousands of internal and external resources to continue to develop your skills.
In fact, I was forced to learn basic HTML web page editing when we did not have a resource and I learned all I needed from YouTube videos.
A few tips:
- Look at where you are and where you are going. What is your long term career passion? Do you have the skills for where you want to be and if not, what is your goal to get there?
- What is your action plan? Create a project plan on how you want to achieve your goals.
- Do not walk in with any personal limitations. If you feel like you cannot learn a skill, you won’t. It is that simple.
- Reward yourself with each milestone.
There you have it. Never stop expanding your mind. It is a simple rule for success. We can thank Superman and Batman for today’s lesson.