Graphic Novels

A graphic novel is a book length story or anthology told primarily with illustrations. The genre includes a number of different formats. A graphic novel can be a compilation of previously published comic books that contain a story arc. It can also be an anthology of complete or continuing stories. These stories can be original to the anthology or previously published in comic book or magazine form. A graphic novel can also be an original novel or series of novels that may or may not have been previously published in another form.

Some people believe graphic novels are glorified comic books and, in certain cases, they’re right. However, many graphic novels contain rich stories greatly enhanced by the use of illustration. Graphic novels aren’t just for people who want something easy to read with lots of pictures. The genre has gained respect over the years and graphic novels have won prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.

In terms of story, graphic novels tend toward speculative fiction. A fair number could be considered literary fiction. “Maus” by Art Spiegelman is a memoir of his parents, both Holocaust survivors, and his own youth as he struggles to understand them. In a whimsical yet controversial touch, Spiegelman portrayed Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs and Americans as dogs. “Maus” was first published in serial form in the underground comic magazine, “Raw.” It won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

Other graphic novels have been praised and awarded for literary as well as artistic achievements. “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi tells the author’s coming of age tale in revolutionary Iran. “American Born Chinese” by Gene Luen Yang uses myth and stereotypes to tell an outsider’s story. “Ghost World” by Daniel Clowes portrays the confusion and alienation of post-high school teens trying to find their way in the world.

Super hero-style comics are a popular genre for graphic novels. Go into any good comic bookstore and you’ll see multiple shelves of these books, which are often purchased by readers more interested in the story and the characters than in collecting individual comic books.  Well-known authors include Alan Moore (“Watchmen,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and “Batman: The Killing Joke”), Neil Gaiman (“The Sandman”) and Frank Miller (“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” “300” and “Sin City”).

Like regular novels, graphic novels have well-established publishing houses such as DC and Marvel. There is also a strong tradition of independent publishing known as underground comics. Edgy and unrestrained, these comics can occasionally gain wide audiences. Bryan Lee O’Malley published his “Scott Pilgrim” graphic novels with Portland, Oregon-based Oni Press. The series gained a cult following, sold millions of copies and was adapted into a movie and a video game.

A growing number of graphic novels are being adapted into electronic format. In my opinion, these are better viewed on a tablet or computer screen rather than a conventional eReader such as the Kindle. Below, I’ve listed several free-for-now graphic novels available in the Kindle store.

  Twilight Lady #1 by Blake JK Chen
Introducing a unique new heroine to the world of illustrated fiction! Paranormal journalist and truthseeker Rona Eden has a close encounter with a mysterious hooded lady who appears to have killed several people in Detroit’s Cass Corridor neighborhood.

  Photo Booth by Lewis Helfand
He wanted to change the past, but first he would have to alter the future…A new deadly drug is about to flood the streets of New York City. The police have no leads on who is producing the drug, or where it is coming from. As far as Praveer Rajani, a wreckless Interpol agent, is concerned – the only way to prevent countless deaths lies in a handful of mysterious photographs.Within the photographs, Praveer can see images of places he has never known, and people he has long forgotten. But what are the photographs leading him to?

  Dead of Winter: A Comic Anthology
Horror Stories With The Setting of Winter.

  P.I. Jane; Volume One: Missions: Totally Do-Able by Lauren Burke
MEET JANE DAY. She’s a twenty-something temp-by-day, detective-by-night… and sometimes also by-day. Jane lives inside her head as much as outside of it. To fight the mundane (and even not so mundane), she retreats to a fantasy world in her mind wehre the pop-culture references are plentiful and comforting. Follow Jane in her private detective salad days surveilling Lindelof & Lindelof heir, Chad Lindelof, Jr. She’ll learn the ropes working undercover to bust the shady, bootlegging Li’l Susie Bees, and solving the mystery at the roller derby. Then she takes a breather and reads about her favorite comic strip, PIE V. CAKE.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

The Big Bang Theory of Comic Books

Free Comic Books!

I am a big “Big Bang Theory” fan. I love the characters and how the show sometimes gets geek culture right. However, BBT can also get geek culture wrong. Case in point, last night’s episode, “The Bakersfield Expedition.”

What it got right: the men heading for Bakersfield Comic-Con, all too eager to cosplay their “Star Trek: The Next Generation” characters.

What it got wrong: the women staying behind to puzzle over why the men read comic books.

Back in the day, I was an avid comic book collector. While I particularly liked the X-Men universe, I also enjoyed the more subversive stuff, like “Watchmen” and “Love and Rockets.” On Friday nights, my friends and I, all women, would go to the local comic book store, pick up our weekly supply of titles, then go grab a pizza and head home to make an evening of it. Good times.

The stereotype didn’t hold then and it doesn’t hold now. Women of all ages read, write and draw comics, manga, graphic novels, whatever you want to call them.

Whatever your gender, whether you love comics or are interested in becoming acquainted  with them again, you can find an abundance of free resources online. I’m focusing on what’s available in the Kindle Store and iTunes. Note, many of these books can only be viewed on a computer or a tablet, but not on a conventional eReader like the Kindle Touch.

Both the Kindle Store and iTunes have a nice selection free comics and graphic novels. Some are complete books while others are previews, meaning only a portion of the story is available. For example, Vertigo’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is available as a preview. I have both the print and digital copies and think it’s really nicely done. The Amazon version has low ratings because, for some reason, some people thought they should be getting the actual full, written novel. For free. Even though the blurb clearly states this is a graphic novel preview. Don’t be that person.

Getting to the freebies on iTunes can be a little tricky. On your computer, go to iTunes. Go to the store. Go to the search box in the upper right corner and type in “free comics.” This should take you to a screen with different options. The top option should be “books.” Click “See All.” These comics can be downloaded to a computer or to an iPad through the iBooks app.

You can find the Amazon freebies through the Kindle Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels. These can be downloaded to a computer or a tablet with the Kindle app.

I’ve listed a few of the free titles available from the Kindle store. As always, I cannot guarantee these are forever free, so grab them now. Then join me, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Howard, and hopefully, Penny, Amy and Bernadette as we enjoy the wonderful world of graphic novels.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Special Edition Preview  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Special Edition Preview
Get an advance look at the Vertigo graphic novel adaptation of the international best-selling thriller, scheduled to hit shelves November 2012, and featuring the work of acclaimed author Denise Mina! Delve into the dark mystery of the Vanger family, as disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to uncover the truth behind a teenage girl’s disappearance over forty years ago.

Spy6teen #1  Spy6teen #1
The debut issue from Sandbox Comics, Spy6teen– which originally appeared on Zuda, bursts into an on-going series! CallyCalhoon wants to be a model student, but that’s not easy when herafter school job is with a secret government unit called THE QUAD! Hi-Spy espionage before the first bell rings!

Gen #1  Gen #1
Four previously unpublished stories straight from the Tokyo underground.

John Woo's Seven Brothers - Free Preview  John Woo’s Seven Brothers – Free Preview
A free first issue preview of the comic book series created by acclaimed filmmaker John Woo, (Mission Impossible 2; Face-Off; Red Cliff) and written by acclaimed comic book writer Garth Ennis (Punisher, The Boys, Preacher) with striking artwork from Jeevan J. Kang (Nowhere Man, Ramayan 3392AD, H20).

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.