Humber’s Math and Writing Center of Humber College yesterday hosted three of Toronto’s most prominent graphic novelists, Ryan North, Teva Harrison and Rosena Fung, who shared examples of their works and engaged with a student audience.
The North campus gathering was part of an ongoing book club that has students as well as staff read, analyze and discuss novels to bring out a sense of literary criticism along with a deeper understanding of the work.
“I was at first skeptical or dim in understanding about the whole concept of graphic novels but was surprised to find literary depth in them,” said Franc Jamieson, coordinator of the centre.
Comic books are a pictographical storytelling modality that has always been ideal to engage youngsters and proves to still be one of the most popular cultural products today. A graphic novel is similar to a comic but identifies itself as a book divided by content and art side by side in different proportions to one another.
While comics dealt with a particular superhero and ran in a series formula spanning decades, graphic novels are simply books containing all the properties of what a novel would hold accompanied by art on alternate pages (or even every page) skillfully portrayed by the authors themselves most of the time.
The genres and content deal with practically anything that resonates in the cultural environment, not necessarily catering to a younger reader.
Rosena Fung, whose work appears in the Globe and Mail as well as Boston Globe, suggested that one can gain rich experience from graphic novels, taking in the idea that they could be used as platforms to introduce serious issues.
Ryan North, who introduced his latest book titled Romeo and or Juliet, has penned the graphiuc novel in such a manner that the reader can choose their “own adventure” where each plot goes into a different direction, branching out into various subplots depending on the reader’s choice. North is a skilled artist who confirmed, “images and content must resonate with each other for a better picture.”
Teva Harrison, who is fighting cancer, brings out a deep sense of catharsis in her work as a novelist. Answering a student’s question, she suggested that bringing out her latest piece In-between days has given her a sense of relief with a thought of reaching out to patients who undergo similar treatment and trauma as her.
“If a person is portrayed (in the story), the reader has an empathetic sense of the content,” she told the gathering.
“This is certainly an interesting panel with serious discussion about their choice of genres which I find intriguing,” said Benjamin Dimaria, a first year Humber electrical student. “The ‘choose your adventure’ is a fresh idea of storytelling that I had not been exposed to.”