In celebration of my husband’s birthday, I read one of his favorite graphic novels, Stitches.
If my memory serves me, this is the only graphic novel I’ve ever read, which I’m a little ashamed to admit. Maybe I’ve read other ones, but I don’t know that I’ve ever finished one.
To try to get the full experience of graphic novels I asked my husband for some pointers. He said two things that are super obvious but that are also very hard for me:
- Take it slow.
- Don’t just read the words; really look at the pictures.
As much as I’d like to like visual art, it usually just doesn’t do much for me. I mean, I enjoy paintings and sculptures and murals and what not, but honestly, it doesn’t draw me in. Heck, even movies have a hard time holding my attention. Words, on the other hand, pull me in and keep me there pretty easily. But alas, this was for him, not me, so I kept those two bits of advice in mind and dove in eyes first.
Stitches by David Small was a great introduction to graphic novels in my opinion (and in my husband’s – apparently, that’s one reason he recommended it). It was accessible, simple, beautiful, and it told a good (albeit sad) story. The illustrations were fairly straightforward but contained enough complexity that I had to really look – just like Chris suggested.
This particular graphic novel was a memoir (another of my husband’s favorite things), with the author recounting his childhood. For the most part, it made my heart ache, and most of the time, it was the IMAGES that did that, not the words. Cool, right? This was so new for me!
Small did a great job pulling me in and keeping me there. I felt like I knew his parents by how he illustrated them, showed their expressions and movements, and added just the right words to top it all off. The pacing was great (which I was worried about), and I enjoyed the whimsical moments of seeing into a 6-year-old’s head, though those moments were scary and sad at times.
So if you like graphic novels, if you like memoirs, if you like stories about real families trying or not trying to deal with life – check out Stitches. Take it slow and really look.