My search began standing in front of the "graphic novel" shelves -- a foreign place for me.
Talk about overwhelming! I had NO idea what to look for. I knew not to look at the manga section, so I easily passed up those shelves and the turn-table displays full of manga books and turned on my critical eye looking for a reputable graphic novel.
Sadly, I judged a book by it's cover. I skipped over the Sailor Moon-like books, and began looking, looking, looking for something I wasn't quite sure about.
First book I saw that didn't remind me of an early 90s cartoon was Tolkien's The Hobbit.
It's credible, right? A classic turned into a graphic novel. I felt like I'd hit the jackpot. I grabbed it and thumbed through the pages. Hardcover. Colorful drawings. Looks comic-booky. Flipped it to the back to look for a price and screamed (internally): $20!!!! Negative. I'm not paying $20 for a comic. I moved on.
Next book: Jodi Picoult's first graphic novel Wonder Woman: Love & Murder.
I love Jodi's books. She's a great writer. I remembered reading an article about it in The Writer a while ago, so I found this book credible (mostly because Jodi wrote it). I couldn't open it because it was wrapped in plastic (ggrrrrrr). Hardcover again. Price: $20. Sorry Jodi. I just can't fathom paying that much up front for a book that's going to take me an hour or so to read.
Next book: Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth.
My sad, but honest to God response: "MUPPPPETS!" Yes. I know. I examined the book as I did the others. Paper back. Non-glossy pages. Looks okay. I still can't look at it and think "novel" it's just a thick comic book. Not sure how credible it is as a graphic novel. No muppets. Cost: $10. Better price. I probably would have bought it if I'd seen Kermit.
Next book: Jeffery Brown's Clumsy.
It says "A Novel" on the cover. Do we have a winner?! It's $10. At this point I'd come to realize that most of these books, bought new, would be around $10-$20. Astronomical! No wonder they're being pushed! I start thumbing through. WOW. You definitely don't have to be an artist to get these things published! His drawings are slightly amateur, but wonderful (see excerpt here). Anyway, the novel is a compilation of short stories about the clumsy beginnings of a relationship, about loving and about losing.
From the back of the book:
"Clumsy is the story of a new relationship and is stunning in it's realism and honesty. The frailty of the drawn line perfectly matches the human frailty portrayed within the story. It's just so damn human. This is my favorite graphic novel ever. Even if Jeffrey Brown never draws another line again, he has already won a permanent place in my heart. Still, I want more." ~ James Kochalka
I felt sort of connected to it--what little I skimmed--so I bought it. I haven't started reading yet. I wanted to tell ya'll about my discovery. I looked it up on amazon.com--could have bought it used for $5 (grrrrr). I think this might be a good start into graphic novels for me.
It's got romance. I'm a sucker for all things romantic.
Update: So, I finished "Clumsy". Verdict = I really enjoyed it. Of course I don't know how to really critique it since I'm not familiar with what makes graphic novels good. I laughed at some parts, smiled at others, so I suppose it's good to evoke some type of emotion from me. Anyway, I recommend it.