Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Graphic Novel Book Review

Comic books, graphic novels, whatever you call them, I still find them entertaining, and just as good a read as the 500 page, 5pt font book on the highest shelf of the library. Just because it's full of pictures doesn't change anything.

My point is, I just finished reading Page by Paige, by Laura Lee Gulledge. A wonderful 192 page book following a comic style, while adding an artistic element to the pictures and themes throughout.

Paige Turner, (her parents are writers) has just moved from Virginia to New York. She's an aspiring artist who is losing faith her ability, and herself. Through a promise to herself to try to change things, she makes new friends, gains some confidence, and illustrates the entire journey in her sketch book, which is more or less the book that is being read.

It didn't take long to read. It took maybe an hour or two to get through with no distractions, aside from dinner. From page one I liked it. I like the quirky little drawings, and the more meaningful ones. Page lives very much inside her head, and it comes out in her life through these drawings. A sign that lists sketchbooks for sale becomes "best friends" for sale, and a cold wind literally cuts through her.

She exaggerates differences between herself and others. One instance in particular that I liked was an image of a group of students and herself, showing only the legs and the feet. Paige was the only one in a pair of jeans and Converse surrounded by leggings and Uggs. Which quite frankly, was my high school experience.

Some other little things I loved about this book that added to the experience include the fact that it's completely in black and white. So I think instead of being overwhelmed by color, we're sucked into the story itself. The author also made a font out of her handwriting for the text. And all throughout the book there were subtle references to different bands, and other aspects of her real life.

But in my opinion, the greatest thing about this book was how inspirational it is. It applies to anyone struggling in an art form, not just sketch artists, or people who put wheat-paste art on the walls of a city. Paige not only helps herself, but her friends -- a singer, a comic artist, and a writer -- through the same fears we all have as we work to reach our dreams. Fear of rejection, fear of self doubt, fear of losing touch with doing something we love.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever worried if their art was ever good enough, or to anyone who ever felt like they didn't quite belong, and to anyone who has ever lived in their head.

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