Well, I just finished reading my first so-called graphic novel, and it was quite an experience.
I was a big comic book reader back in my primary schools days. My Gran used to send comics from Scotland out for me and my sisters. I used to get Sparky and occasionally Beano. I loved their silliness and humour, but my experience with Art Spiegelman's MAUS, was a different type of enjoyment.
This giant comic book tells the true story of the writer's father Vladek before during and after the Holocaust of World War II, stretching from comfortable pre-war Poland, through the early Nazi occupation, onto the horrors of Auschwitz and across the other side of the world in the safe harbour of the United States of America.
Vladek is a Polish Jew and like all Jews in the tale he is drawn as a mouse. The Germans are drawn as cats, the Poles as pigs and the Americans as dogs.
Somehow, the comic book format really works. It takes a heinous part of history, rehumanises it (ironically since the Holocaust victims and perpetrators are drawn as animals) and reveals the period brutally, but letting the miracle of survival shine through.
Surprisingly, it also digs deep into the father/son relationship and even, a little, into romantic relationships.
I don't want to spoil anything. Go out and buy this book, read it, enjoy it, leave it on the bookshelf, then pick it up again down the track for another squiz. It's that good. (And, I'm not the only one who thinks so ... after all, it did win a Pulitzer Prize.