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Graphic Novel Gon Again

Five Great Comics Without Words

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then why bother with writers at all? Comics without words require literacy and empathetic ability. Where narration and dialog would tell a reader the context of each graphical passage, readers must instead navigate the significance of images and the passage of time between them in order to understand the comic’s full meaning. In the following five examples, readers of all ages will find plenty to enjoy in the universal language of visual art.

1. The Arrival, Shaun Tan

The experience of immigration is captured here in all of its excitement, confusion, fear, discovery, and determination. Without words, the migrant protagonist could be leaving from anywhere to anywhere, except the new country in The Arrival is filled with wonders great and small. Each page could stand on its own in a museum gallery, but combined they form a tale able to draw in any reader. This book is a personal favorite and a go-to title for convincing others the power of comic narratives.

2. Gon, Masashi Tanaka

Gon is a dinosaur out of time, having somehow survived the extinction of all other dinosaurs. He is a squat omnivore with no specific origin or goal besides survival. He regularly befriends or challenges a gathering of animals and comes out of each confrontation with a new friend. The artwork is detailed and sumptuous, with line work that comes close to lifelike portraits if not for Gon’s exaggerated mug. There are more laughs and page-turning cliffhangers than most comics (or dinosaurs) of larger size. Tanaka has said about the series: “What I set out to do with Gon was to draw something that was more interesting than anything you could say in words. Manga [Japanese comics] still has great potential that does not exist in other media. I plan to continue developing the art of expression.”

3. Owly, Andy Runton

Owly, the unassuming but friendly star of his own series, has been doing something right. The series has won Harvey, Ignatz, and Eisner awards for creator Runton’s talent and as best series for young people. Owly’s optimism and love of meeting others comes across via adorable artwork and gentle tone.

4. Korgi, Christian Slade

The corgis of Korgi Hollow live in coexistence with fairies, or “Mollies.” A young Mollie named Ivy explores the world around her village with her Korgi cub Sprout, stumbling upon creatures both friendly and dangerous, as well as the secret history of Korgi Hollow. This series is for anyone with a sense of adventure who would not mind moving to a city populated by large corgis.

5. I’m Not A Plastic Bag, Rachel Hope Allison

Where does garbage go? What happens when everyday items meet each other in the ocean and form a large, floating mass? Here, a small island of garbage comes to life, greeting different life firms it comes across, sometimes smothering creatures without realizing it. Allison’s colorful artwork makes for a clear, breezy read that can go by in minutes. The book also contains further information about environmental responsibility. As Jeff Corwin notes in his foreword for this book, "the world we inhabit today is not inherited from our ancestors, but borrowed from our children."


The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Amazon Says: A truly remarkable work of art that is already one of the most talked-about book of the season. "A shockingly imaginative graphic novel that captures the sense of adventure a more...
Amazon Says: A truly remarkable work of art that is already one of the most talked-about book of the season. "A shockingly imaginative graphic novel that captures the sense of adventure and wonder that surrounds a new arrival on the shores of a shining new city. Wordless, but with perfect narrative flow, Tan gives us a story filled with cityscapes worthy of Winsor McCay." -- Jeff Smith, author of Bone "A magical river of strangers and their stories!" -- Craig Thompson, author of Blankets "Magnificent." -- David Small, Caldecott Medalist less...
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GON 1 by Masashi Tanaka
Amazon Says: All the dinosaurs have gone extinct... except for Gon. Follow the adventures of this scrappy dinosaur as he encounters all kinds of creatures in the Tertiary period, and shows more...
Amazon Says: All the dinosaurs have gone extinct... except for Gon. Follow the adventures of this scrappy dinosaur as he encounters all kinds of creatures in the Tertiary period, and shows them anything they can do, Gon can do better. Without using any words, Masashi Tanaka tells the story of Gon, letting his beautifully detailed art do the talking. less...
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Amazon Says: Owly is a kind, yet lonely, little owl who's always on the lookout for new friends and adventure. The first graphic novel in the series contains two enchanting novellas, "The more...
Amazon Says: Owly is a kind, yet lonely, little owl who's always on the lookout for new friends and adventure. The first graphic novel in the series contains two enchanting novellas, "The Way Home" & "The Bittersweet Summer," wherein Owly discovers the meaning of friendship, and that saying goodbye doesn't always mean forever. less...
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Korgi, Vol. 1 by Christian Slade
Amazon Says: Christian Slade, a former Disney animator and currently full-time freelance illustrator, has brought to Top Shelf a gorgeously illustrated woodland fantasy about a young girl more...
Amazon Says: Christian Slade, a former Disney animator and currently full-time freelance illustrator, has brought to Top Shelf a gorgeously illustrated woodland fantasy about a young girl named Ivy, her dog Sprout and their amazing adventures in Korgi Hollow. This amazing combination of adventure and fantasy will appeal to anyone who loves Andy Runton's Owly and Jeff Smith's Bone. Get ready for the launch of something very daring and very new! less...
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I'm Not a Plastic Bag by Rachel Hope Allison
Amazon Says: Foreward by Jeff Corwin Based on the real-life occurrence of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of floating trash in a remote area of the Northern Pacific Ocean more t more...
Amazon Says: Foreward by Jeff Corwin Based on the real-life occurrence of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of floating trash in a remote area of the Northern Pacific Ocean more than twice the size of Texas, I'm Not a Plastic Bag tells a moving story about loneliness, beauty, and humankind's connection to our planet. Produced in conjunction with American Forests and the Global ReLeaf programs, Archaia will plant two trees for each tree used in the manufacturing of this book. Presented in partnership with JeffCorwinConnect, a global, ecological, educational and entertainment multimedia company launched by Jeff Corwin, the popular wildlife expert and nature conservationist. less...
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