Not graphic and not novel

Literary prizes have no business with comics

1 December 2012

9:00 AM

1 December 2012

9:00 AM

As someone who once spent a whole summer refusing to leave the house in anything except his Superman costume (to be fair, I was only 23 at the time), I was tickled to death by the announcement last week of a Costa Book Awards shortlist that included not one but two ‘graphic novels’, and the subsequent declaration by the chairman of next year’s Man Booker judges that he would be open to the idea of such things being submitted for that as well.

Oh dear Lord above, the laughable, lumbering, creaky old juggernaut that is the British literary establishment. What, now you decide to accept comics as a literary form? Seventy years after they were last truly popular? Forty years since they were the genuine expression of the tortured poetic underground? Twenty-one years since the greatest work of art by any human hand was published, and just happened to be a comic?

You idiots. You miserable, slavish, pompous old greyhairs.

For a start, they are called comics. They do not need po-faced euphemism. Nobody calls them ‘graphic novels’ any more. Nobody except teenage boys trying to slip hentai manga past school security. In America, which is the home of the genre, they are called more often ‘comic books’, spoken as if all one word, and with an East Coast accent (since that is whence they come), so: ‘-karmicbwurks’.


To call them graphic novels is to presume that the novel is in some way ‘higher’ than the karmicbwurk, and that only by being thought of as a sort of novel can it be understood as an art form. As if Art Spiegelman’s two-volume envisioning of the Nazi Holocaust as an attempted elimination of mice by cats (the aforementioned ‘greatest work of art by any human hand’) can be dignified in some way by inclusion among things made by Dawn French, Jeffrey Archer and Alan Titchmarsh.

‘Graphic’ has nothing to do with it. It’s the wrong word. When I told my wife they were going to let graphic novels into the Booker prize, she said (genuinely), ‘What, like Fifty Shades of Grey?’

I read nothing but karmicbwurks until I was 14. My father was distraught until he came round to the idea that my reading anything was better than my reading nothing. But then I grew up, and did not really need them any more. I continued to read the truly excellent comics, like the ones that have been cited this week as ‘worthy of comparison’ with actual books, such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Violent Cases and The Dark Knight Returns, but these are indeed ‘only’ comics and while much ‘better’, more subtle and thought-provoking than, say, J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (but then so is any random issue of The Amazing Spider-Man), should not be thought of in the same breath as literature, nor would want to be.

They are their own thing. They do not need your imprimatur, O pompous reader of literary fiction. They are basically for -children, and for men (yes, men, really, men) who are a bit too thick to read proper books, as I was for many years, and still sometimes am, like if I’m tired or hungover or on a plane.

They are a genre of their own. And genre fiction — which is not a description of quality but of nature — usually doesn’t wash with prizes. We’ve rolled over on historical fiction because Britain doesn’t really produce anything else. But romance, crime, horror, they don’t cut it. Ian Rankin is ten times the writer Arundhati Roy or Ben Okri ever were, but we wouldn’t give him the Booker prize. We’re just too pompous, too old, too queeny.

So stop waving your comics around and pretending to be hip, you judges, and give your prizes to another tedious slog through the life of some long-dead English king.

Giles Coren is a writer for the Times.

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Show comments
  • http://www.facebook.com/getb3nt Joe Marsh

    Giles, I don’t understand this article. “Comics” is not a genre, it’s a medium, and to speak for all writers of comics and say that they don’t want to win literary prizes is insane. Is “film” a genre?

    You also seem to be implying a) that comics have had their day and b) that they are exclusively American. Neither of those ideas is true.

  • Everyone, Ever

    Does the “Giles Coren talking bullshit about things he doesn’t understand” dance again

  • Chris

    This has to be one of the most ignorantly written articles I’ve ever read. Comic books are for men who are too thick to read real books? Are you serious?

    Just to start, women read comics too.

    I’m no american. But I am a man who reads comics because I am a graphic artist and sign producer. I find the “non-graphics” inspirational and that they help me in my big boy job. Look at artists who can be considered their generations masters: Todd McFarlane. Grag Capullo. Jim Lee. Joe Prado. Jack Kirby. Steve Ditko. These guys aren’t some twat who throws paint at a canvas and calls it expressive art.

    Calling yourself pompous is probably the only “real” thing you said in this article. If you can get past the 70’s and think like the modern man you seem to think you are, perhaps you’ll open your mind enough to see the true value of the comic book to our culture and society.

    I get you are taking a poke at “The British Literary Establishment”… but you are cutting the legs out from underneath you by being so ignorantly offensive to others around it to make your point.

    What a terrible article.

  • Adam Cadwell

    “They are basically for -children, and for men (yes, men, really, men) who are a bit too thick to read proper books” Wrong and insulting.

    “They are a genre of their own.” Wrong again.

    • The Fucking Bastard

      Man, you really missed the point.

      • A.J.Smith

        To clog up bandwith with trolly drivel? A point worth missing!

  • Baresark_Artist

    You clearly haven’t a clue what you are talking about.
    Also, EVERYONE refers to them as graphic novels! I worked in a comic shop for four years and if you didn’t refer to them as “graphic novels” then it was “graphs” for short.

    The main reason that people differentiate between the two (Being comic books and graphic novels) is that comics are generally thought of as singular issues where as GN’s are a collection of comic books which normally include a full/complete story arc.

    As for saying they are for people who aren’t smart enough to read real books, what planet are you on? I read both books and graphs and don’t find that doing one means you can’t do the other.

    Have you not been to a comic convention lately either to see that comics aren’t specifically child or adult male orientated? There are an equal share of female adult readers too and quite frankly your views are somewhat archaic and uninformed.

    You sir, are an idiot.

  • http://twitter.com/davidbishop davidbishop

    Leaving aside the opinions expressed in the piece above, let’s correct one fundamental error: comics are not a genre.

    They are a medium, a narrative form within which you can tell stories of almost any genre.

  • L Hon Rhubarbs

    I heard a lady once read a comics book and her womb went on fire. Just saying, be careful out there.

    • The Fucking Bastard

      Women are also men, you idiot.

  • markstickley

    Comics are comics but there is nothing wrong with referring to some comics as graphic novels probably because the term ‘comics’ implies something funny, amusing or, well, comical. Not all sequential art is funny, and if it tells a story then why not call it a graphic novel? It’s descriptive.

    That’s just one of the many things wrong with this article. Other commenters have done a good job in pointing out others but the main issue for me is that the author seems rather conflicted about comics, simultaneously condemning them to be infantile, inebriated drivel and exalting them to the highest creative output of man. Which is it to be? Should they or shouldn’t they be judged, considered and contemplated in the same way that we do so to books, music and art?

    I think it comes down to the fact that like any creative medium the barrier to entry is relatively low while to achieve true greatness in the medium you must be incredibly skilled and work very hard. There will be awful comics and there will be brilliant comics. Why shouldn’t the good ones stand side by side with their printed brethren and be given awards? They are just as worthy and such awards might bring them the mainstream attention they deserve.

  • Marco

    Just to add to the queue of comments below: the term graphic novel might have stemmed from the need to claim their literary dignity, but it is mostly used to express a distinction between different forms of publication that apply to comics. And I won’t repeat all the corrections made below only to avoid redundancy.

    It would be nice if someone who claims to be a journalist had at least the decency to read something on what he’s talking about. This is really poor journalism.

  • Paula Knight

    ‘Medium’ not ‘genre’. Well, Giles, it’s easy for you to suggest that comics don’t need Costa – from your ivory tower. I don’t suppose you’ve ever tried to write a graphic novel (gasp – I said it) while also holding down a job/paying the mortgage/rent/ feeding hungry mouths etc? Publishing advances for GNs are notoriously spartan. Perhaps the further recognition from Costa will lead to more readers, more sales, and eventually adequate remuneration for those who put long long hours into their labour-intensive creation. I think you’d be hard-pushed to find any comics creator complaining about being shortlisted for such an award after years of hard work. I’m quite alarmed by this article.

  • Paula Knight

    Oh – BTW I’m a 40-something female who reads comics – is that OK with you?

  • http://twitter.com/Rob_guillory Rob Guillory

    I draw comics professionally. For adults. And this is an astoundingly arrogant and ignorant article.

    I’ll walk you through this, since you clearly don’t get it.

    See, every creative medium (film, literature, fine art and even lowly comics) begins with an idea. Now, some folks can express said idea with words alone. These are called Authors. Others can express these ideas with pictures. These are Illustrators, Painters, Sculptors, etc. Other folks choose to combine both worlds, and these are your Filmmakers and yes, us Lowly Comicbook Artists.

    Now, for you to look down your nose at an entire medium just because you can’t wrap your brain around the fact that valid stories can be told using (GASP!) pictures is a little small-minded. Just a little.

    Your logic basically boils down to:

    “Story – Pictures = VALID” and “Story + Pictures = IGNORANT MAN-CHILD DRIVEL.”

    And just FYI, the term “Graphic Novel” was coined by comics legend Will Eisner. Because the folks that he depended on to earn his living were too small-minded and high-brow to dare stoop to publishing something as childish as “Comics”.

    • Akco

      Exactly right. I would have to recomend Giles Coren two bits of advice. The first is read the graphic non fiction “understanding comics” by Scott Mccloud. The second is just be wary when posting articles about Comic book culture online unless you are clued in on its universe, which you evidently are not.
      Also, to whom this comment is a reply, thanks Rob Gillory for Chew, I am enjoying it thoroughly.

    • Fraser Chapman

      Wow, did you actually read the article? If so, did you understand it? I fear not. Giles isn’t looking down his nose at karmicbwurks he is pointing out the short comings of the British literary establishment. Your reply is the most ignorant thing on this page, you are angry about something that isn’t even implied. He even states that Maus is the greatest work of art by any human hand for crying out loud! It is a defence karmicbwurks, not an attack. Please reread the article and then go an cringe in the corner at the level of your stupidity.

    • Jack Freeman

      I’ve only the one upvote to give.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jon-Lock/223801022 Jon Lock

    I know I shouldn’t rise to this… I know peddling a mild bit of controversy is simply a good way of boosting your hit count…

    But please, as someone who spends every waking minute outside his day job writing and producing what has been called both a “comic” and a “graphic novel”, do not call my demographic “thick”. And while you’re at it, please consider the fact that both men AND women can appreciate comic books, karmicbwurks, graphic novels or whatever.

    Throughout the year I have the honour of attending several conventions around the UK where hundreds of hard-working, passionate, creative individuals exhibit their books at great personal cost: time, effort, money etc. It’s a labour of love, and to see such enthusiasm, colour and creativity on display far from the beaten track of conventional literature is inspiring. You sell them all short – be they men, women, elderly or young – by calling them “thick”.

    • Matthew

      I know you think this comment will get you laid by some angry fangirl but I’m pretty sure that strategy went out of date along with old “Love Boat” pick up lines. Nice try, though.

  • Freebirdswing

    Congratulations there Giles , fairly surfing the cusp of the zeitgiest with this one

  • Alan C Smith

    Oh dear, Giles. You were trying to help but now you seem to have pissed everyone off. You do seem to like comics (despite not knowing anything about what’s happened to them in the last 20 years) but you seem conflicted. Why shouldn’t Dotter of Her Fathers’ Eyes be Costa nominated? A lot of huge generalisations passed off as journalism. I know you’re paid to be opinionated and we’re not supposed to take it too seriously, but I’m afraid it you who comes off as insular and out of touch. ‘Must do better’.

  • GrahamB

    ” In America, which is the home of the genre….. Watchmen, V for Vendetta,Violent Cases…”

    I think Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman might want a word with you.

    • The Fucking Bastard

      Neil Gaiman once said: “It’s only comic books”.

      • A J Smith

        If only he’d said “I’m really an American in disguise” that would’ve been a snappy and relevant response.

  • Brent Schoonover

    Fuck you.

    • The Fucking Bastard

      Thick man alert! Thick man alert! Thick man alert! Thick man alert! Thick man alert! Thick man alert! Thick man alert!

  • http://www.split-screen.net/ Alan Williamson

    The usual breathtaking ignorance from a contrarian hack.

  • thrucque

    ‘Professor Gideon Garter’ (Giles Coren pseudonym), esteemed winner of the ‘Bad Sex in Fiction Award’, your written contribution regarding a medium you lack any qualification in, no matter how deplorable, is duly noted!

  • http://twitter.com/LeeEdwardMc Lee Edward McIlmoyle

    *sigh* The dripping sarcasm hasn’t escaped me here, so I won’t ignore the obvious ironic stance, but I’m not sure the tone of this article, let alone its assertions, are helping much. ‘Nobody calls them graphic novels any more’ is a presumption based on what, exactly? I call them graphic novels, and I think you’ll find that just about everyone actually working in the comics industry still does, as well. Hipster elitism and a slowly-dawning revolution in literary thinking isn’t going to change that one way or the other.

  • Vicky Stonebridge

    this is all good and well, but how can the rest of us get use of the time machine? i’d love to see the distant past too, just briefly of course, before returning to the world of books, graphic novels, the compyooter and penicillin.

  • Dionysia

    Giles Coren he trollin’. I’m walkin’.

  • tom fowler

    Dear mr. Cohen,

    My name is Tom Fowler. I’ve worked mainly in comics for the last 15 years, for almost every american publisher, across several different genres. While i’m not entirely sure what the point you’re trying to make is, if I may, I’d like to point a few inaccuracies in you article.

    Firstly, and most importantly, comics are not a genre, as you put it, but a medium. It’s very possible that, like many others, you’ve confused the genre of superheroes with the wider medium of comics. It’s pretty common among columnist who want to make a point with only their childhood reading habits to guide them. Don’t feel bad, everyone does it.

    Secondly, while it’s fun to write about armies of nerds howling about calling them “graphic novels”, no one really cares. The term was cooked up describe comics of a longer length that followed a more conventional beginning, middle and end format. They’re all still comics.

    Now as i mentioned earlier, I’m not one hundred percent certain what the point you’re trying to make is (in this I’m as guilty as you are, as I have read articles for much of my life and thus feel I am an expert voice in matters pertaining to whether or not they should be understood), but in future if you wish to continue writing on the subject, it may help you to read this excellently written essay by Dylan Meconis entitled: “How To Write Comics Criticism”.



    Tom Fowler

    • http://twitter.com/Louiestowell Louie Stowell

      I’ll second Tom’s recommendation. Read the Meconis piece – that goes out to all journalists writing about comics.

    • Fraser Chapman

      “While i’m not entirely sure what the point you’re trying to make is”

      That about sums it up perfectly, you don’t even understand the piece. Maybe if it was all draw out for you in little pictures with only a few words per page it would help?

      I’m not going to explain things like satire to you, it would be tedious and based on the present evidence, pointless.

      Anyhow, if I may point out a couple of your mistakes.

      Firstly, and most importantly, comic books are a genre. A genre is a classification system, with the three classical genres being poetry, drama, and prose. There are further sub divisions of these such as comedy, tragedy and epic. What you have done is mistake subject matter, to use you example of ‘superheros’, for genre.

      Comicbooks are a genre (prose largely), print would be the medium, and superheros (or what have you) the subject matter.

      Secondly, the blog posts you refer to, it isn’t an essay, is titled “How NOT to Write Comics criticism.” (sic) – but hey five words out of six isn’t bad…oh wait, no it is shit.

      Please close the door on your way out Tom.

      • Jasmine Rockwell

        Actually Fraser, YOU’RE wrong about genres, mediums, and classifications. Prose and poetry are mediums, not genres. Classification has to do with way in which a story is told: historical fiction, mystery, romance, fantasy, etc. The FORMAT is about the physical layout and art design of the book: picture book, paperback, hardback, ebook, graphic novel, comic book, etc. And take a look at how Merriam Webster defines graphic novel, “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.”

  • http://twitter.com/ed_fortune Edward Fortune

    Gile Coren: Please pop into GOSH Comics, and have a browse. You should have done this before you wrote this, of course, but that would have required actually doing some research, rather than just pulling some words out of your bottom.

  • Woman with half a brain

    Woot. I thought I’d seen sexism and ignorance unabated when reading your Skyfall review but this exceeds that. Well done.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeMulv Joe Mulvey

    It amazes me that with the absolute glut of nonsense the internet is able to deliver that this gem rises to the top. I can only imagine this article is written with the intent to incite and ramp up hits for the site. Which I understand. However your completely dismissive, uninformed and judgmental view on comics, I do not.

    Everyone has the right to their opinion, I just prefer the opinions be educated rather than overly editorialized for the sake of arrogance. It’s easy to curse you, but rather than that I’ll give you suggestions on how to be a better, more informed writer.


    I do an online series of articles called What do you REALLY know about comics? The intent is to introduce people to what comics really are. A diverse medium filled with innovative and creative ideas told through illustration by some of the worlds greatest artists.

    Here’s a quick list in the hopes to expand your narrow viewpoint of the comic book medium.

    SAGA from Image Comics


    CHEW from Image


    SCALPED from Vertigo

    LOCKE and KEY from IDW

    100 BULLETS from Vertigo

    ECHOES from Top Cow

    MORNING GLORIES from Image

    Comic Books are delivering some of the most innovative stories in the world today. So go give some of these books a chance

    These are just a few examples of the great product the comics medium is able to deliver. If you would like to continue discussing this please respond here or feel free to e-mail me at JoeMulveyInc@me.com I’d be happy to point towards more comics that can help you appreciate the medium of comics better.

    Think of it this way, you wouldn’t turn on a TV, see a cartoon on then shut it off and say that TV was just for kids. Comics are the same way. Different programing for different people. Yu just have to change the channel and find whatever interests you.

    Give some of those books a try, and write an article that has some intergrity and education behind it. As a comic book reader, writer and artist this article did bother me, but it’s not an uncommon viewpoint. The idea is to show why that antiquated viewpoint is wrong. So give some of those books a try and than write about it.

    -Joe Mulvey

  • http://twitter.com/Al_Ewing Al Ewing

    I hear films are for children, and for men who are a bit too thick to go to the theatre.

    Go away, Giles Coren. You can call comic readers ‘thick’ all you want, in your snide and sexist way, but at least they don’t think that being so painfully thick as to not know the difference between a genre and a medium is the cleverest thing to be, which you clearly do.

    Grow up, for God’s sake, you’re forty-three.

  • Jim Zub

    There’s two options here:

    Either you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to comics/graphic novels and you have no place writing an article about them until you get up to speed or you’re being “witty” and sarcastic for reasons I can’t really imagine.

    Unfortunately, both routes fall miserably flat. All you’ve managed to do is confuse readers who don’t know anything about comics and piss off those who do.

    Poorly planned, poorly written and depressingly off target.

  • James

    Medium not a Genre

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.macpherson.5 Bobby MacPherson

    I agree with you that comics are their own distinct medium and not some subordinate offshoot of the novel form but that’s clearly where we part ways.

    I think it’s pretty disturbing that you’re attempting to encourage the stultification of what is considered prize worthy narrative art because you’re frightened of change.

    Also, not to brutally beat a dead horse but your comments regarding comics as being an intellectually inferior art form are crass and spectacularly reductive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenttayler.cartoons Kent Tayler

    I don’t know what annoyed me more – the crap spouted in this lazy article or that Batman is wearing green gloves, ffs…

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.forrest Ryan Forrest

    Another stunning example that the Internet gives a far too loud voice to even the weakest of the species

  • Jed Alexander

    Slow down, take a deep breath and look at this article with less of a chip on your shoulder.

    I’m pretty certain this is satire, a jab at the pompousness of literary prizes in general, a jab at the way comics have been accepted over the years by critics, and how literary critics generally tend not to be very savvy about the medium. One jab at this is how he presents Maus, how Maus was singularly heralded as literature by critics in the 80s when comparable if not better works were being produced at the same time.

    He points out the handful of comics that are essentially mainstream genre comics mentioned by the mainstream press as “worthy,” intended to demonstrate their larger ignorance of the medium as touted by the insiders who tend to be critical of the whole “graphic novel” phenomenon, and the US centric nature of this group, who tend to focus primarily on American comics.

    Then he takes a jab at the pretensions of this small press critical establishment in the US, the rejection of the term “graphic novel” by many of them–myself included–as a desperate and unnecessary grab at legitimacy, a way to present the medium to the mainstream as not comics, which, it basically is, something all of us who are into comics have had to embrace whether reluctantly or otherwise since it’s here to stay.

    He further takes a jab at comics as it is often mistaken for a “genre” and by the context, clearly understands the difference, even though it might sound like he doesn’t.

    The absurd pronunciation of the word “comics” as “karmcbwerks” is a bit mean spirited, a jab at the New York comics critical establishment that lionizes Spiegelman, something it sounds like the author resents. It’s an exaggerated satirical take on the prejudice, very much on the borderline of the real thing, but I don’t believe its intended as such.

    His references to the history of comics as touted as a legitimate medium from their inception is also a crack at this group, and the whole I dressed as Superman and read nothing but comics as a kid thing is a satire on the sometimes over vehement expressions of enthusiasm for the medium and insiderness of this same group.

    Basically it’s a series of very inside jokes that someone only with a very very intimate knowledge of comics would get, but I can see how someone who was just as familiar with comics might immediately misunderstand and react negatively. Essentially I think the guy has missed his audience by a broad margin here. It’s something you might see in a English comics fanzine and it’s very odd to see it in the Spectator. But believe it or not, he’s not actually a prick, he just sounds like one, though this too is an arguable point.

    The whole thing seems to be written out of anger and with a complete lack of regard for how it will inevitably be received, which to me demonstrates a certain, precious embrace of the author’s own feeling of outsiderness, the infantile romance of being misunderstood, or maybe just an impressive bout of trolling.

    So unless you believe these prizes are sacred, and that the whole screwed up history of the way mainstream academics have attempted to contextualize the whole mess out of half ignorance and the one-sided battle between mainstream critics and the small press comics critical establishment in the US (a conflict that academia also largely remains ignorant of), then I wouldn’t waste your time defending comics, but criticizing these opinions as presented, in an elaborate tongue and cheek way by the author.

    • A.J.Smith

      Overcomprehend much?An admirable try, but I’d say you spent more time on each of those points than Coren spent on his entire article. Sometimes a poorly written article about comics is just a poorly written article about comics, whether it’s intended to be satire or not.

      • Jed Alexander

        I didn’t say it was particularly good satire, I was just trying to suss out his intentions. My point was more to address the reactions of folks who took it a bit too literally, not to defend his article. Also, it was a nice excuse to express some of my own feelings about the current state of the field.

        • A.J.Smith

          Thanks for your reply Jed, appreciated. I still think you gave the article far too much respect and precious time by analysing it so in depth. I really believe that there’s nothing more to it than the dated and irrelevant surface satire on display. Coren’s responses on twitter bear this out.

      • Matthew

        Well, since you clearly were not “comprehending” the point of Coren’s article then I guess he spent just the right amount of characters explaining it to you. But I guess sometimes a poorly written response to a comment on an article is just a poorly written response to a comment on an article.

        • A.J.Smith

          I understood Corn’s weak dated and irrelevant attempt at satire perfectly. Problem is, he doesn’t understand the real reasons why people are annoyed. Not sure why that’s so hard for people to get.

          Admirably meta of you to describe and criticise your own comment within it’s second sentence though.

  • Jed Alexander

    I also concede that I might be giving him too much credit.

  • Wesley Riot

    ” Nobody calls them ‘graphic novels’ any more.”
    This line alone demonstrates your ignorance of comics and invalidates any points your try to make.

  • http://twitter.com/leeannlui Leeann Hamilton

    Giles Coren: wasting webspace on the Spectator’s servers to be a troll in the limelight.

  • Jed Alexander

    A reiteration of my comments here for those who missed them: http://jedalexander.blogspot.com/2012/11/slow-down-take-deep-breath-and-calm.html

  • Ben Dodds

    What an idiot, the columnist here clearly didn’t do any research. I would argue some of the works Scott Snyder has done (yes he rights Batman – The Shame!) would rival King in the horror stakes. artwork says more in a panel then sometimes a book says in a page.
    I read books, i read comics and I enjoy reading both they both bring something to the table for me.
    And it should be pointed out if it gets people reading it can only be a good thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steffworthington Steffon Worthington

    Are you being serious? By nitpicking over format rather than content you are disproving your own argument with elitism.

  • Molly Maloo

    Don’t see the problem…..Giles clearly likes comics / graphs / graphic novels or whatever you want to call them. He just doesn’t see why the Booker prize people would want to include them on the long list (or short list) (other than to appear hip) and why the authors and or readers of comics / graphs / graphic novels or whatever you want to call them would want to be included in the shortlist for that and similar prizes. Presumably there are comics / graphs / graphic novels or whatever you want to call them prizes already?

  • Leo Johnson

    You say comics are for children and men too stupid to read books, but I read books before I ever read comics. As a child in elementary school, I was always the winner of whatever reading program they had during the year. In high school, I accumulated enough credits to count as two years of university, and was then given a full scholarship. But, I’m too dense to read a “proper book”?

    Comics are an art form all their own. They can do things that a simple book can’t. The people who make comics are some of the most inventive and creative people I’ve seen. As someone who’s read Dickens, Melville, Tolkien, Kafka, and more, but also read Moore, Snyder, Zub, Layman, Aaron, Lee, and more, I don’t see how anyone can call comics something that only children and stupid adults read. It was as an adult, that I loved comics even more. If that makes me “thick”, then so be it.

  • http://twitter.com/benrankel Ben Rankel

    If this is satire it is poorly executed.

  • Servalan.

    Twat. How’s that for criticism.

  • dcwomenkickingass

    Giles, I’m confused. I’m not a man and I like Graphic Novels like Habibi, Fun Home, Drama and collections of monthlies like Saga and Batwoman but you think I and what I read doesn’t exist. Your point, I think, is in there somewhere but you might to play spin a round on Google before you say something like “Nobody calls them ‘graphic novels’ any more” because the New York Times has a Graphic Novel best sellers list.

    • Matthew

      Yes, sue, you are confused. The fact that the New York Times calls them graphic novels is the entire point of the article. The pretentious elites do not define terms for the comics culture. If you think they do, then you don’t know anything about the comics culture (which confirms my suspicisions)
      Also, in usual “I only want to hear what I want” sue fashion, the writer didn’t say you didn’t exist. Comics are made ALMOST exclusively for the dominant demographic that purchases them and yes, sue, that is still predominantly males. That is objective truth. The numbers prove it and you know it it’s true. Unlike what you preach over at the echo chamber of tumblr which is women make up half the population so obviously the natural conclusion (in your mind at least) is that ALL WOMEN BUY COMICS.
      Now go back to the echo chamber that is tumblr and continue to be irrelevant. I’m sure someone, somewhere has made a three year old joke about turning lesbians. So you better hurry and try in vain to get them fired.

      • A.J.Smith

        What Coren and yourself don’t realise is that there is no “pretentious elite”: that’s just a tired old strawman to pit toothless dated articles like Coren’s against. There is however an exponentially growing supply and demand of and for graphic novels for adults that Coren has no conception of. The fact that Coren makes no (even passing) reference to the books nominated but instead relies of creaky references to 25+ years old books like Watchmen proves he has no clue what he’s talking about. It’s like a man bringing up Showaddywaddy in a discussion of UK Grime.

        • Matthew

          Right. Because Watchmen is completely irrelevant. Oh…wait, what is that heavily promoted event with all the top writers and artists going on at DC this very moment? “Before”….something? Yeah. So I guess you win the “I dont’ know what the hell I’m talking about award”. Congrats.

          Anyone who calls a collection of old Avengers stories compiled in a trade a ::hushed reverence:: “Graphic Novel” is being a pretentious douche.

          As to your obscure, “sad hipster” reference to some Leicester has-beens, you pretty much just proved both my point as well as that of Coren. So thanks for that.

          • A.J.Smith

            Watchmen IS conpletely irrelevant these days. The “Before” series is franchise-extending product that has largely brought misery to it’s target audience. About as relevant and meaningful to todays comics scene as a tub of Utterly Butterly.

            Leicester has-beens? No ides what you’re talking about and it’s nothing I mentioned. Looks like a reference to something personal to you shoehorned in and confusing your point. Coren’s point itself can never be proven as it makes no sense.

            “Hipster”? pffft… it’s far far too late to be using small and silly words like that. From my Glasgow vantage point all I see is a WORLD OF TRANSCENDENT COMIC WONDER that makes Watchmen look like an invisible microdot on an invisible microdot in the vista of THE HOLY POTENTIAL OF COMICS. It’s growing all the time and will expand and expand taking all consciousness with it . Coren will understand in time, even if just through osmosis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Drakerivera Mario Rivera

    Your ignorance to a profound medium is vastly moronic and small minded.

  • FireballXTC

    This was fun, let’s do it again.

  • http://www.cmcawley.co.uk Christian Cawley

    The thing about Giles is that beneath the affable exterior hides an angry man.

    You see, while his sister inherited their mother’s looks and their father’s wit…

  • http://twitter.com/Destraudo James Gammell

    Wow. I love how it is written in an authoritarian, almost hipster meme manner while at the same time showing through the body of the text that the author is completely out of touch with the subject matter in every measurable way.


  • Steev TH

    What an arrogant and astonishingly thicko twat you are, Mr Coren. I suggest you sod off.

  • James Southard

    Mr Coren.

    Whilst I do occasionally find your articles a vaguely humorous way of passing five minutes when I have nothing better to do, I cannot help but notice that your articles sometimes read like they were written by a man (yes, a man) who is a bit too thick to do any proper research or indeed accept that intelligent adults could possibly be entertained by a combination of story and artwork.

    And my six bookshelves filled with “proper” books that sit quite comfortably next to beautiful, oversized hardback editions of said “graphic novels” would beg to differ with your statement.

  • Ricardo Venâncio

    People, stop giving this article any more attention than it deserves, which is none. The purpose of this text is purely to wind up the people who make up the comic book/graphic novel/sequential art audience with derogatory remarks set to make you rant against it, and in doing so, help spread this “pseudo insight” all over the internet through no genuine merit of its author’s opinion.

    Leave it be, this is nonsense disguised as proper writing.

  • http://twitter.com/TheMeanerGeek adrian hunter

    wow, it took 3 whole comments before someone started sucking scott mccloud’s dick.

  • http://twitter.com/kelwinser Kel Winser

    While I appreciate your traditional viewpoint and commitment to calling any work in a medium that tells stories with sequential visual narrative a ‘comic’, I think firstly Mr. Coren, let’s define the term ‘Graphic Novel’. A story which is communicated graphically, defined as using images or drawings (not in the context of sexually or violently explicit) AND novel, defined as a bit longer than a short story (short story being shorter than a novel, a comic would be a good description of something shorter than a Graphic Novel).

    Secondly, I would like to challenge you on your knowledge of the Graphic Novel. Have you read any of the following Contract With God by Will Eisner, Any Empire by Nate Powell, Blankets by Craig Thompson, Soulwind by Scott Morse, Sloth by Gilbert Hernandez, Black Hole by Charles Burns, Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, Ghost World or David Boring by Daniel Clowes? I could go on with multiple titles by many other writer/artists. My point is the MEDIUM of the Graphic Novel reaches far beyond the GENRE of superheroes and sci-fi fantasy. Go and read something else and get back to us then.

    You tend to get film and TV put together, why not Novels and Graphic Novels?!?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597967922 Monique Pihl

    Wow, you come across as an incredibly pompous ass throughout this whole article. Sounds like you, yourself are a ‘miserable, slavish, pompous old greyhairs’.

    I love comic/graphic novel/manga/bandes dessinées and believe there are continually new and exciting works of fiction and nonfiction throughout the industry. I have so much respect for artist and writers everywhere!

    Maybe you should get out of your narrow-minded way of thinking. Its pathetic.

  • Will

    This article blows. ‘Nuff said.

  • JJC

    I thought the article was sort of a hurrah for comics, that comics have always been worth reading and that only now after 70 years (due to mainstream popularity) costa have gotten on the bandwagon (where traditionally literary ‘competitions’ have snubbed the graphic novel and embraced the usual fare e.g ‘tedious slog through the life of some long dead English king’. I interpreted the writer took offense to the term “graphic novel” to some degree because it’s a term used to make them seem more ‘acceptible’

  • meefyt

    Wow look at all these comic book readers with their panties (and undies) in a bunch. Seriously? I read Maus. It was okay. Also read me some Chris Ware. Fucking horrible. oo I liked Asterios Polyp though. But I have yet to find the comic book literary equivalent to Moby Dick… because it ain’t gonna happen. And I’m okay with that and read comic books a ton. Okay, now disagree with me, nerds.

    • SuperGuy

      Suck my balls and go read some Batman, you fucking pansy.

  • http://twitter.com/bcranco Ben Cohen

    I wish I had gotten this to you sooner. You could have retracted this, before everyone got upset. Essentially all the points have been made; so sorry for driving the knife in more.

    I am upset, because this is the second time in a month, some post, on some site I never heard of goes out of its way to kick my art and my friends art in the teeth.

    First, I commend you on enjoying comics, once upon a time. As a bottom of the barrel Cartoonist (someone who makes comics) with a BFA and MFA in Sequential Art (another Will Eisner term designed to shield us bottom dwellers) I am always appreciative of fellow fans of comics.

    After all, this is not, video games, film, music, illustration, painting, installations, sculpture, theatre or literature. We don’t have the claim of Billions in profits or 100’s of Millions of fans…no we are comics fans. We count our numbers in a fraction, supporting 100’s of millions in revenue. We are David. However, we, just as the Jewish hero, outsize in our cultural influence. With our medium made by mostly Jews at first, but now all cultures, races and genders; comics.

    My guess is it is that which caused you to turn against your nostalgia. How can it be, the influence that comics have had on these Goliath industries of artistic communications. You see it as a erosion, no doubt. I see it so differently.

    You are correct about Eisner’s term, “Graphic Novel.” There is a great interview in an old Comics Journal (I suggest you read it to brush up on comics and critical writing). It touches on why this term simply not needed. I have come around to agreeing. There is nothing wrong with the term, but there are easier ways to own what we do and consume…Comics are fine (if still an inaccurate term). There is honor in it’s retention. Same goes for Cartoonist v. Sequential Artist. I love your ” karmicbwurks.” Your wife’s reaction is awesome.

    But than you run from this medium you try to cloth yourself in as a reader. You make statements that have been so obliterated long ago, most of us are here to simply point the finger at the village idiot. Yet, we can’t help but get raw…the wounds are not so healed after all.

    Gender and age have long been, continue to be a source of contention for Comics. The facts are, women and old people have always read comics in varied levels. Essentially the argent against this fact, has been over stated, even in the comics community. I can tell you, first hand. A: Women MAKE Comics. B: They READ Comics and C: The can be depicted RECOGNIZABLY in Comics. To the existent that any of us feminist are satisfied…well this article does nothing to help. Every generation alive today has had readers of Comics; again some more than others. These consumers do not all stop in their 20’s reading. Nor do they all start as children.

    Comics “are there own thing.” Sure, you can try and box them in if you want. But they are not A GENRE. This is seriously the dumbest thing you could say. Comics are not Superheroes exclusively. They are not Comedy exclusively. They are not anthropomorphic exclusively. They are not porn exclusively. They are not product placements advertisement exclusively. They are not about Sci-Fi, Adventure, Romance, Western, Mystery, Fantasy, War, Crime, History, Philosophy, Cooking, Politics, Thrillers, Horror, Historical Fiction, Travel Guide, Journalism, Cultural Studies and Poetry exclusively. Although they can be these and more. The fact that I need to tell you this is really depressing.

    I get the seance you support the archaic notion that comics are eroding society. Like a zombie this idea keeps eating away at comics small part in this world. Ironically, the medium had been around for some time, before some opportunistic power players began selling this bull, of Comics magical ability to dumb down and trash the fabric of society. As if words and pictures by their nature could (maybe if enough comics were printed that it tipped the Climate Change scale). Ink on a page has no power. Only through what it communicates with a visual and linguistic lexicon.

    It is the power of this combined lexicon that in the hands of masters (male or female) can it in my mind influence in a uniquely powerful way. All at once dictating intentions of the Cartoonist with graphic aesthetics, musical pacing, designed eye movement through page layout, visual cues and literary statements. While also allowing the reader autonomy in imagining what happens in the gutter (not that gutter…the space between panels). The reader can pause and review, slow or spread up their read at will. Always collecting a COMPLEX set of intimate thoughts from the cartoonist. Ones that are exclusively interpreted in the end by the individual with their own personal set of totems, thoughts, aesthetics and bias. It is superior to it’s more overly successful cousins in other mediums, for these reasons.

    It is no accident that comics are acquired and bleed for their intellectual content by Media Conglomerates. It is no mistake that the their influence in all other art, literature and storytelling is seen as a threat. The mighty comic dominates behind the scenes. By being better and influencing those who create in other mediums. Get over it. Embrace the pithy poetry, aesthetic graphic design, intently inducing brush strokes and the elixir of all you desire; karmicbwurks.

    We win the only way we know how. By being scrappy old world underdogs in other mediums competitions. Sneaking in, by flashing our words (if you want words) or pictures (if you like) or images in sequence (so be it) or our character designs or in hard bound, on walls, in magazine form, miniatures, artifacts or on the web…in an app on your phone. We don’t care…we have been in bigger scrapes and won. We are David!

  • Eddie

    I broadly agree with this.

    Comic books are not novels and have no business being categorised with novels. They are not novels. They are picture books.
    The name ‘graphic novel’ is a misnoma and a craving for acceptability and status: that please should be ignored. (Having said that I have no time for awful book prizes either – the Booker this year was a disgrace, and some historical novelist whose ideas and characters are pinched managed to get a mate to sway the judges in her favour. Almost Albanian, really, in its corrupt croneyism)

    They are still very popular in places l;ike France, Italy etc in a way they have never been here in the UK: you see adults reading such comic books on buses in countries like that. Maybe it dates back to the lack of reading skills of the ‘peasant class’ – in Italy in the 1940s half of people were illiterate and many more basic readers.

    This is an opinion article – so those who complain it’s opinionate and arrogant are sort of slow learners really. And lack a sense of humour.

    I would never ever waste my cash on these ‘graphic novels’. Awful pointless things.

    • http://www.facebook.com/wabalicious.monkeynuts Wabalicious Monkeynuts

      “Misnoma”? I think the word you’re grasping for is misnomer. Maybe you should read more of these “graphic novels” you look down on so much and improve your vocabulary. Comics are big in the UK, just not in your lofty social circles.

      • Eddie

        Only idiots with weak arguments focus on a poster’s typos.

        You clearly have NO idea what ‘vocabulary’ even is, do you?

        Now, if you’d criticised by orthography (that’s spelling to GCSE students like you, son) then I’d have pointed out that what I wrote was a typo error caused by my crappy typing and early morning start. (‘misnomer’ as a word comes from the Latin – which I am qualified in, thicko, so I would not have ever made such an error purposefully, thicko, because I know the word’s etymologyl!)

        Keep reading the picture books thicko. Try The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s VERY exciting! Some big words – but ask a grown-up eh? (of course do check they are not a paedophile first…or one of those sad men who read picture books into their 40s…)

    • http://twitter.com/bcranco Ben Cohen

      Most people who know anything about comics are A: not fixated on the cause of this piece; a lit award can choose to except a literary visual lexicon hybrid or not. We don’t care. But words are a component. B: The issue is the fact that he goes out of his way to misinform about comics (see my comment: Ben Cohen). He is failed in providing a credible argument to support his point.

  • The Fucking Bastard

    Of course we comic book readers read real books as well. We read Twilight, hunger games, Shadows of grey and ghostgirl…

  • http://www.facebook.com/alanthekaz Alan Kasim

    Well, that just left me feeling confused. To be honest, I’m really not sure if the writer of this piece is being serious, or if he was satirising how he thinks literary snobs look at comics. The admiration the writer shows for ‘Maus’ suggests that he was being satirical, for how can you praise one comic so highly but believe that the only adults who read such things are “thick”? The fact of the matter is though, that the vast majority of the replies to this come from people who believe that the writer was portraying his serious opinions. If it is satire (and I truly hope it is), then it was a pretty poor attempt to get his opinions across by a professional writer.

  • http://twitter.com/Dliessmgg ムッグ@読見たい☆!

    “Old farts suddenly like my favourite thing, clearly they misunderstand it!” – This is what you wrote in your article, which, I think, is a rather idiotic thing to say.

    But let me say that the people in the comments who claim you don’t like comics are even more idiotic.

  • A.J.Smith

    “karmicbwurks”? it doesn’t even work. Sounds like a collective term for Burt Kwouk’s spiritual cause and effect experiences.

  • Rudy

    What an ignorant and poorly researched article. Unless its a joke, in which case it didn’t come off.

  • Oyster

    I don’t subscribe to the idea that comics are “Basically for children, and for men”. As a recent example, I attended a talk by comic book writer Neil Gibson (Twisted Dark) at the Regent’s Street Apple store the other week. It packed out the theatre (and a vast number of those in the audience were female!).

  • Zyxtyr

    Sadly these days many people can only attract attention of they are ‘controversial’. Therefore they must be controversial for controversial sake. Like a politician who has lost any ability to reasons, he must improve his odds by polarising the vote bank.Underneath the article is probably a comic loving author who reads every graphic novel including Japanese hentai late in the night.

  • ADB

    Oh dear Lord, when are you all going to realise that most articles are written to generate a response – stir the pot – raise a few hackles and see what surfaces. Sometimes what does bubble up can be funny and also worthwhile. Job done Mr. Coren. I’m a huge fan of your ‘sarcastic/caustic/cynical way with words – and a bigger fan if they are all intended as gospel!

    • A.J.Smith

      Job failed here: Coren doesn’t even understand the real reasons people are annoyed. It’s true his terrible article has resulted in a lot of wise words being written on the subject in response, but Coren can’t understand them sadly.

  • http://twitter.com/tartan_tory Tartan Tory

    Someone writes a piece that praises high-end comic books and lambasts pretentious literary fiction awards, and dozens of comic geeks jump in off social media howling with outrage against the one line where he suggests, with tongue firmly in cheek, that the comic audience are “a bit too thick” to appreciate the ponderous psychological and political meaningfulness of Hilary Mantel’s narrative adaptation of G.R. Elton’s old research on Thomas Cromwell. That’s funny.

    Or was it just the slightest whiff of a hint of a suggestion from Mr. Coren that modern comics aspiring to be pretentious literary fiction don’t come close to the classics of the 1980s? Perhaps that’s what skewered you all into such a hideous rage?

    • A.J.Smith

      Looks like you haven’t read anything properly: the main thing that’s getting people annoyed is Coren calling comics a “genre”: just as fatuous a n assertion as writing an article defending dogs on the grounds that they’re reptiles. If Coren had done this in an obvious trolling move (like his “bit to thick” line) people wouldn’t be half as annoyed but it really seems like he believes it.

      There’s the strongest whiff of a hint of suggestion that Coren hasn’t read anything past the tired old 80s “grown up comics” warhorses like Watchmen (yawn) Maus (sorry fell asleep there).. not that these aren’t worthy works but it’s just as embarrassing and out of touch as someone writing an article on 2012 pop music and suggesting we check out “Sgt Peppers” and “Led Zeppelin 4” as they’re the latest thing in adutt orientated rock. “classics of the 80s”.. pffffft..

      You and Coren have no idea…. we’re in the midst of a graphic novel golden age just now and scores of comics that make Watchmen look like the young adult reader it is are produced every week, transcending and rewriting the form beyond anything Alan Moore ever conceived of. .. please, both of you look around you, dive in and enjoy the embarrassment of riches that surrounds! If you really do love comics Giles and TT, it’s masterpiece time every new release day just now. Let me take you both by the hand and lead you to a current comic store.. it’ll be like when The Wizard of Oz turns from colour to black and white, your eyes will be opened and your previous geeky obsessions with superheros will melt away as you discover, mind opened fully a whole new GENRE of amazing work. I’m waiting anytime Giles and TT.

      • A.J.Smith

        Black and white to colour I meant, durgh. (or maybe colour to black and white at the end when Dorothy returns enriched by her expeience!): anyway, this error does not invalidate the rest of my post.

      • A.J.Smith

        …and I wrote “Genre” at the end instead of “medium”, so obsessed was I by the misuse of the former word by Coren, I ended up committing the same mistake myself, somewhat more invalidating to the rest of my post.
        However all is not lost!
        To fix this mistake, I’ve supplied a special “copy and paste kit” for full comprehension of my post…. simply copy my post into a word document, delete the word “GENRE” and replace it with the following:


        Coren can feel free to repeat this process for anything he writes about comics in future. Good practice!

    • A.J.Smith

      Looks like you haven’t read anything properly: the main thing that’s getting people annoyed is Coren calling comics a “genre”: just as fatuous a n assertion as writing an article defending dogs on the grounds that they’re reptiles. If Coren had done this in an obvious trolling move (like his “bit to thick” line) people wouldn’t be half as annoyed but it really seems like he believes it.

      There’s the strongest whiff of a hint of suggestion that Coren hasn’t read anything past the tired old 80s “grown up comics” warhorses like Watchmen (yawn) Maus (sorry fell asleep there).. not that these aren’t worthy works but it’s just as embarrassing and out of touch as someone writing an article on 2012 pop music and suggesting we check out “Sgt Peppers” and “Led Zeppelin 4” as they’re the latest thing in adutt orientated rock. “classics of the 80s”.. pffffft..

      You and Coren have no idea…. we’re in the midst of a graphic novel golden age just now and scores of comics that make Watchmen look like the young adult reader it is are produced every week, transcending and rewriting the form beyond anything Alan Moore ever conceived of. .. please, both of you look around you, dive in and enjoy the embarrassment of riches that surrounds! If you really do love comics Giles and TT, it’s masterpiece time every new release day just now. Let me take you both by the hand and lead you to a current comic store.. it’ll be like when The Wizard of Oz turns from colour to black and white, your eyes will be opened and your previous geeky obsessions with superheros will melt away as you discover, mind opened fully a whole new GENRE of amazing work. I’m waiting anytime Giles and TT.

      • A.J.Smith

        Black and white to colour I meant, durgh. (or maybe colour to black and white at the end when Dorothy returns enriched by her expeience!): anyway, this error does not invalidate the rest of my post.

      • A.J.Smith

        …and I wrote “Genre” at the end instead of “medium”, so obsessed was I by the misuse of the former word by Coren, I ended up committing the same mistake myself, somewhat more invalidating to the rest of my post.
        However all is not lost!
        To fix this mistake, I’ve supplied a special “copy and paste kit” for full comprehension of my post…. simply copy my post into a word document, delete the word “GENRE” and replace it with the following:


        Coren can feel free to repeat this process for anything he writes about comics in future. Good practice!

  • Dr Bruce Banner

    The Spectator: a magazine for people who are too thick to read comics.

  • http://twitter.com/bcranco Ben Cohen

    If this is a humor piece, those who create and understand with great depth, breadth, humor and intellect it’s subject (comics)…well we don’t get the joke. It just comes off as mindless school yard bullying. Don’t pulling us into your club house games.

  • http://twitter.com/bcranco Ben Cohen

    If this is a humor piece, those who create and understand with great depth, breadth, humor and intellect it’s subject (comics)…well we don’t get the joke. It just comes off as mindless school yard bullying. Don’t pulling us into your club house games.

  • Comics Sauce!

    Wow! Ok, what a volley of abuse has been hurled at you, Mr. Coren, seemingly somewhat unfairly, too.

    To my fellow readers who have missed the biting tongue in cheek tone – please, read it again, friends! I do believe that Mr. Coren is for us and not against us.

    • A.J.Smith

      No abuse, just entirely fair and sincere attempts to show Coren what he’s missing.

      No one missed the toothless “satire” in Coren’s piece: it’s just non one cares about it as it’s boring dated pablum directed at strawmen. The real meat/provocation of the piece is the stupendous amount of ignorance Coren unconsciously betrays towards his subject matter.

  • TimK

    Would “Alice…” qualify as a comic book, then?

  • rory olcayto

    GIles Coren is just doing his job, driving traffic, and he’s done it very well. That bit about Violent Cases though, being one of the best, is the glitch in his Matrix. Come on…Even its author, the dreamteller himself Neil Gaiman, would guffaw at that one!

    However Coren’s main point is right. Comics shouldn’t be on these shortlists. It’s a different medium. (not a different genre – a strange mistake by Coren, but then this article feels a little hurried).

    Again Coren is right on terminology. The term graphic novel is a corporate marketing ruse, WIll Eisner or no Will Eisner. (That most of the so-called respectable graphic novels are actually biographies of some kind too, rather than novels, makes the term even more useless).

    And while they’re not for men exclusively, most are written by men and the audience is definitely male dominated. That’s changing, more than slowly, but probably at about the same rate as the gender split in British football match attendance.

    BUT…The Spectator has published an article on comics. Weird. Maybe someday we’ll see a graphic novel exploring this rum occurrence.

  • Mia

    Oh Giles, you seem to have lost your way somewhere along the comic book path. I’m not going to lay into you about making provocative statements regarding readers age and sex,or even your creative use of term ‘genre’ – I see we already have those bases covered. I just wonder if you have actually read a good comic in the last 20 years? Maus is of course excellent, and you seem to have made your way through the Alan Moore back catalogue, but what about the heaps of great contemporary independent comics? Here’s some recommendations to wrap your hungover head around (or not)

    Stuck Rubber Baby

    Market Day

    The Sanctury (Entirely written in paleolithic language, perhaps you’ll need a lie down first)


    Twisted Dark

    From Hell (My favourite of Alan Moore’s)

  • http://twitter.com/BuildaLibrary Tom B.

    I’m shocked that the title of this article isn’t “Bif! Bam! Pow! Comics ARE for Kids Nowadays!”

  • Nele Schindler

    I agree with Giles. You cannot even ‘read’ them in the truest sense of the word. Total visual chaos. It’s like reading a bad film script with somebody’s demented doodles thrown in. I understand that creating them is an art form. But ‘reading’ them – no thank you. I tried Watchmen and five pages in felt incredibly embarrassed at holding what is essentially a picture book.

    • A.J.Smith

      Not sure you do agree with Giles since he at least says he enjoys reading comics, including Watchmen. And really, what’s so bad about holding a picture book? Would you be saying the same about holding a book of Hogarth prints? Oooh, pictures, so intrinsically childish I can’t be seen with them.

  • mumble

    This is like Parkinson and the atom bomb and the bicycle shed: stuff the budget; we all KNOW from comics.

  • kevinlaw1222

    In that case Giles, why bother with movies/films? They are just words and moving pictures.

    Since you have told us that word and pictures in a book are for children and invalid as form of artistic expression, why are words and moving pictures different? The same logic must apply. The only difference between a graphic novel and a movie is that the pictures move. If words are enough, why dont we close down the movie industry and just have radio all the time?

    Could it be that words and moving pictures form a unique genre with its own, innate artistic credibility? In which case Graphic novel simiarly are a unique combination of art forms with their own artistic value too.
    Silly snobbery Giles.

  • kettlestone

    Was any research for this article actually done between Giles Coren being 14 and the present day? This is one of the most ridiculous, ignorant and ill-informed pieces I have read in a long time..

  • Andrew

    where did the graphic of batman and dickens come from?

  • Miranda

    Pffffttt. You did a really piss poor job of arguing your point in favour of ranting about the word “Graphic Novel” See the “Graphic” in “Graphic Novel” means “picture” not graphic as in gore or porn. The term was coined for thick all in one volumes of comic books, and for novels written in the comic book form. Watchman as a single chapter issue is a comic book, Watchman as a bound all-issues-in-one book is a Graphic Novel.

    Anyway this article is hilarious, I’m going to show it to my graphic novel’s professor. I hope he gets as much of a laugh as I did. XD

  • thecellularmatrix

    I can’t even begin to say how ignorant the writer of this article is. Just a disgrace to writers. You do not know the definitions of literature do you? Yes I said definitions, because there are multiple. Comics are very much so pieces of literature. You simply fail at providing any real argument as to why they are not. I can’t believe I wasted time reading an article written by such a small-minded, naive, so-called writer.

  • richjohnston

    They are only a genre in the same way that sculpture is a genre. As in, not. Your reading of comics seems to be stuck in a certain rut, as if all you had ever judged novels by was by nurse novels. Not that there aren’t fine nurse novels, I’m sure there are, but it smacks of limited tastes and exposure. If you read the nominated – and winning – work then, fine. If you haven’t then you speak from ignorance. Which is never the best place to speak from – and why I am not opining on whether or not nurse novels should entered into literary awards.