It’s a time for graphic novels. That might come off as an odd thing to say in the midst of awards season, and yet, I can’t help see it everywhere I go.
Anyone who is in tune with comics and graphic novels already know how structurally, they are page-turning storyboards to film and shows waiting to happen. While we’ve seen that a lot akin the superhero franchises, it’s the one-offs, the standalone graphic novels, the visual stories tapped into communities, and worlds even, apart from what we’re already familiar with that are starting to manifest into something more than what their bookworm audiences already know them for.
I’ve seen that not too long ago in the film adaptation of Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings; a project that’s been 15 years in the making for first-time director Randall Park. While I won’t dive too deeply into what it’s about (seeing that this is not a review), what I will say that a mid-2000’s graphic novel commenting on Asian American representation and how we perceive it is well ahead of its time, yet its film adaptation makes for perfect timing with all the Asian American content that has come out in recent years.
I write this on the brink of the yet-to-be released adaptation of another mid-2000’s graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, for which Disney is undertaking its recreation for the streaming world. Its exploration of being Chinese American as a youth and how its done is one that is both ahead of its time… and also a little head scratching if you know some of the context in it that is, admittedly, very questionable. Knowing that the team behind it was conscious enough to both have Gene involved and also cast actors who, not too long ago, received their long overdue first Academy Award nominations, is still destined to be a sight to behold.
Graphic novels have been leaping off the pages into real life and also into animation, as is the case of Netflix’s upcoming film adaptation of N.D. Stevenson’s Nimona. A queer positive story filled with magic, science, and another Lone Wolf-and-Cub pairing (of many these days), it’s an engaging story I read for the first time just a few weeks back, getting ready for its yet-to-be announced release date. It’s astonishing to know that this was almost entirely scrapped when it was previously under Disney’s jurisdiction, as it’s definitely a story that is most surely beneficial to readers who could easily see themselves in it. It’s apparent now, just as it was apparent back in 2015 when the graphic novel originally dropped.
It’s a time for graphic novels — both for reading them and seeing the potential in bringing them off their homey pages. Seeing all these graphic novels being brought to life this year, it most certainly makes for interesting timing on my end, as someone who’s releasing her first graphic novel later this year. After all, it was originally written as a short film… and the idea of bringing it to the big screen hasn’t been completely abandoned either. Seeing all these projects coming into fruition, it’s starting to show me what’s possible.
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