Gene Yang Responds
When Tony Long made his adorably old-fashioned rant against those newfangled graphic novels in Wired News, the impetus of his ramblings was none other than National Book Award nominee American Born Chinese. Now the author of ABC, Gene Yang, has responded to Long. You want to know what makes Gene Yang Gene Yang? Class, baby. Pure unadulterated class. Here's part of how he backs up his argument by using fellow nominee M.T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing as his example:
Octavian Nothing is a brilliant book. Please go read it if you haven't. One of the most intriguing aspects of the book (for me, at least) is Anderson's use of visual storytelling devices. For example, Anderson uses different fonts and font styles to communicate time, place, and emotion.And later...
There are other, more striking, examples. In an early chapter, the protagonist opens the door to a forbidden room and is startled by a sign hanging on the wall, a sign reveals the secret behind the peculiarities of his existence. That sign is DRAWN in the middle page. It slaps you in the face on the page turn, much as it does Octavian when he opens the door.
No one would argue that M.T. Anderson's book is not a novel, but does Anderson's inclusion of graphic devices dimish the "novel-ness" of Octavian Nothing? Does it make Anderson less of a "novelist"?
Not to me. To me, it shows that he committed to the telling of his story above all else, and that he is willing to use whatever devices modern printing technology affords to communicate effectively. To me, it makes him a storyteller worthy of my admiration.
A great piece. Go and see it for yourself.