4 Myths About Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga

Chad Comello staff photo

February 01, 2022

By Chad Comello

Categories: Collections, Spotlight

"They're just for kids."

"They aren't real literature."

"They don't count as reading."

"They're not appropriate."

Maybe you've heard these sentiments before about comics, graphic novels, manga, or anime. On behalf of my fellow librarians, I'm here to tell you: they're all wrong. Here's why.


Myth #1: "They're just for kids."

This used to be true. For a long time newspaper comic strips and superhero comics were the only options for graphical entertainment for kids. But as we've seen the superhero genre explode into blockbuster movies and popular expanded universes on the page and screen, literary stories told in visual form are clearly enjoyed by readers of all ages. And they now tackle far more kinds of stories than just superheroes.


Myth #2: "They aren't real literature."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes. But there's no denying that a story told with images can be just as powerful and transformative as one with only text—sometimes even more so. Many graphic novels are adaptations of well-known classics or original stories with compelling characters dealing with complex issues.


Myth #3: "They don't count as reading."

Sure they do! Reading is reading, whether you're an adult looking for an entertaining story or a young child learning how to read. (For kids especially, librarians consider any reading at all a win: street signs, the back of a cereal box, whatever!) Some graphic novels may have more words than others, but they are still books. They're also great for reluctant readers.


Myth #4: "They aren't appropriate."

As is true with all literature, different books are written for different audiences and age levels. It's important for parents and caregivers to consider the subject matter and reading level that's appropriate for their child, while also allowing readers of all ages to pursue what interests them.


staff comics

A few titles to get started

Want to try a comic or graphic novel for yourself? Comics Plus, our newest digital collection, offers unlimited access to a variety of titles for all ages. Log in with your library card on their website or via the LibraryPass app.

Here are a few titles our staff love:

  • "Packed with breathtaking illustrations, Korgi follows the fantastical adventures of a young girl and her quirky, adorable dog in Korgi Hollow. Almost entirely wordless and suitable for all ages, this series is perfect for anyone who thinks The Lord of the Rings could use more dogs." - Charlotte, Technical Services Associate
  • “Manga Classics does a whole series on William Shakespeare plays, like this manga edition of Romeo and Juliet. The books not only include Shakespeare’s full original text, but also have graphics to help readers follow along. Great for those of us who still can’t understand Elizabethan English!” - Cailyn, Adult Services Librarian
  • Sarah’s Scribbles is a collection of short black-and-white comics making hilariously self-deprecating, slice-of-life observations about the challenges of school, relationships, living on the internet, being an artist, and other modern dilemmas.” - Chad, Marketing & Engagement Manager
  • “My daughter Alexandra introduced me to Danganranpa and has been a fan of both the game and Manga versions. It’s a murder mystery/horror story that follows 16 high school students who each have been selected to attend Hope’s Peak Academy for their special talents. The students are threatened by an anthropomorphic bear who gives them only one way out to leave the Academy, which is to murder another student and not be found guilty in the subsequent trial. This is a creative and interesting series, with beautiful and original illustrations and stories.” - Susan, Circulation Services Clerk
  • “In Princeless—the hilarious, action-packed remix of traditional fairy tales—Princess Adrienne was locked in a tower guarded by a dragon, as has long been tradition in her family, but finds that waiting to be rescued doesn’t suit her. So she and her dragon Sparky leave the tower and embark on an epic quest to rescue Adrienne’s sisters from their own towers.” - Jessie, Youth Services Librarian

Chad Comello is the Marketing & Engagement Manager at Morton Grove Public Library.