Graphically Speaking

Picture This: Graphic Novels Go Mainstream

Graphic novels aren't any less edgy than they used to be. There are still plenty of alienated, loopy characters filling the pages of graphic novels who practice their own slightly jaded existentialism. But judging from the near deluge of graphic novels recently published by Pantheon Books, an imprint of Random House, they've just become somewhat easier to find on bookshelves, even though each of the Pantheon titles refuse to fit neatly into defined categories. This month, Pantheon publishes Chris Ware's surreal Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth; Daniel Clowes' vibrant Eightball, and earlier this year published Ben Katchor's Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District. Pantheon is sending Ware, Clowes, and Chip Kidd, a book jacket designer whose iconoclastic designs have changed the way books are packaged in America, on a Funny Books Tour across America since graphic novels are called "funny books" in the publishing industry. That's funny as in "haha" and funny as in "I don't get it," and the artists featured in this roundup encompass both sorts. Ware, Clowes, and Kidd will be at BookPeople on Tuesday, September 19, at 7pm.

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