I have been a fan of comic strips and comic books since I was a kid, and I’ve been known to pick up a graphic novel here and there. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud is a nonfiction graphic “novel” about how and why comics “work.” Why does it look like Superman is flying? How do we know what Charlie Brown is thinking? Why do we even care?
McCloud clearly and helpfully explains the fundamental visual and narrative techniques of comics, often with very clever “meta” illustrations. I would attempt to describe some of them, but that would be as interesting as, well, explaining a comic strip. I’m not LaGuardia, here. McCloud also examines the nature of comics, the combination of words and pictures in a narrative art form.
If you are like me, a thoughtful, mature, and good-looking adult who still sneaks over the graphic novel aisle at Borders, read this book. It will arm you with plenty of explanations when your significant other asks why you spent the grocery money on six different X-Men titles and a reprint of The Dark Knight Returns.