Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Launch & Guest Post from author Mark Victor Young

Why You Should Be Reading Graphic Novels in 2016
A Pure Jonel Guest Blog Post by Mark Victor Young

My latest novel “The Launch” is ostensibly about two characters with a great love of comics, pursuing their dream to become professional comics artists. They go to great lengths (!) to achieve this goal, which may leave some readers scratching their heads and thinking, what could make someone so passionate about comics?

When most people think of Comics, the first thing that comes to mind is superheroes in tights or the newspaper funnies. Granted, there is a lot of both in Comics, but also so much more. Comics is a medium and superheroes represent only one of the many genres within that medium. Comics which will appeal to grown-ups have come to be known as Graphic Novels.

In his book Understanding Comics – The Invisible Art, Scott McCloud defines comics as “Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.” You may have noticed that it contains nothing about tights.

If you look at my Graphic Novels shelf on Goodreads, you’ll find an eclectic mix of genres, art styles, and content. Mostly fiction, but also a good amount of non-fiction (which belies the use of the word “novel,” of course, but nobody has come up with a better term, yet). Comics is actually a surprisingly good vehicle for sharing ideas and information. History, biography, and science all can benefit from this collision of words and pictures. Either way, it has emerged from its infancy into its own literary form.

Witness only the number of major literary prizes which have been awarded to graphic novels over the past few decades with growing regularity. These include the Pulitzer Prize as well as the Hugo, Bram Stoker, World Fantasy, and Guardian First Book Awards. This is a medium taken seriously on the world stage. Take a look at the best-selling books for adults in France, Italy, and Japan, and you may be surprised to find many graphic novels (aka Bandes Dessinées, Fumetti, or Manga) on those lists.

If you need more proof that graphic novels have some of the most engaging storylines out there, look no further than all the recent movies which began their lives as comics. You may not have even known that the following movies were graphic novels first: Men in Black, 300, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Sin City, The Mask, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Road to Perdition, Cowboys and Aliens, Blade, Red, The Crow, Kick-Ass, and many more. I didn’t even mention all the blockbuster superhero movies that were (obviously) adapted from comics.

By now, I trust you’re convinced there is more to comics than superheroes and that they represent lots of great reading opportunities that you may enjoy. To get you started, I have personally curated a list on my Goodreads profile of suggested titles for the newbie graphic novel reader. I read most of these from my local library, but they aren’t much more expensive than trade paperback novels. They are a shorter read, yes, but often my appreciation of the artwork brings me back to re-read them again and again.

I hope you enjoy these titles as much as I did. Please send me your feedback, good or bad. Any recommendations? Let me know. You can also read some of my own comic strips, written by me and illustrated by Tim Levins at

About the author:

Husband, father, writer. Happily married since 1992 and a father since 2003, Mark has been a writer for as long as he can remember. Meat-free since 1995. Born in Toronto and growing up in London, Canada, he was the first winner of the Lillian Kroll Prize for Creative Writing at Western University, where he also completed a degree in English Literature.

The manuscript of his novel Once Were Friends was long-listed in The Writers' Studio 1st Book Competition. The manuscript for Risk was a semi-finalist in the Chapters Robertson Davies First Novel Contest and it cracked the Top Ten Mystery Thriller Hot List on in the summer of 2014. His latest novel is The Launch, released December 2015.

Mark has published novels, poetry, short fiction, feature articles, comic strips and book reviews in various media. He lives in London with his wife and daughter, those to whom all his work and play is dedicated.

Connect with the author -

Title:  The Launch
Author:  Mark Victor Young
Publication Date:  December 8th 2015 by Hanton House Creative Media
Length:  260pgs
Genre:  graphic novel
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★★

Back Cover Blurb:

Watson Sinclair has only been in New York for a couple of hours and already he’s had a small accident in his car involving some distracting cleavage and an inconveniently-placed fruit stand. His best friend JC Dubois is a few blocks away kidnapping the editor of the Royal Features Syndicate. Watson has to pick them up and get back across the Canadian border safely with their prisoner. It didn’t have to be this way.

Watson and JC always wanted to be cartoonists for the daily papers. Their dreams came true when they received a syndication contract for their comic strip. But then months went by and legendary editor Ray Bennett stopped returning their calls. They were faced with a choice: give up and go back to their day jobs or consider drastic measures to get the job done. Like kidnapping Ray and taking over the launch of the strip themselves.

The plan is simple: drive to New York to take Ray and his laptop back to London. Give orders to Ray’s prick of an Assistant Editor. Keep Ray quiet and secure, convince his staff that he is working from home, and keep all this from their wives. They’ve got one week.

If they pull this off and execute a successful launch, their dreams are back on track. If they screw it up and get caught, they go to jail. Nothing like a little motivation.

My Review:

Once again Young has written a novel that captured my attention from the first page. His comical, slightly snarky writing style brings out the characters in a manner that I found both endearing and very approachable. He created an entire world and cast that I found myself continually coming back to. I enjoyed becoming part of it as I lost myself in the story.

I enjoyed the way in which the plot progressed throughout. Not only did the characters become more and more developed throughout, but the antics and other issues and events that came about throughout were loads of fun.

I’ll admit that this was my intro into the world of graphic novels, but Young definitely has me hooked! This was a fantastic story that was truly enriched by the graphics.

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