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Manga Classics Creating Context for Classic Literature

Dr. Katie Monnie

I feel like a kid on holiday, looking at and seeing my most wished-for toy come right out of a wrapping-papered box and into my hands. But I am not a kid. And it’s not a holiday.

Professionally (as an Associate Professor of Literacy with Comics & Graphic Novels) and personally (as an avid lover and reader of comics and graphic novels) I live and breathe for the best graphic novels I can find. Recently, I found the most high-quality graphic novel adaptations of canonical stories.

Manga Classics has offered the graphic novel and comic book world the absolute best graphic novel adaptations of canonical authors and their stories, the very graphic novel adaptations that I (and many others) have been wishing for years. These new graphic novel adaptations of canonical texts (including titles by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Victor Hugo, and many more) offer today’s educators, librarians, families, and students opportunities to read what contemporary literacy research identifies as the most critical and influential textual platform of the twenty-first century: the graphic novel.

Because twenty-first century readers are the first generation of readers to be asked to read from a shared literacy stage where print-text literacies and visual literacies are equally significant in telling literary-level stories, Manga Classics’ graphic novel adaptations of canonical texts comes to us at the perfect time in history. Let’s consider Manga Classics’ graphic novel adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which years of research has found challenging for modern readers of all ages and abilities. Due to Manga Classics’ graphic novel adaptation of Great Expectations, however, the text can now come to life for modern readers, and, in doing so, become much more approachable and valuable.

Beyond the reading research that has established graphic novels as the most approachable modern textual platform for today’s readers, let’s consider how well graphic novel adaptations of canonical texts are for readers of diverse abilities. According to Reading Engagement Theory, which states that schema-choice-motivation-and-interest increase comprehension, graphic novel adaptations of canonical texts best exemplify what type of text today’s readers of all abilities not only desire to read, but also best comprehend. Ultimately, as the publisher of Manga Classics clearly understands, if we want modern students to comprehend and continue the legacy of canonical texts we must assign the graphic novel adaptations of these canonical texts, for the future of reading for all ages and all abilities is both textual and visual.

If we consider Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and the visual importance of the letter “A” we can easily understand why Manga Classics has included this title in their catalog as well. In their graphic novel adaptation of The Scarlet Letter the letter “A” is obviously textually explained (as in Hawthorne’s original text). The letter “A” is even more powerfully influential and respectful of Hawthorne’s original text, however, it has even greater impact with the use of the color red every time it is visually represented to modern readers.

Manga Classic’s new graphic novel adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice also exemplifies the most effective attention to canonical detail for twenty-first century readers. To see Austen’s purposefully subtle nuances in regards to her characters’ emotions, relationships, and inner thoughts come to life in the graphic novel adaptation is both mesmerizing and memorable.

So, what’s so great about Manga Classics? Simple: They are the VERY FIRST publisher to respect the modern reader’s need for canonical texts to be presented in graphic novel format with acute attention to the original canonical story’s textual craftsmanship, and the contemporary calling for the highest quality artwork to enhance that experience.


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