My First Graphic Novel: Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend

When I was sixteen, I got a job shelving books at my local library. The experience exposes you to a lot more books that you see by going to your favorite sections all the time and it reinforced my rabid reading habits. It wasn’t until I was seventeen, however, that I discovered graphic novels.

At the time, our graphic novel collection was undeveloped. It was 2002, so there were good books to buy, it’s just that no one had applied any method to it. Some of the first books we got were adaptations of classic fiction, I think they were easier to rationalize, since they might tempt kids who were required to read them anyway. It was so bad that the books were shelved in the 741s, along with cartoons and books on drawing. Fortunately, this got rectified about a year later, thanks to an interested librarian.

I decided that maybe I should look into this whole “graphic novel” thing, since I’d heard about it online. So I picked up Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend by Steve Niles and Ellman Brown.

Unfortunately, it was disappointment. I didn’t really know how to read graphic novels and from what I recall it wasn’t very well done. Probably because it was an adaptation, not conceived of and originally written as a graphic novel. I was confused and went to Sparknotes to find out what actually happened. I wish I could get my hands on it again, to confirm my instincts, but it’s not in my local library system.

But fortunately, my work continued to expose me to good graphic novels and before I was 18 I’d already read Watchmen and a few other good but less-impressive ones. By now, I’ve read plenty, including the entirety of Sandman (highly-recommend!), some of Alan Moore’s other stuff, and other well-known ones.

As for I Am Legend, I decided not to see the film (since I heard from ProfX how different it was) and I still haven’t read the short-story. Yet despite the graphic novel’s shortcomings, I was left with a sense of wonder at the idea of a world turned upside-down, where the last real human is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

Do you read graphic novels? Do you remember your first? Was it any good?

4 Comments

  1. vered says:

    “Do you read graphic novels?” I don’t, but now I’m intrigued!

  2. Ruth says:

    They’re a really awesome literary form in and of themselves. :)

    I recommend starting with something classic. Watchmen is pretty good for that because it’s all in one volume. It’s a bit gory. Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere has also been made into a graphic novel and for that story it works really well. There’s also the classic Sandman series, but it requires tracking down all the compilations from your library as you go…very much worth it but takes a little more effort.

  3. Amy says:

    My first was V for Vendetta and then 300 I think. I feel like I’ve read several, and then I glance at my bookshelf and realize that I’ve barely started. :)

    Also, I highly recommend the short story I Am Legend.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Quickie Reviews for FCBD Comics =-.

  4. Steve says:

    I didn’t discover graphic novels until I was middle-aged, despite being a big fan of superhero movies (Batman, etc.). Watchmen was great, but until I read “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Red Son” I didn’t appreciate the genre. I’m not crazy about getting into it too much – libraries don’t carry them and therefore you’re going to spend a lot on them – but wow, a good graphic novel can equal or best a regular novel. Watchmen’s one of the best novels of the 20th century according to Time magazine, after all.
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..landscape design, and links =-.

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