Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lysley Tenorio, On Reading

"I'll start by saying the obvious. All writers should read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays--that stuff feeds the work, it's inevitable. But I'll add one more thing to that list: graphic novels (which I'll consider interchangeable with comic books). Reading a graphic novel/comic book requires you to negotiate dialogue and exposition with image and layout, with visual sequence. Think of a panel: the form uses the panel as a visual representation of a definitive temporal moment--an actual unit of narrative. As writers, we can learn so much from a narrative moment that's represented visually, with (and often without) text--one of the most powerful things I've ever 'read' is from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight-- a page full of wordless panels depicting the unraveling of Martha Wayne's pearl necklace, that moment she and her husband are gunned down in front of their son, a young Bruce Wayne. Few images (and perhaps fewer words) explain Batman's psyche more clearly than that.

Reading comic books has helped me understand that we read narrative not for information, but for experience. Comic book writers and artists understand this from the very first panel."

Lysley Tenorio is the author of Monstress. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Manoa, and The Best New American Voices and Pushcart Prize anthologies. For more information, visit}

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