Stormbreaker and Point Blanc: the graphic novels

July 31, 2008

Stormbreaker: the graphic novel (ISBN 1-84428-111-6) and Point Blanc: the graphic novel (ISBN 978-1-84428-112-1) by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnston, Kanako and Yuzuru (Walker Books, ISBN)

Who are they for? Middle school students

What are they about? These two graphic novels are based on Horowitz’s very popular Alex Rider series. Stormbreaker tells the story of how 14 year old orphan, Alex, is recruited into M16 after his Uncle is killed in a car crash. In Point Blanc, Alex is reluctantly brought into M16 again to investigate strange goings-on in a school in Switzerland – a school that costs ten thousand pounds a term and takes boys who have been expelled from other schools. More titles in the Alex Rider series are on their way.

How can they be used? Besides the obvious use as a substitute for reading the full prose versions, these graphic novels can be used even more effectively to study:

  • adaptation
  • translating a story from one medium into another
  • the use of visual and gestural resources.

For students new to visual design elements, graphic novels are an engaging and accessible resource. They also form a nice intermediary between studying still and moving images – many of the features distinctive to films (e.g. camera movement, performance, editing etc) are evident – with the advantage that the graphic novel doesn’t have to be stopped and rewound. Finally, graphic novels such as these provide the opportunity to discuss one of the significant differences between graphic novels and films – the representation of time. In films, movement through time is suggested by the projection of a quick succession of still images onto the same space. As a result, the viewer can (normally) only see the present (in terms of what’s happening on the screen). In graphic novels, the reader can see the present, past and future at one glance. Very good audiobooks of each volume in the Alex Rider series are also available – useful for comparing the way language adapts for yet another medium.

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