Last week, I read this post from School Library Journal's Good Comics for Kids blog: Are Graphic Biographies Too Fictional?
Capstone has published quite a few biographies in its Graphic Library brand, and I wanted to give a publisher's perspective on the question. I edited a couple of Graphic Biographies a few years ago. One of them was the biography of Mother Jones: Labor Leader. She's not as well known as George Washington or Abe Lincoln, but she has an interesting history nonetheless. She was a leader in the fight for unions, back when unions were just getting started. She organized coal miners and worked to help child laborers. And she was known for her rousing speeches.
One of the conventions in the Graphic Biographies is to include primary source quotes in the book, highlighted in a different color to stand out. It's a nice way to indicate that the rest of the dialogue wasn't exactly what the person said, until you come to the special yellow boxes. But beyond the quotes, I remember working with the author to make sure that the dialogue could capture the essence of Mother Jones for young readers, even if it wasn't exactly what she said due to length or level issues. I like to think young readers will come away with an understanding of this amazing woman working tirelessly for her cause.
The book also includes a bibliography, and I know the book was well-researched. I liken it to a film made about someone's life. Or a picture book. Does it capture the essence of the person? If so, then I think you've done the job of good nonfiction. If you have some time to leave a comment, I'd love to hear what you think about the subject.
Gillia Olson, Managing Editor