The rise of the graphic novel

Graphic novels
A wall of graphic novels at Waterstones.
Morebyless | Creative Commons via Flickr

When the John Newbery Medal was handed out Monday, for the first time ever, the prestigious children’s literature award went to a graphic novel, Jerry Craft’s “New Kid.” Just more proof that the popularity of comic books and graphic novels is one of the biggest success stories in publishing right now. In 2018, sales topped $1 billion. Long dominated by male readers and superheroes, the genre is expanding to focus more on women and girls, people of color, the LGBTQ experience and even nonfiction.

Guest host Chris Farrell discusses the rise of graphic novels with two Minneapolis comic artists. Is this the origin story of a formidable new breed of books?


  • Rob Kirby is a cartoonist and author of the comic strip “Curbside” and several graphic novels, including his work-in-progress memoir, “Marry Me A Little.”

  • Barbara Schulz runs the Comic Art degree program, which she helped establish, at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.