S is a fiction novel written by J.J. Abrams (of Lost television fame) and Doug Dorst (ISBN 9780316201643). It contains a story within the story, written by fictional authors, who happen to be shrouded in mystery. The two readers tell their story thru marginal notes they write in a book titled Ship of Theseus (also written by Abrams and Dorst) - passing it back and forth, commenting on the text, the mysterious author, and notes to each other. Another interesting aspect to this book is that it includes many loose pieces inserted into the pages. These are things the two readers insert for each other to support their arguments, postcards, and other such things. It’s quite a package, forcing us to think outside of the usual direct, linear narrative.
Graphic novels seem to particularly inspire creativity in packaging. Rage of Poseidon, by Anders Nilsen, is a graphic novel with the pages bound all as one long page, folded up accordion-style. You can turn the doubled-up pages to read it like a normal book or stretch it out to see the whole thing at once. The text accompanying the black & white images tells short stories which give a different, sometimes irreverent, perspective on traditional myths involving various gods, including the titular Poseidon, the Christian God, and various other Greek and Roman gods, their interaction with our world and mortal human society.
Another graphic novel is similarly bound, with one 24-foot long “page”, folded, accordion style into its hardcover binding. This one is one long continuous image of war. It’s Joe Sacco’s The Great War: July 1, 1916. It is a wordless image, each part of the scene smoothly blending into the next, showing us the incredibly death-filled Battle of the Somme, in France. It moves forward in time by seamlessly showing the altered space.
This is not Sacco’s first dive into deeply moving portrayals of war and serious historical topics in graphic novel form. He’s traveled as a journalist to various nations under conflict, and found his style of black and white illustration to depict the daily lives of the very real people living through tragic times in vivid detail. Palestine: in the Gaza Strip, won the American Book Award in 1996. He continued on to Bosnia and wrote Safe Area Gorazde, about life there in the midst of the Boznian War in 1992-95. This work won the Eisner Award for Best Original Graphic Novel in 2001. He lives here in Portland, Oregon, and even has local roots in this west side, having gone to high school in Beaverton. — Katie