Comics vs. Graphic Novels

Difference between comics and graphic novels

Comics and graphic novels are mediums by which one can read a story that contains both words and pictures. They have often been described as cartoons and have always been in demand since they first came on the market. Comics were traditionally the domain of children and adults considered it childish to read one of these books. Graphic novels have more mature content than comics and are therefore geared toward the adult market. This lets many of the secret comic readers enjoy their favorite mode of reading without fear of being ridiculed.

What are comics?

There are many different ways of telling a story through comics because it is a broad category. It includes comic strips in newspapers, web comics, caricatures, comic books and more.  As a rule, though, the term “comics” refers to a story told in sequence and that is predominantly pictures with some text. The main part of the story is told through colorful pictures and word balloons are used to give the conversation between the characters or to provide explanation. In this way, the main purpose of the text is to expand the story that is told in the pictures.

The first comics appeared as a mass market product in the early decades of the 20th century. The first appearance was a weekly feature in the Sunday newspaper. The comic strip feature became so popular that it was quickly extended to a daily feature. Their popularity increased the sales of newspapers. Very soon after publishers realized the value of these stories told in picture format and started publishing them in book magazine and book formats. The story lines usually had adventures or were funny in nature because this appealed to children, Action heroes such as Superman and Batman greatly increased both the market and the popularity of comics.

The common term for comics in Japan is manga. In these comics the subject matter varied from kids’ themes to adventures and subjects more appropriate for an adult audience with sexual and erotic subjects. The same technique that was used in comics was later applied to animation in films, and was called anime in Japan.

What are graphic novels?

Graphic novels are hard bound books that convey a story by means of pictures and some text. Like comics the storyline is portrayed mainly through the pictures, but the length is the same as a book and not short stories like comics. The subject matter is more suited to adults and rather than being humorous or adventurous, it is more mature. This is one of the ways in which they are different from comics that are geared towards younger readers.

Graphic novels have been criticized by some who say that the distinction between them and comics is only a ploy to sell the comics to a more mature audience. They are also more expensive  and still use the same format to tell a story.

The difference between graphic novels and comics

Comic books are generally thin and paperbound like a magazine. Graphic novels are thicker and are hard bound. Graphic novels are the same price as books, but comic books are much cheaper usually costing between $2 and $4 each.

The story in a comic book is usually a serial and one story continues on to the next comic. The story in a graphic novel has a beginning, middle and end.  Comics usually focus on funny characters or superheroes, but the stories told in graphic novels usually are more mature in their content.