Monday, June 2, 2014

Graphic novels vs. comics

I came late to the comic book world.  Oh sure, I read comics when I was a kid, but they were usually in the Sunday paper.  One strip at a time.  Peanuts, Marmaduke, Wizard of Id, that kind of thing.  I think the first real comic book I read was Teen Titans or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, back in 1986, when my roommate gave me one to read.  Being an independent kind of guy I gravitated towards the obscure and picked up Xenozoic Tales-Cadillacs and Dinosaurs.  I never really wanted to get into the mainstream world of DC or Marvel.  Now that all these superhero movies are coming out, I am really enjoying some of the classics.  Spider-man, Avengers, Green Lantern, etc.  Now I keep hearing about Graphic Novels, WHAT?  The first time I had heard of these it was simply a comic book with no words.  Just pictures and you used your own imagination to fill in the story behind all of the pictures.  Has something changed in this genre?  Did they start adding words or was my first experience with Graphic Novels a fluke.  What exactly is he difference between and Graphic Novel and a traditional comic book?  What do you prefer and why?  


Confused in Comic Land

1 comment:

  1. Dear Confused,

    A graphic novel is essentially any collected story of images and text in a book form. Often storylines from several individual comic books are republished together in a graphic novel form. Sometimes this is referred to as "Trade Paperback." I don't personally know of any graphic novels that are void of text, but I would be interested in checking that out.

    Some of the earlier notable "graphic novels" that popularized the term and format were published in the '70's and '80's. Frank Miller's: The Dark Knight Returns is possibly what brought the term into a mainstream that permeated beyond normal comic boundaries (It's darker tone was part of the impetus for the 1989 Batman movie). A couple other notable graphic novels from that time include: Maus and Watchmen.

    While any collected work of comics or other "sequential art" that tell one main story thread technically fall under the "graphic novel" umbrella, it is widely accepted that "true" graphic novels are more darker and adult in tone (like the three I mentioned above). Both Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns are available in other media (The Dark Knight Returns recently was released as an animated two-DVD story, that was quite good). I don't know if Maus has been adapted in any way, but if you are interested, it is a retelling of Nazi Germany and the holocaust with anthropomorphic mice instead of humans.

    I hope that helps shed some light on the subject.