The difference between Comics and Graphic Novels: Explained!

As a comic newbie, I’m sure you might’ve thought, “What are comics? What are graphic novels? How do they differ? What are Mangas? How are they made? What is the experience they are made to give? Where do they stand in the entertainment field?”

The most basic definition that everyone knows about comics is that they are pictures and words combined in order to narrate a story. There’s nothing wrong in that part, but there is a common misunderstanding out there among a lot, that comics are for children.

New 52, Justice League, Issue 2.

The funny part in this is that most of these people have read nothing other than tinkle; by the way, tinkle is awesome, if you haven’t read it, you should! It’s a timeless masterpiece. So, let me tell you what comics and graphic novels are. Comics are the medium of telling a story in forms of smaller stories that are released as issues, where an issue would have a complete story starting and ending in it. They generally consist of a large number of issues. Whereas graphic novels are the medium where stories are told in a single stretch in fewer volumes*. Manga’s are Japanese graphic novels with an entirely different way of storytelling, they are very long stories that are told by splitting the stories into issues. These are not smaller stories as in comics, instead are parts of a bigger story. Sometimes in graphic novels, before releasing the volumes, the stories in the volumes can be split into issues like the Mangas. The most important difference between comics and graphic novels is that comics have stories that are less complicated and are easily understandable whereas graphic novels have large and complicated storylines. Issues published by mostly well-known companies such as MARVEL and DC are not made for children. This is said from the perspective of the understanding capability of children and not of 18+ stories.

Ok, so why should you read it?  Well, obviously you don’t have to, but still, you do need to try it once, so that you do not underestimate one of the best mediums of entertainment. Before judging a particular medium of entertainment, it’s better that you try it yourself than listen to what your all-knowing friends tell. So, what are graphic novels made of?

New 52, Batman, Issue 3

Graphic novels are made of pictures and words. Ok, so what makes them different from a newspaper? These are engineered to pull you into their world with pictures you can read and words that can show. There have been developments in this field for more than a century on what would psychologically make a person care about the story in the graphic novel and keep reading it.

Graphic novels are in between novels and movies. Novels, being one of the most original mediums of storytelling, purely need one’s imaginative power to visualize the story. People who are used to only watching TV and movies till their early 20s find it hard to kick start the novel-reading habit; but the movies that are based on these books, are criticized by the readers to be merely scratching the surface of what they experienced in the books, so the moviegoers miss out the real and best experience of the story they deserve. This is not the case only for them, but also for people who do not read graphic novels. These days a lot of movies, Tv series, and web series are being made from stories based on graphic novels, for example, flash tv series, arrow tv series, the MCU, which are all stories derived from the characters based on graphic novels, but only fraction of the original character is bought to the screens and people love that itself, imagine how much they’d love to see the original character’s stories. So, as I was saying people find it hard to kick start the novel-reading habit but find it easy watching movies. Well, you are in luck, graphic novels ARE movies; just with the sound missing. As I mentioned before, with words that show and pictures you could read, they are made in a way that you get to feel everything, the sound, motion, surrounding, the emotions; you are not made to see or hear or smell, but feel. As the famous saying goes, “You may forget what a person made you see or hear, but you’ll never forget the way they made you feel” I’m not going to talk on which is best, movie or graphic novel, but, before I finish, I would like to mention some facts about graphic novels that are widely unrealized.

  • When it comes to superhero graphic novels, the stories never end.
Action Comics #1000

THAT’S ACTION COMICS ISSUE 1000!!!!!!!

  • You don’t like the way of a superhero, there is always alternate storyline or in other words “Elseworlds” or alternate universes

Examples:

Batman Curse of the White Knight #4
Superman Red Son
  • In my personal experience and also many great readers and writers’ experience, most mainstream graphic novels are created with so very vibrant art, booming with life, that it seems like they might actually jump out of the pages into your hands.

Examples:

New 52 Justice League Issue 2
New 52 Justice League Issue 4

 

  • And finally, the good feeling of getting to know the real character and also seeing him/her in much more different breath-taking and amazing storylines

I hope you got the picture. There is obviously a lot more that can be told to praise this medium of entertainment, but to be crisp, this is a medium that offers a lot more than whatever other mediums in the entertainment field do, but it is the same medium that is being widely underestimated in India. So, before I finish, consider this to be a request from a fellow fan and try a graphic novel today on your most favorite superhero. Check out some of these graphic novels, to begin with.

*Volumes are several issues that complete any major part of the story put together as a single issue.

Source: Getty Images

JACK THE KING KIRBY

 – Gowtham Ganesh

A big lover and an avid reader of graphic novels.

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