Comics vs. Graphic Novels: Evolution and the Paperback

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Difference between Comics and Graphic Novels

Comics and graphic novels have fascinated young, but also older audiences since their first releases back in 1920s. Attempts were made in earlier years as well by caricaturists and drawing artists, but the movement gained more visibility and even became more popular later on with the success of comics such as Doc Savage and many others.

In the modern society they are highly appreciated and can be found in bookstores around the world. People celebrate them at famous fairs such as the one in held in Angoulême, France where international artists are invited to showcase their finest works.

In Japan, comics and graphic novels known as Manga are a defining feature for popular culture. They make animation series based on it, create fan clubs and costume themselves as their favorite heroes. 

Graphic Novels

Form of Expression

Comics are sequential narratives of graphics where dialogue is inserted under the form of word balloons. Each comic artist has its distinctive signature when it comes to creating a mix of colors, background environment, characters, motion and story line. Some choose to draw black and white comics, while others use an extensive color palette.

Comics usually have hilarious subjects portraying situations and characters which can make people laugh. Artists use a combination of jokes and funny actions to generate comical content. The characters themselves are a good source of fun from the way they are drawn by the artist. Facial expressions are enough in some cases to cause laughs.

Graphic novels also rely on sequential graphic narratives with dialogues. Artists have more liberty to choose their subjects. They can treat mature themes having a dramatic content related to crime stories, violence, drug wars and others.

Target Audience

Comics have many young readers which find the content in line with similar hilarious situations they've experienced. Comics target directly children and high school students. There are some though for more demanding and older audiences.

Graphic novels are read by more mature audiences as their content touches more profound themes. Their humor is more subtle and can be appreciated by more refined or niche readers.


It is common for artists to work on a series thereby releasing comic strips on a regular basis for magazines, newspaper or online comic websites. Web comics and digital collections gain each year more and more readers especially since technology has made it possible to buy reader devices at affordable prices. Recently we've seen an upsurge in comics and graphic novels being brought to the silver screen with lukewarm to sizzling successes.

Graphic novels are usually standalone works published in hardcover format and available for purchase in bookstores as well on the Internet. Any continuance will also be a whole story not split in daily or weekly strips.

Similarities and Differences

  • Comics and graphic novels are sequential graphic narratives having dialogue inserted as word balloons. Comics have hilarious subjects, while graphic novels can be of dramatic nature.
  • Comics target younger audiences; graphic novels are addressed to older readers.
  • Comics are published as comic strip series in newspapers, magazines and websites. Graphic novels are released in hardcover format in bookstores and online.


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