The term "graphic novel" was first used in 1964 by Richard Kyle in a newspaper published by the Comic Amateur Press Alliance. DC Comics used the term in 1972 for the second issue of "Sinister House of Secret Love", but the first time it was used to refer to a graphic novel as such was 4 years later, to refer to Richard Corben's "Bloodstar"., "Beyond Time" by George Metzger and "Chandler: Red Tide" by Jim Steranko. The popularity of this term was established in 1978 with the pocket publication of "A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories" by Will Eisner, inspired by Lynd Ward's illustrated novels of the 1920s and 1930s. creating graphic novels is prior to the consecration of the term, there is some confusion regarding what constitutes a comic book and what constitutes a graphic novel. Although there is no universal agreement for the use of any of these terms, but in the following steps you will find some things to look for to distinguish between a comic book and a graphic novel.
Step 1. Determine if the publication is recurring or a single issue
Although the word "comics" often includes both comic books and graphic novels, the former is a magazine with volume and issue numbers. A graphic novel is a unique publication, although some publishers publish series of graphic novels, as Marvel did from 1982 to 1988 with its series of 35 works.
- Just because the word "novel" is used on the pages of a comic book does not automatically make it a graphic novel. The 1940s All-Flash Quarterly stories (4-part, novel-like length) and the 3-part "novels" of Superman in Action Comics and their late 1950s comics and the early 1960s are not graphic novels per se, as they were all part of a series of stories in comic book format.
- A novel adapted to the graphic format, may or may not be a graphic novel. The novel adaptations that appear in Classics Illustrated are not graphic novels themselves, as this was a periodical. On the other hand, certain adaptations of a given multi-volume novel (such as Jane Fancher's 3-volume adaptation of "Gates of Ivrel" by CJ Cherryh), although they do not cover the entire novel, are considered by some to be graphic novels., while others consider them as mini series.
- There are also the pilot or one-shot comics (called one-shot in English) like "Superman vs. Muhammad Ali," which was published in an extended edition in 1978. These comics usually have their own edition number and volume., usually number 1. In general, these publications are not considered graphic novels.
Step 2. See how many stories the post contains
A comic book may contain a single story, 2, or perhaps even 3 or 4, and they may all contain the same characters, as they may not.
- Some reissued collections, such as "The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told" and "The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told" are as extensive as a graphic novel. They are not graphic novels in themselves, as they contain more than one story, even if they all have the same protagonist. They can be called anthologies, since they maintain the format of prose anthologies, which are collections of short stories within the same genre and usually with a common theme.
- The collections of a single story that follow the same theme, such as "The Dark Knight Returns" from 1986, by Frank Miller (whose original publication was made in 4 mini-series) or "Watchmen" from 1987, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (originally published in 12 limited edition series), they are graphic novels because the subject line constitutes a single story. Each story of the original format published in several issues, represents a chapter within the graphic novel.
- There are some exceptions to the definition of "one story" for the graphic novel. "A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories" by Will Eisner, is a set of short stories intertwined within the same volume (it should be remembered that the term "graphic novel" was used only for the pocket editions and not for the editions previous hardcover).
Step 3. Count the pages of the comic
Comic magazines have a fixed length that ranged from 64 to 96 pages during the 1940s, but now stands at 32 pages. Graphic novels are usually longer and can be between 60 and 500 pages long. Archie Goodwin and Gil Kane's "Blackmark", published in 1971, was 119 pages long, while its sequel the following year was 117. On the other hand, fans of Dave Sim's "Cerebus" graphic novel collections called them " phone books "because of how extensive they were.
It is common for longer issues of certain comics to be published once a year. Although these annuals contain longer stories than the monthly issues, they cannot be considered graphic novels (even if they contain only one story), as the issue is identified by the word "annual" and generally has an issue number
Step 4. Look at the dimensions of the publication
Comic magazines generally come in a format that is 6.5 inches (17 cm) wide and 10.2 inches (26 cm) long. Graphic novels can come in these dimensions, with the dimensions of a paperback, in an extended edition or in magazine size.
- The pocket editions are 13.5 cm (5.3 inches) wide and 20 cm (7 to 8 inches) high.
- Those that are compendium size are 5 3/8 to 5 1/2 inches wide and 7 1/2 to 8 3/8 inches long.
Step 5. Look at the binding of the comic
Comic magazines are usually staple-bound and magazine-sized. On the other hand, graphic novels have a binding similar to that of thicker magazines and books.
However, it is important to note that some higher quality comic magazines are bound similarly to books. The individual volumes of Batman's 3-volume Elsewords mini-series, "Subterraneans," were published on high-quality paper and bound as a book, although the individual volumes cannot be considered graphic novels. The complete story, if bound in a single volume, would be considered a graphic novel
Step 6. Look at the quality of the paper
For several decades, comic magazines were published on low-quality matte finish paper. Graphic novels and anthologies published after the 1980s were usually published on much better quality paper, either with a matte or glossy finish. However, many modern comic magazines come on better quality paper, even if they are bound with staples.
Step 7. Look at the price
Graphic novels are usually more expensive than comic magazines, as they are unique publications with a limited history, printed on better quality paper and with superior binding.
Step 8. Done
- Japanese manga posts have completely different terminology. Usually, a manga is a single edition of a series, which is equivalent to the American comic magazine. The pilot or independent comics are called yomikiri, while a single volume in a series that follows the thematic line of a manga is called a tankobon, which is equivalent to a graphic novel. The volumes that contain several stories of the same line are called soshuhen.
- In Europe, what Americans call the graphic novel are known as "albums." The Corto Maltese comic collections from Italy and Asterix from France and Belgium, as well as Lieutenant Blueberry and Tintin, were published as albums for many years. Terry Nantier brought this term to the United States in 1977, where he transformed it into a "graphic album" by publishing "Racket Rumba" by French artist Loro and "The Call of the Stars" by Enki Bilali. Other terms were also used over the years, such as Daniel Clowes's "fictional cartoon" "Ice Haven" (2001), Craig Thompson's "illustrated novel" "Blankets" and the "picture novel" "It's a Good Life "by Seth.
- Some members of the comic book industry do not condone the use of the term "graphic novel", considering it a pretentious name for comic books to justify a higher price.
- Since graphic novels began to be published before there was an official term, there is no agreement as to which was the first graphic novel. There are some candidates such as the 1971 work by Archie Goodwin and Gil Kane (Blackmark) that won a Shazam Award, as well as the work by the same authors published 3 years earlier "His Name is Savage", the 1978 paperback edition of the Jack Katz's "First Kingdom" series (originally published in 1974) and even the extended version of Doctor Strange published in Strange Tales issues 130-146 during 1965 and 1966.
- A fairly common semantic argument is that novels like Charles Dickens' were originally published in periodic chapters. However, this was only for the practical purpose of securing a monthly salary for the novelist, rather than having to wait for a semi-annual or annual payment, which is the time it takes to write, edit, and complete a good novel. The format of these novels published in chapters followed a single story from beginning to end, which was fully developed before being published, even if the final publication was several months away. Watchmen was originally published in 12 chapters in magazine format, but it is definitely a novel, as Alan Moore meticulously developed the story from beginning to end before the first issue was published.