Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

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Mr. Galt
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Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Mr. Galt » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:13 am UTC

So the other day, I was arguing with a friend about how the "Graphic Novel" section of my local bookstore is completely dominated by manga with a small amount of, in my opinion "real" graphic novels.

In my head, graphic novels are relatively shorter and have clearly defined beginnings and endings, while comic books and manga sometimes go on and on with no clear ending. Also, Graphic novels would be better in overall quality than manga or comic books, either in art, dialogue, or presentation. Basically becoming more than just a "comic" but becoming a piece of literature or art.
The only difference between manga and comics being the type of art it uses.

He argued that that wasn't the case and that graphic novels entail any type of book or story that uses a graphic representation of its characters as well as text. That "graphic novel" doesn't mean anything when it comes to a measure of quality.

So whats your take on it?
Is "Graphic Novel" a title used for the cream of the crop?
or is it more of a Genre-type classification?

I guess you could have it both ways, but that would depend on what classifies as art/literature for you personally.
Last edited by Mr. Galt on Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:08 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Jack Saladin » Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:52 am UTC

Oh yay, this horse skeleton again.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:34 pm UTC

Manga is just the Japanese word for comic book. It's a medium. It's not uncommon to find manga stories with a beginning, middle, and end. It's common, really. It's just that they may span many volumes. Graphic novel is just what you say when you want your library to carry comics.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Belial » Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:21 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote: It's not uncommon to find manga stories with a beginning, middle, and end. It's common, really. It's just that they may span many volumes.


And the same can be said of some of the absolute staples of the Graphic Novel world. Sandman? 11 volumes. Preacher? 9. In fact, I'm not even going to go on listing because 9-11 volumes seems to be the standard for really serious comics with a beginning, middle, and end.

And oddly, the same seems to be true in the Manga world. If it's not a continuous ongoing like Naruto or Bleach (compare X-men and JLA), it tends to wrap up in 10 or 12 volumes like Death Note or Drifting Classroom.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:25 pm UTC

To be fair, the number of volumes from the Big Two is entirely dependent on how the trade department feels like collecting them. Sandman could be 11 or 4, depending on which volumes you're talking about. Starman can be complete and then some in 6, or incomplete in...10?

But yeah, the point remains.

I'm admittedly not terribly familiar with much manga. Like, I've read all of Akira through the Dark Horse reprints (and *really* want to get the Marvel/Epic color hardcovers if for no other reason than that it's a fantastic example of early computer coloring) and a few of the US reprints of Dragonball Z when it was published in US comic size (that hurts to admit, too), and maybe some other stuff here and there, but that's it. I'm more aware of how the manga market works than the actual publications. I do enjoy mango though.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Mr. Galt » Mon Aug 04, 2008 6:10 pm UTC

So after a little thought I decided to read what wikipedia had on the subject, and the beginning entry for graphic novel is somewhat similar to what I put in my post.
Kind of a little creepy.

Anyway, I see the point about beginning and end. When I said it had a clear beginning and end, I wasn't talking about volumes vs none, or any specific length but more about the actual storyline. Instead of "episodes" there are chapters in a clear story arc. Sort of like a "big picture" I guess, It has a main plot with a specific purpose and in the end is resolved in some way. This is why I think the idea of a graphic novel is different from comics or manga.

*disclaimer* I never said specifically that manga (by my definition) could not be a graphic novel(by my definition). I like manga too, admittedly I haven't read a whole lot yet.

I suppose it could just be a marketing term like Alan Moore and Robin Williams say on wikipedia. Kind of a marketing term or a pseudo politically correctness.

But still I am curious about what other people think here.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 04, 2008 6:20 pm UTC

Mr. Galt wrote:Anyway, I see the point about beginning and end. When I said it had a clear beginning and end, I wasn't talking about volumes vs none, or any specific length but more about the actual storyline. Instead of "episodes" there are chapters in a clear story arc. Sort of like a "big picture" I guess, It has a main plot with a specific purpose and in the end is resolved in some way. This is why I think the idea of a graphic novel is different from comics or manga.

...What's the difference between an Episode and a Chapter? I ask because.. it sounds an awful lot like the same concept. Going back to what Belial already said, Manga and DC/Marvel style comics work about the same way - if you pick up a trade part of a larger series, you'll find a self-contained story that has branches extending to the book that came before and the one following. That's often how they get you reading more. Either you've got the protagonists at the end of it still on their original quest after having accomplished a task along the way, or you've got them where life is back to normal but there's a hint of things to come...

Or you're reading the last book and it's all tied up. Manga's the same way.. a lot of it takes place over one large overarching plot but each individual book is usually a self-contained story. Sure, knowledge of the characters helps a lot, but it's not 100% required for understanding of what's going on. Over the course of the book, some plot element gets resolved and the book finishes with either the protagonists victorious or them heading out to take on the next bit or whatever.

That's just serialized storytelling there.

But.. yeah, I pretty much agree with Mr. Moore. It's a marketing term, really. In all honesty, Graphic Novel doesn't make me think Comic, it makes me thing something akin to Sandman:Dream Hunters - page of text with a pretty painting on the opposite page, turn the page and.. page of text with a pretty painting on the opposite page. Basically, a grown-up's version of Dick & Jane or whatever.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby EmptySet » Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:55 am UTC

A graphic novel is pretty much exactly what it sounds like - that is, a story told primarily through illustrations. Like garden-variety novels, the length, quality and other aspects vary widely. It is used because many graphic novels are not what most people would think of when they hear "comic" - there is a widespread perception that comics are for children and do not deal with serious issues, which is completely untrue of many graphic novels.

Also, graphic novels are not so much a genre as a medium, in that a genre is a classification for the actual content (sci-fi, horror, crime, romance, etc.) whereas a medium concerns the manner in which it is presented (movie, prose, poem, illustration, interpretative dance, etc.)

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Melannen » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:47 am UTC

I'm writing a graphic novel.. its different from a comic/manga because its got 1 plotline, a few small story arcs that ultimately lead up to an end. The beginning is clearly defined, you get to know the characters over time, and its not all "hi! my name is Hikari! I'm a famous person and I'm only 16!".. no, you dont find out her age till later, her name isnt mentioned until page 3, and what she does is never really specified until later on. Its one book, not several books in a series. One book, it might have another book with the same characters, but its not a cliffhanger ending like most manga series, the 1st book ends with no cliffhanger... and the 2nd one will take place a couple years later.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:07 pm UTC

But how can you claim a graphic novel is inherently different from a long-form series with a beginning, middle, and end? When Dave Sim started Cerebus, he said "this series will be 300 issues long." It was 300 issues long with a beginning, middle, and end that included many smaller story arcs throughout. Is this any different from, say, Watchmen which Alan Moore said will be 12 issues long (but is considered a "graphic novel" in its collected form)? The only difference I can see is that one can be collected in a single, reasonably sized volume, and the other can't. The only real time I really see the term used properly is when you're talking an single-volume story, longer-form (say, 100 pages; enough to square-bind) printed only in a bound form. Things like Blankets or Pride of Baghdad. Fundementally, though, there's really no difference between this and something considerably longer designed to end, if many years later. It's just a longer form of story. Saying they're in any way less artistic or whatever is simply incorrect.

Ongoing serials with no intended end are a different subject with its own thread, but even with those, there's certainly cases of very artistic story arcs within a larger framework.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Jesse » Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:28 pm UTC

Are Charles Dickens works not novels even when he serialised them? For me, it's not even an important distinction. I mean, I read what I read and what I call it differs from day to day. I think any difference is either created by the marketing division, or by people who don't want to say they read comic books in case they sound childish.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:49 pm UTC

I'm just going to start calling them all Funnybooks.

As in - I have the entire Sandman funnybook collection in trades, and I've got the last 30 some odd issues of the Preacher funnybook in a longbox.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:56 pm UTC

The sad part is that most funnybooks aren't even funny. :(

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:33 pm UTC

Impulse was.

Bastards.


Moving on since now I'm derailing the thing...

Regardless of how it was originally published, if it's presented at some point in a form of the entire story together in a single/series of volumes wherein everything you need to know for that story is explained in said story - you can call it a graphic novel if you'd like.

The Sandman series would be a graphic novel.
Superman: Red Son would be a graphic novel.
X-Men: Collected Issues 250-258 would not, as it most likely has various asides inside (see issue #240! | see Spiderman #340) that keep it from being a singular story. Unless, of course, it actually just covered all the bases in those pages and didn't rely on outside help/asides/knowledge of previous issues to the point of not understanding the story without them... then you could get away with it, but it'd still be difficult.
I Hate Myself And Want To Die: The Cyclops Story would be a graphic novel.

V for Vendetta is a graphic novel. Battle Angel Alita would be a graphic novel.

So, yeah... I think excluding Manga from the category of Graphic Novel is rather.. silly. Like trying to say that Anime things aren't cartoons.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:11 pm UTC

This was posted on CBR and fits here pretty well: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page ... e&id=17623

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Mr. Galt » Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:08 pm UTC

EmptySet wrote:
Also, graphic novels are not so much a genre as a medium, in that a genre is a classification for the actual content (sci-fi, horror, crime, romance, etc.) whereas a medium concerns the manner in which it is presented (movie, prose, poem, illustration, interpretative dance, etc.)


Ah yes, my mistake. I get those confused sometimes and maybe thats my problem. Getting them switched around would explain my confusion at a book store, since they(mediums as well as genre) are often used for different sections.

Endless Mike wrote:This was posted on CBR and fits here pretty well: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page ... e&id=17623



Thats a great article, and answered many of my questions. Thanks much! :D

(btw, deleting the poll, since it doesnt really serve any purpose.)

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby cyberthor » Sat Aug 09, 2008 8:21 pm UTC

I like both comics and graphic novels

EDIT: sorry i was at a mix-up of words :oops:
Last edited by cyberthor on Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:03 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 11, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

cyberthor wrote:i really like the Alan Moore graphic novels such as Watchmen. Other than that I like both comics and graphic novels :D

Watchmen is a comic book.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:34 am UTC

cyberthor wrote:i really like the Alan Moore graphic novels such as Watchmen. Other than that I like both comics and graphic novels :D

A more exact answer than what Endless Mike said is...

You just said that you like comics and comics. Or that you like a thing and a marketing term used to describe the thing. I can, at this point, only assume you read nothing at all on this page.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby thecommabandit » Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:09 pm UTC

My opinion:
They're all comics. Graphic novel is just something you say if you want it to sound posh/official or you'd be embarrassed to say you're reading a comic.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby ChocloManx » Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:56 am UTC

I think it's similar to the distinction between classical and folk/popular music. A graphic novel is seen as perhaps more "serious" or "artistic" than a comic book, the same way a Beethoven symphony is regarder higher than say a Guns 'n Roses album.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Sep 22, 2008 3:46 pm UTC

ChocloManx wrote:I think it's similar to the distinction between classical and folk/popular music. A graphic novel is seen as perhaps more "serious" or "artistic" than a comic book, the same way a Beethoven symphony is regarder higher than say a Guns 'n Roses album.

If that GNR album is "Appetite for Destruction" they're dead wrong!

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Rinsaikeru » Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:44 pm UTC

Graphic Novel is just a term for a comic book with a superiority complex. :D Or rather, what you use to describe comics to someone who doesn't know anything about them. Graphic novel collection sounds somewhat less geeky maybe? :P

It's been done to death, comics are comics.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:44 am UTC

When I hear Graphic Novel there are 2 things that it must contain to qualify:

It must use graphics.
It must tell some type of narrative story.

So Calvin & Hobbes is a graphic novel in the sense that it is philosophic and shows the development of Calvin, much like a coming-of-age story. Such novels don't need an absolute plot, but a story. This is a broader category. The story of my life has no absolute plot, but does contain a number of important side-plots that together paint a portrait. You could say that it's more of a modern-art kind of interpretation, which focuses not on conventions but on the purpose and intent of art.

On the other hand, no matter how amazingly I could draw natural scenes, unless I could connect some story between them, I couldn't just bundle them and call them a graphic novel.
SecondTalon wrote:X-Men: Collected Issues 250-258 would not, as it most likely has various asides inside (see issue #240! | see Spiderman #340) that keep it from being a singular story. Unless, of course, it actually just covered all the bases in those pages and didn't rely on outside help/asides/knowledge of previous issues to the point of not understanding the story without them... then you could get away with it, but it'd still be difficult.


I disagree with this. For example, Wide Sargasso Sea was clearly a novel, even though it was based on Jane Eyre and you really couldn't fully understand the former without the latter. However, it did represent a story, just with some parts missing.

The arguments about subplots or single issues is also kind of dumb. Dickens' collected works were novels. Likewise, In Search of Lost Time is a novel, even though it has quite a few (read: like a bazillion) subplots.

So for me a graphic novel is simply a novel (tells a story) which uses graphics.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Insomnist » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:40 am UTC

Personally, I'd call a graphic novel a novel that uses graphics (i.e. Road to Perdition; the story begins and ends within one set of covers). Comics, to me, would involve most everything else, although I make a distinction between comics and manga just because of cultural differences. But I could understand a library crunching them together, since graphic novels would take up like half a shelf at max. That is, unless you've got some really incredible librarians, in which case where do you live because I'm moving in. :wink:

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Jesse » Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:34 am UTC

We finished this discussion with the term funnybooks. Everyone can get over it now.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:21 pm UTC

So when's the Doktor Sleepless collected funnybook due out?
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Jesse » Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:47 pm UTC

Now? I know he finished the first 8 issues which he labelled 'Book One', so I figured it'd be out now. Issue #9 is January, and I've had figured they'd have got the trade out before Christmas to try and get some sales.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Malice » Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:59 am UTC

I'm willing to call anything that finishes a graphic novel, but I feel that the term is only technically correct when applied to works that are conceived and carried out as a stand-alone, self-contained story. "Batman" isn't a graphic novel because it never ends; "Sandman" is a graphic novel, because it does; "Persepolis" is a graphic novel in the strictest sense of the word, because it has only existed as a book, and isn't simply a collection of separate issues of a comic series.

Most of the bookstores I visit are smart enough to give manga its own section. Crazy foreign backwards comics.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby ascendingPig » Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:29 pm UTC

I hate the term "graphic novel" so much. There are people who use it to describe, for example, Joe Sacco's journalistic work. Helloooooo! It's called a "novel"!

I kind of like one of the old terms that sort of spent a few minutes as the buzzword back when comics were becoming "serious": Album. It just seems to make so much sense. Watchmen is totally an album. It really is just a series of snapshots of a story.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby firinne » Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:56 pm UTC

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that graphic novels are a subset of comic books?

Think about it in terms of book vs. novel -- comic books don't have to be fictional, but graphic novels do. "Book" only speaks to the physical medium, while "novel" speaks to a type of structuring, involving factors such as an approximate minimal length. In fact, perhaps it might be more appropriate to speak of multivolume graphic works as graphic novel in their entirety and book as individual volumes, much as Robert Shea called the two books of Saracen a single novel (and as other text authors have also done, of course). This way, the view of a novel as a closed story arc is preserved.

Of course, there are text authors aplenty who write works called novels that don't have, say, closed story arcs. This is a definitional Nest of Vipers and I will not touch it with a ten-mile rod, so let us stick to the traditional definitions for the sake of this discussion.

Pardon any incoherence. I'm slightly blurry around the edges today.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Istrom » Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:15 am UTC

Jesse wrote:We finished this discussion with the term funnybooks. Everyone can get over it now.

Do I smell a wordfilter?

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:53 pm UTC

No. Because the current way allows us to know at a glance those that take the whole thing seriously.
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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 03, 2009 1:57 pm UTC

ascendingPig wrote:I kind of like one of the old terms that sort of spent a few minutes as the buzzword back when comics were becoming "serious": Album. It just seems to make so much sense. Watchmen is totally an album. It really is just a series of snapshots of a story.

An album is a format, not a medium or genre. Tintin is printed in albums, as are a lot of continental European comics and an occasional American comic (probably not many Japanese).

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby Hazel » Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:35 pm UTC

Here's something Neil Gaiman said on the subject that I'm very fond of:
Neil wrote:"My God, man, you don't write comics," [the editor] said. "You write graphic novels!"
He meant it as a compliment, I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who'd been informed that she wasn't actually a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening.
Last edited by Hazel on Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:42 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Graphic Novel vs Comic Book/Manga.

Postby EmptySet » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:37 am UTC

I think that's a little harsh. There is a difference between a graphic novel and a gag-a-day comic, for example. Although the editor was clearly just being pretentious in this particular case, and in any event graphic novels are a subset of comics.


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