Comic Books vs. Graphic Novels: Are They Different?

Comic Books and Graphic Novels: Is There A Difference?

Growing up I often heard the terms comic books and graphic novels used in conjunction. Unfortunately, I never asked myself why that was so. At least not at the time anyway. Now that I’m older and have a reasonable grasp on the subject, I found myself wondering, are they really the same or are they different?  Well, after some time I came to the conclusion comic books and graphic novels are in fact very different from one another. And there is a lot to suggest it.

Comic Books

comic book series - many issues for one story
you’re gonna be waiting a while for the thrilling conclusion

Firstly, let’s talk about comic books. They are a medium of storytelling that employs images and dialogue to tell a story to the reader. The main draw here is that they can tell stories over a number of different issues spanning years and even decades of storytelling. Comic books usually come out on a weekly basis or, more commonly, on a monthly basis. This actually makes it so that I—or anyone else really—have to commit to a single series or character for a long time in order to get any closure on the story. Comic books can also use this to tell stories in parts, which can take time to tell and make waiting an inevitability.


Graphic Novels

Graphic novels - usually one story per book
published in novel-sized chunks rather than monthly installments

Now, graphic novels and comic books do share some similarities. They both use images and dialogue to tell their stories, but there is a bigger and deeper-rooted difference in graphic novels. Specifically, graphic novels are in fact just like novels. They usually tell their story over the course of a single book and tell their story in one go (unless of course, there is a series of graphic novels). This removes the element of waiting and makes it so that we can enjoy them at once rather than waiting for a continuation of the same story (again, unless its a series of novels). 




With that being said, the two mediums have shared attributes. However, that doesn’t mean both of them can’t be enjoyed together. There are people who prefer comic books and people who prefer graphic novels. But personally, I love them both and I’m certain that they’ll continue to be my favorite storytelling media.

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