History of Graphic Novel

Graphic Novel has a long, and interesting history. As we know, people have been telling stories through illustration for very long time. The exact definition of graphic novel and the origins are open to discussion. We may predict how Ancient Egyptians and other civilizations used hieroglyphs, illustrations to communicate each other and for record managements. The purposes of the drawings were to allow working class and other popularities to send and receive the messages without knowing the language.

superman comic stripAs the technology developed, the machines were able to mass-produce everything in short period of time which lead for people to have more free time. During their leisure time, people started to read the newspaper comic strip. Comic strip became popular and sold a lot of newspapers. Max Gaines,1934, have began to arranged little full-color magazines of only newspaper comic strip and sold in droves, stores and newsstands. These new style book, comic books, became so popular, there were no enough comic strips. The longer version of comic strip over several pages were created and built into the comic strip.  In 1937, the comic book stepped out from the comic strip by creation of Super-man. Superman brought the comic book of its first original breakout character but also in a genre that wasn’t seen in anywhere else which it affect on the culture a lot.


While both American and European adventure comic strips had a long story lines, the European strips were being collected into book volumes. These books were kept in print, where the American comic books were short lived. The tales of Belgian hero, Tintin, has been reprinted by many generations and these reprinted albums became important than the original newspaper or magazine printings. Cigars of the Pharaoh and The Blue Lotus form one two-part adventure from The Tintin albums are considered as a turning point in the Tintin series. American comic creators wanted the respect that the European cartoonists were getting and to present their work in aesthetically appealing condition, to tell full stories, and to get the sales;however, all of these took long time for these wishes to come true.

American Graphic Novel Revolution!

In the 1970s, the term “Graphic Novel” began to appear in American comic book circles. The comics historians argued to determined which is the first one that truly qualifies as being called a graphic novel. With many arguments, there are one novel that all the comics historians agreed upon, “A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories“,which were created by Will Eisner in 1978. Will Eisner were in his sixties when the book was published, and he had been working on comics form over four decades. He created a comic book insert for newspapers featuring his detective superhero The Spirit in the 1940s.

Graphic Novels were always the next hit-item but not the current. It had the slow growth and when The New York Times featured the graphic novel in their newspaper, it finally made it to the top. It was graphic novel adaptation of the movie, Alien, by a master writer Archie Goodwin and with artist named Walter Simonson. Since then, many of the publishers started to putting out more graphic novels, including movie, science fiction novel adaptations.

Marvel Comics and DC Comics, the major superhero comics publishers, announced graphic novel lines. The first graphic novel released by Marvel was introduced by  killing off one of their characters from The Death of Captain Marvel and announced headline as “Death of Captain Marvel Delayed Due to Accident” to attract people into their new lines.

Most notable collections are:

  1. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
  2. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  3. ElfQuest by Wendy and Richard Pini.

The Title Wave

As the 20th century faded away and 21st century zoomed into place, the changes within the graphic novel had been arise.

  • Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series became a hit in the bookstores, selling far more copies collected as graphic novels than it had sold in comic book form. This led the color comics publishers to start design more comics with the book collections.
  • Lots of comics were turned into movies, for example, X-Men and Spider-Man. Mainstreaming bookstores wanted to carry graphic novels related to these films, as well as the graphic novels that may become next hollywood hit.
  • Manga, Japanese comics, became popular with people who weren’t interested in American comics.

Graphic Novels , Today

In 2002, American consumers purchased approximately $100 million on original graphic novels and book collections of comic books. Graphic novels are now shipped to foreign countries, translated into other languages, and often generated additional money from being licensed to Hollywood.

The Future Market

Graphic novels are getting more popular even though the sales of the most books are shrinking. As the graphic novel became the standard part of pop culture, they are investing new and varied venues. It would be possible to see graphic novels in CD-ROM and sell in video stores.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s