What is a Graphic Novel?

It is a narrative work in the story that uses sequential art in either an experimental design or in traditional comics format with lengthy, complex storyline similar to novels. For example, the pictures are arranged on the page in sequential panels, while the words are often presented in a bubbles (for dialogue) or text boxes (for narration). The dictionary definition is “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and presented as a book”. Graphic novels have become as a growing segment of book publishing, and are accepted by librarians and educators as mainstream literature for children and young adults. Graphic novels are typically popular with kids and young adults because it increases the reading comprehension and vocabulary of the reader. It also provide an approach to reading that reflects multimedia nature of today’s technology-centric culture. It has two different medium-images and text, which is a whole new way to read.


It covers from non-fiction works and linked short stories to fictional stories in many different genres from comic short story anthologies and in some cases bound collections of previously published comic-book series. The Graphic Novel means a medium, not a genre. Examples are:

Super Hero – graphic novel generally has a protagonists who has unnatural and augmented abilities. Usually the story is established by how the main supernatural character saves the day. A popular super hero is Spider-Man, who gained his superior powers as a result of a radioactive spider biting him. Both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men graphic novels try to emphasize teamwork to some degree, where the characters often have personal agendas.

The examples of super hero fictions are Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Captain Atom, Kryptonite, Superman, Incredible Hulk Manga, Death of Superman, Watchmen and etc.

Manga Many manga are monthly or weekly collections of different popular series and do not follow a complete story arc. By definition, it means “with images”, ad is the Japanese word for comics or cartoons. It is known as their cheaply made forms and are meant for disposal, with colorful covers but filled with mainly black and white illustrations. The massive popularity of manga lead to the popular genre of film, anime, which has similar themes and art styles.

The examples of manga are Metropolis, Cowboy Bebop, and Ghost in the Shell. 

*Check out our Resources section for recommended lists of graphic novels*


Graphic Novels are like printed books, it uses same materials and methods as those printed book and are more durable and longer in length than comic magazines that are sold in newsstands. These graphic novels are desirable materials for libraries because it attracts various age groups.

Graphic Novel vs. Comics 

Graphic Novel: 

1. An entire story bound and published in a single release
2. Have a complete story and are hardbound into a book.
3. Are like comics but are more episodic than the average paperback novel and have ‘self-contain’ stories
4. Watchmen and V for Vendetta are examples of Graphic Novel.


1. A short installment of a larger story released at regular intervals
2. “The arrangement of pictures or images and words to narrate a story or dramatize an idea”
3. Usually an ongoing series
4. Have stories that can run into even hundreds of issues
5. American comics writer, Bill Eisner, called comics as sequential art.
6. Come into several formats from very short panel cartoon like the newspapers to lengthy graphic novels.


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