What are Graphic Novels?

A graphic novel (GN) is a long-form comic book, usually with lengthy and complex storylines, and often aimed at more mature audiences. The term can also encompass a short story collection, or collected issues of previously published comic books republished in a single large volume.

Comics work created and published as a single narrative, without prior appearance in magazines, comic books or newspapers, are called original graphic novels (OGN).

The evolving term “graphic novel” is not strictly defined, and is sometimes used, controversially, to imply subjective distinctions in artistic quality between graphic novels and other kinds of comics. It is commonly used to disassociate works from the juvenile or humorous connotations of the terms “comics” and “comic book”, implying that the work is more serious, mature, or literary than traditional comics. Following this reasoning, the French term “Bande Dessinée” is occasionally applied, by art historians and others schooled in fine arts, to dissociate comic books in the fine-art tradition from those of popular entertainment.

In the publishing trade, the term is sometimes extended to material that would not be considered a novel if produced in another medium. Collections of comic books that do not form a continuous story, anthologies or collections of loosely related pieces, and even non-fiction are stocked by libraries and bookstores as “graphic novels” (similar to the manner in which dramatic stories are included in “comic” books).

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