I posted this on Reddit but figured it would be good here. It’s about my issue with the term “graphic novel”
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I just don’t like the term “graphic novel” when it refers to comics in the general sense.
When a movie or tv show adapts a comic, you see “based on the graphic novel by” or “based on the acclaimed graphic novel” and that always rubbed me the wrong way. It took a term that was reserved for thick comics that told one original story (what we now know as original graphic novels or “OGNs”) and became this corporate buzzword because some executive thought the words “comic book”, “mini-series”, “maxi-series” was either too outlandish, not marketable or they were embarrassed of what they were adapting. It’s kind of like when we got saddled with “sports entertainment” for professional wrestling. They have no problem making money off of something but don’t like calling it what it is.
You see people called The Dark Knight Returns a “graphic novel” when it was a four issue mini-series. You’ll probably see the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths animated movie tout it’s based on the “graphic novel” when it’s really based on the twelve issue maxi-series. Collected editions are “graphic novels” when they’re really trade paperbacks (omnibus and absolute editions not withstanding).
There were original graphic novels back in the day, usually referring to a single story sold all at once in a thick volume. It wasn’t a reprint, it’s how the story was published. THAT’S a graphic novel!
I remember a scene in Lost Boys: The Thirst when one of the characters works in a comic shop and this rude guy comes in asking where the graphic novels are. She tells the customer they sell comics here. The customer aghast says he only reads graphic novels. A little exaggerated but it made a good point about how the term has permeated the landscape and the pretentious nature that comes with it: you can gladly read a graphic novel out in public and it’s an accepted form of art. If you read the same thing but call it a comic book, it’s looked down on.
It is a term used by people embarrassed to say they read comic books.
Is The Green Mile a novel or a miniseries? What about Oliver Twist, which was published across 24 issues of Bentley’s Miscellany in the late 1830s?
The distinction for me would be this: was it a single work that was published serially with the intent of publishing it together in the future?
Good point. Oliver twist is not a novel. And War and Peace certainly is not.
I think Green Mile would be classified as a novella.
I think the proper term is periodical.
I think because of pop culture, when I hear “periodical” I think of someone holding a newspaper with their glasses down the bridge of their nose lol
What bothers me more than graphic novel is the created by credit. It should be adapted by.
Arrow (which they were afraid to call Green Arrow) was not created by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg. Green Arrow was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp.
I also think that creators shouldn’t work on properties they don’t understand or are ashamed of. If you’re ashamed because you’re working on a comic book property do something else.
When I hear the phrase “graphic novel,” I think comic book. It doesn’t bother me as it does open the door for people who look doen their nose at “comics.” It allows them to see the beauty of what we have known existed for decades. The Book of Magic, Watchmen, Sandman–they are comic books. As a certain documentary said, when you put the best story tellers with the best artists–you get a comic.
It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, only because people get more confused when I use terms like “volumes” and “single issues”. I don’t like to collect comics in single issues every week. I like for all of the issues to come out and I go to the “graphic novel” section at the bookstore, and I get the full story which says “volume” on the cover, and on the back it tells you in the description which issues it contains. This is how I read not only classic stories like Gotham City Sirens, but it’s also how I kept up with ongoing series like Harley Quinn and Red Hood. But even then… graphic novel wraps up this explanation into two simple words, and I’ve learned to let it go.
That’s an excellent point about the credit!
Is The Killing Joke a graphic novella?
I’ve never heard anyone calle a graphic novel a “graphic novella” instead. Novella has always been associated with non-comic book fiction works.
I go a little back and forth regarding this whole “graphic novel in place of comic book” topic, but I’m mainly OK with it. We can take solace in the fact that this medium is slowly taking up more and more pop culture. But on a more serious note, most modern comics are written and sold as multi-part stories collected in trade collections anyway. Maybe this conversation would be different if comics were still written to usually tell single stories for every individual issue
I think I’d equate that to a “prestige format”, kind of like what they labeled one shots or 80-page giants as. Of course it is one story presented all at once. I guess it’s one the border of prestige format and graphic novel. I want to lean towards prestige format issue because of the length but I think for that one in particular you could make the case for calling that one a graphic novel.
Please sir, I want more, why isn’t Oliver Twist isn’t a novel? It is too me.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I called the comic in one big book cause it’s like a novel side story, like Batman: The Long Halloween.
I believe MatthewHecht is referring to the fact that Oliver Twist wasn’t originally published as a novel, but as serial fiction. It was only later collected into a single book.
Myself The Long Halloween is not a novel. It is a comic book
The term “OGN,” which stands for “Original Graphic Novel,” implies the existence of “Unoriginal Graphic Novels,” which would be anything in the same format of previously published material.
Therefore, I believe any bound collection of comics with a spine can be called a graphic novel.
I was just pointing out that The Killing Joke is slightly too short to be a graphic novel. Compare Batman’s first true graphic novel, Mike Barr’s Son of the Demon. It’s about 25 pages longer than The Killing Joke. Meanwhile, Batman Special #1 (also by Barr) is the same length as The Killing Joke, and it’s not called a graphic novel.