Difference Between Graphic Novel and Comic

Graphic novel and comic are two of the terms which are familiar to us. Some people say graphic novel on behalf of comic and think it is fancy to say it. But the bitter truth is that both terms are not even synonyms and it will be a mistake to mix both these terms as well.    

The format features illustration of Graphic novels and comic is completely based on storytelling but it does not mean they are the same. There is a clear difference between graphic novels and comics. They differ in many terms such as length, presence of advertisements, story completeness, and many more. 

Graphic Novel vs Comic 

The main difference between graphic novel and comic is that a graphic novel is a story in the form of a comic strip. On the other hand, comic contains a sequence of comic strips. The graphic novel is a book that contains the whole story from the beginning to the end. Whereas comic contains only some part of the story and arrives on the schedule of weekly or monthly.  

Graphic Novel vs Comic

The graphic novel is not a genre but a format. It can be history, fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, or anything in between. It usually has stand-alone stories and more complex plots. The term ‘graphic novel’ came into in use the 1960s. It existed in the form of art from the time when our species get to know about paint.  

The comic is a magazine that tells a story with the help of sequences of drawings. The first comic was launched in 1933 in the United States. The humor comic strips were reprinted from the earlier newspaper and called a comic book. But the term comic is not only mean humor as modern comics also tell the story in many genres. 

Comparison Table Between Graphic Novel and Comic 

Parameters of ComparisonGraphic NovelComic
InterpretationA story that is published as a book but presented in the format of the comic strip.A magazine that contains the sequence of comic strips.
SizeAny sizeStandard 6.5″ x 10″ size
LengthMore extendedShorter
Advertisements Does not includesIncludes
SoldBoth booksellers and comic shopsOnly in comic shops

What is a Graphic Novel? 

A graphic novel simply means a full-length story that contains comic content and is represented in a graphical or illustrated style. It has a combination of pictures and text equally to convey a narrative. The first graphic novel was published in 1783. Namely, Lenardo and blantine which is a German stage play adaptation.  

The term ‘graphic novel’ was coined by Richard Kyle in 1964 in an essay that is based on the issue of Fanin Capa Alpha comics. In the late 1980s, this term became familiar to the public. Graphic novels have become popular in the market due to their perfect beginning, middle and end.  

There are endless categories of graphic novels. Some of the three predominant categories are given below:  

  1. Manga: Japanese comics are referred to as manga. Manga is read from right to left and top to bottom. Example- Full Metal Alchemist.  
  2. Superhero Story: It is popular among comics. These are dominated by few publishers such as DC, Darkhorse, and Marvel. Example- Batman: Dark Knight Returns.  
  3. Personal narratives (“Perzines”)- These are autobiographical stories. The author’s personal opinions, observations, and experiences are highlighted in them. Example- The Quitter.  
  4. Non-fiction- They are quite similar to Perzines. Also, great social issues are touched up with the author’s personal experience. Example- Pedro and Me. 

What is a Comic? 

A comic is a publication that contains sequential juxtaposed panels to represent the individual scene in comics art. These panels are often accompanied by written narrative and descriptive prose. Generally, word balloons contain dialogues. The term comic arose because humor comic strips were reprinted for the first comic book.  

The United States and the United Kingdom were the first to popularized comics during the 1930s. Famous Funnies was the first modern comic book that was released in 1933 in the US. It was the humor comic strips of earlier newspaper which was reprinted.  

Japan is the largest market for the comic. The United States and Canada are also comic book markets with a value of $1.09 billion (2016). Manga distributor Viz media is the largest comic publisher in the United States. Juvenile children’s fiction, manga, and superhero comics are three of the categories of the best-selling comic in the US.  

The main focus of the authors is on the orientation, panel positions, frame of the page, and size. Text (lines), characters, and balloons (speech bubbles) are three of the key elements of the comic. Several technological formulas are used to create comics such as data, metrics, directions, and axes. 

Main Differences Between Graphic Novel and Comic 

  1. A graphic novel contains a whole sequence from the beginning, middle, and end of the story. On the flip side, comics generally contain the beginning, middle, or end of a story. So, the whole plot and characters are not discovered at once.  
  2. In terms of frequency, graphic novels have a very low frequency as compared to comics. This is because comics arrive on weekly or monthly basis schedule which graphic novel lacks.  
  3. To identify graphic novels, one should look for ISBN (international standard book number) which is used with books as a 13-digit identifier. While comics have ISSN (international standard serial number) which is used with periodicals as an 8-digit number.  
  4. The main aim of graphic novels is to take its readers from the starting of the journey till the end. On the other hand, comics are part of a larger whole and do not tell the whole story in a single comic.  
  5. When it comes to maturity rate, graphics novels are for adult readers due to their often-mature themes and are not appropriate for kids. But comics are aimed towards kids or teens, although several adults also enjoy comics. 


So, it can be concluded that both graphic novels and comics use a combination of words and illustrations to tell a story. The story which it tells can be anything such as zombie apocalypse, non-fiction, a tale of a superhero, or fiction. But mixing up a graphic novel and comic will be wrong.  

Longer works are included in the graphic novel as it contains about the story from beginning to end. On the flip side, comics are serialized stories with a relatively shorter length. As graphic novel contains mature themes that’s why it is preferred to adults. But some people think comics as common and less artistic which is a huge mistake to consider. Thus, there is no competition between both of them, and they are loved by people with their preferences. 


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/40017133
  2. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED390277
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