Graphic Novels and Comics: What are Comics?
Welcome to the GVSU Libraries guide to Graphic Novels and Comics. Using the tabs above, you'll find resources to aid your research:
- "What is a Graphic Novel?" defines and explores different types of comics;
- Finding Graphic Novels and Comics in our library, in other comic collections/stores, on the web, and by publisher;
- Comic Studies Resources for research recommendations (journals, databases, books, citation guides, web sources, programs, conferences/conventions, etc.);
- Resources for Creators, for comic art technique, art programs, and hosting/creating online;
- Comics in the Classroom, for kids' reading lists, teaching books, and other educational resources;
- and Reading Lists, for must-reads and titles for particular subjects/themes
So what exactly are comics? Below are some of the most common terms for different types of comics, but these are not hard-and-fast rules - as comic creators experiment with format, style, and content, these definitions will evolve.
- Comic strips - short, single or double-strips, traditionally appearing in American newspapers (EX: Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes)
- Editorial comics - also "political cartoons," usually a single-panel with satirical bent, published commonly in news or critical publications (EX: see The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists)
- Comic books - most commonly associated with American superhero comics, but includes other genres and artistic styles; generally published in thin, color periodicals (EX: Superman, Batman, Avengers)
- Graphic novels - typically longer, more book-like than the traditional American comic book, often with more mature themes and illustration but covering a range of audiences, genres, and artistic styles (EX: MAUS, The Sandman, Fun Home, Smile)
- Alternative comics - also known as "independent," "underground," or "comix," a response to mainstream superhero comics, covering a wide range of genres and artistic styles; can be independently- or self-published (EX: Jimmy Corrigan, Blankets)
- Manga - Japanese comics intended for that cultural audience, generally published in longer, black-and-white magazines, read in the east Asian style right to left (starting from the "back" of the book), some available in English translation (EX: Naruto, Deathnote, Fruits Basket)
- Bande dessinee - French for "drawn strips," French/Belgian comics intended for that cultural audience, generally published as hard-cover albums, some available in English translation (EX: Tin Tin, Asterix, The Smurfs)
- Web comics - comics archived and available on the web; commonly short installments published regularly like a blog (EX: Hark! A Vagrant, Questionable Content)
This guide was developed by Amanda Palomino as part of her summer library internship in 2015.