Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Coward/Criminal

Date: 04 Jun 2007

Mike wrote:

"Since I'm an old geezer I've been confused about the distinction, if any, between what we used to call 'comic books' versus what today are called 'graphic novels.'"

Graphic novels, largely pioneered by Will Eisner of Spirit fame, began as a longer, single shot form of graphic storytelling. They afforded authors/artists the opportunity to explore more serious, more adult themes than comic books, which still carried the stigma (and Comic Code Authority seal) of being for kids. In other words, they were long form comics for grown ups. With the (long since imploded) independent comic boom, these values trckled down into regular comics, eventually leading the majors to set up alternative, more adult lines of comics like DC's Vertigo.

While original graphic novels are still being written (for instance, Eisner continured producing them until his death), the distinction between comics and graphic novels has become at least partly, if not largely, a matter of marketing and presentation. For instance, in this case, Coward is a perfect bound (has a spine) trade paperback graphic novel that collects the first five issues of the comic book Criminal. Graphic novels have a continuing shelf life and are available in chain bookstores, whereas comic books generally have the short shelf life of a periodical, especially outside of comic book shops (which sometimes hang on to past issues).


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