Graphic Novels Overview, Part One: Format Guide

What is a Graphic Novel

The graphic novel is a distinct literary format that employs sequential art in the form of comic-strip-style illustrations throughout a book-length work to tell a complete narrative. Unlike traditional written books, graphic novels use shorter sentences and rely heavily on images to communicate the story. The sequential art in graphic novels is not just a complement to the written text; it is the driving force behind the story. The artwork is essential to the graphic novel format, much like the importance of visuals in a children’s picture book. The artwork in graphic novels collaborates with the text to create a cohesive storytelling experience. Unlike illustrated children’s picture books that often embellish the written text, the artwork in graphic novels collaborates with the text to create a cohesive storytelling experience. Graphic novels are longer than comic books and provide a cohesive storyline within a single volume.

Graphic novels, like comics and manga, use panels to organize the narratives. These panels are often presented as boxed segments that contain scenes or parts of scenes in the story and are divided by blank space known as the “gutter.” Graphic novels also use speech and thought bubbles, emanata, and captions to tell a story to readers. Unlike most comic books and manga series, graphic novels are usually published as regular bound books. They are more likely to be standalone works, but like other novels, they can be turned into a series.

Definitions by The Graphic Library

Comic books: are serialized stories featuring comic drawings, generally following the adventures of superheroes, villains, etc. These are usually presented in a single-issue, paperback format.

Graphic Novel: A story told with sequential, illustrated panels.

Original Graphic Novel (OGN): a story published in a full-length graphic novel without being published as single-issue floppies first.

Online Resources

Books to Learn More

Awards

-Stephanie Mahar

Stephanie’s Favorites

  • Huda F Are You?
  • by Huda Fahmy
  • Publisher: Dial Books
  • Release Date: November 23, 2021
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-9
  • ISBN: 9780593324318
  • The Legend of Auntie Po
  • by Shing Yin Khor
  • Publisher: Kokila
  • Release Date: June 15, 2021
  • Reading Level: Gr. 5-9
  • ISBN: 978-0525554899
  • Squad
  • By Maggie Tokuda-Hall & Lisa Sterle
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books
  • Release Date: October 5, 2021
  • Reading Level: Gr. 9-12
  • ISBN: 978-0062943149
  • Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales
  • by Melanie Gillman
  • Publisher: Random House Graphic
  • Release Date: September 20, 2022
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-9
  • ISBN: 978-0593303184
  • Almost American Girl 
  • By Robin Ha
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray
  • Release Date: January 28, 2020
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-0062685094
  • The Magic Fish 
  • By Trung Le Nguyen
  • Publisher: Random House Graphic
  • Release Date: October 13, 2020
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-1984851598
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
  • By Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Release Date: May 7, 2019
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-1626722590
  • Mooncakes
  • By Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Release Date: October 15, 2019
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-1549303043
  • Check, Please! Book 1: # Hockey 
  • By Ngozi Ukazu 
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Release Date: September 18, 2018
  • Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
  • ISBN: 978-1250177964
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker
  • By Jen Wang
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Release Date: February 13, 2018
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-1626723634
  • Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story 
  • By Debbie Tung
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Release Date: November 7, 2017
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-1449486068
  • Nimona 
  • By N.D. Stevenson
  • Publisher: Quill Tree Books
  • Release Date: May 12, 2015
  • Reading Level: Gr. 7-12
  • ISBN: 978-0062278227

Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Boys Run the Riot, v.1 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot Cover Art

Boys Run the Riot, v.1 by Keito Gaku
Kodansha Comics / Kodansha USA
Publication Dates: May 25, 2021
ISBN: 9781646512485

Ryo spends his days at school and at home without letting anyone know that he is transgender. In his free time, it is only the clothes he wears that make him feel like his true self. When Jin—a new cisgender student who has to repeat the grade Ryo is in—runs into him at a clothing shop, they find that they both have the desire to wear clothes that reflect themselves. Ryo confides in Jin about his gender identity, and the two decide to start their own clothes business with Ryo designing and Jin marketing. Rounding out the group is cisgender classmate Itsuka, who is bullied for his interest in photography. The three work together to create a business that makes clothes that defy people’s assumptions about them. 

Continue reading Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Boys Run the Riot, v.1 by Keito Gaku