I learned the difference between comic books and graphic novels the hard way. In my youth, I accidentally called a graphic novel a comic book, in the presence of a devoted fan. Big mistake! I was subjected to a long and lengthy lecture and I hadn’t even signed up for the class. His impassioned response made such an impact on me that I even found a way to pay homage to it in my first book.
I have no intention of writing a dissertation but it never hurts to pass on a few quick pointers. First, graphic novels are issued a 13-digit International Standard Book number (ISBN) while comic books are given an (ISSN) International Standard Serial Number, which has only eight digits. Other key factors have to do with length, completion of the storyline, and format.
You may be wondering why I we’re discussing this since I have not written either one. Aside from the fact that both are exciting mediums, I was asked to discuss my favorite comics. To effectively answer the question, I wanted to validate the difference between the two genres.
As far as true comic books, I have always been a Batman fan. For that matter, I love all things Batman: movies, graphic novels, and pretty much anything else I can get my grubby little hands on. I am particularly fond of my Batman flashlight that projects the Bat Signal, but I digress.
Graphic novels, on the other hand, make it harder to pick just one. As I already mentioned there are Batman graphic novels, such as The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. Honestly, Frank Miller is amazing and I greatly admire his works. So, we could also throw in Sin City and 300. Let’s not forget The Walking Dead, which has brought a new level of respect to the genre. However, if I had to pick just one, it would definitely be Watchmen. It has everything: fully developed characters, social commentary, and plot twists galore. It’s definitely a must-read for all fans of the genre.On a side note, if you’re a little obsessive-compulsive, (like me) now that you know about ISBN and ISSN numbers, you’ll find yourself fact-checking every article you read about comic books and/or graphic novels. Just an FYI, there’s a few boo-boo’s on Wikipedia but don’t let that keep you awake into the wee hours. Sleep well.