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English: Graphic novels

Books about graphic novels

What is a graphic novel?

It is difficult to provide a definition of what a graphic novel is. The 'graphic' part of the term refers to the books containing images that are sequential - on other words, the books contain comics. Confusingly, a graphic novel is not always a 'novel' and may be more similar to a short story. It may simply appear to be a novel, given the number of pages because pictures take up more space than words. A graphic novel may not always be fiction. Check the Graphic novel article in Britannica for a comparison of comics to graphic novels.

Fingeroth, D 2008The rough guide to graphic novelsRough GuidesNew York.

What is Manga?
'A style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, typically aimed at adults as well as children'. (Oxford dictionaries)

Genres found in graphic novels

Like novels, graphic novels can be categorised into different genres. These include:

Superheroes - Heroes such as Batman and Superman emerged in the 1930s and since then, a growing number of graphic novels about super heroes have appeared. All superheroes have a secret identity and various super powers.

Action and Adventure - often feature good vs evil, brave heroes, exotic locations, villans and danger.

Science Fiction - includes stories ranging from space exploration, apocolyptic stories, contact with alien life, robots and concepts such as mind control and telepathy.

Fantasy - portrays fantasy relms where magic, dragons, goblins or orcs are commonplace.

Crime and mysteries - these graphic novels may be either fiction or non-fiction and feature criminals, police, detectives, mysterious murders and disappearences.

Horror - Portraying a sense of dread, these graphic novels contain supernatural heroes that fight creatures such as vampires and werewolves.

Contemporary Life - portray common issues such as romance, friendships and teen issues.

Humour - often contain humourous stories of everyday life. Some graphic novels in this genre have been adapted from animated films or TV shows such as Bugs Bunny and The Simpsons.

Nonfiction - although not as popular as fictional graphic novels, subjects covered by graphic novels may include science, religion, history and biographies.

Pawuk, M 2007, Graphic novels: a genre guide to comic books, manga and more, Libraries Unlimited, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Online Resources

Explora articles on Graphic Novels

Access full-text scholarly articles about graphic novels by logging into the Explora database and browsing their collection of graphic novel articles. 

Graphic Novel/Comic Terms and Concepts 
A good glossary of elements used in graphic novels.

Panels Gutters & Balloons 
A good glossary of key elements in comics that also applies to graphic novels.

Finding graphic novels in the Nettlefold Library

Conducting a keyword search for 'graphic novel' will retrieve some of the graphic novels held by the Library. To access all of them, browse the graphic novel section in the Library.


Recommended reads

Access lists of recommended graphic novels.