If you are thinking of reading comic books and graphic novels, you should remember that there are key differences between the two. While the two may look similar, they are in fact quite different. As someone who wants to start reading them, you should really know their key differences. Here are the key differences between comic books and graphic novels.

  • What is a comic book?

A comic book is usually a part of a large serialized narrative, and is published on a regular basis. Most comic book series could last for years, even decades.

Some of the top comic book publishers such as Marvel, DC, Archie comics, Image, and Dark Horse have comic book series that have been adapted into TV shows and movies.

The very first comic books were created in the 1920’s in the form of newspaper strips. By the 1930’s though, Comic books have been converted into the single issue format that we use today.

  • What is a graphic novel?

While a graphic novel shares key characteristics with a comic book, it is still quite different. Graphic novels use a narrative form, and uses the pictures to tell a story. It is like a novel that is told in visual form. They tend to have a more complex storyline, very much like a novel.

Like a novel, a graphic novel has the key storytelling elements of a set beginning, middle, and an end.  Graphic novels are usually bound like a novel, and far sturdier than a comic book.

What are the key differences between a comic book and a graphic novel?

Now that you know the characteristics of comic books and graphic novels, it is now time to define their key differences. These differences are:

  • Comic books tend to have around 20 to 45 pages. Graphic novels on the other hand are quite longer, and could last 100 pages or more.
  • Comic books are usually published and distributed at a more frequent rate. Graphic novels are usually distributed less frequently.
  • Comic books are usually a part of a series. Graphic novels usually have a more complete narrative.
  • Comic book storylines usually last a lot longer, and could go on for months. They usually come in the form of story arcs. While graphic novels have a more complete storyline, and is usually have the key elements of a beginning, a middle part, and an end.
  • Comic books usually have advertisements in their pages. This is because comic books are serialized, and has more exposure. Graphic novels are technically novels that use visuals to tell a story, so advertisements are seldom seen in graphic novels.
  • Comic books are usually bound together with staples. This makes them less sturdy. Graphic novels are usually bound the same way as a book, and are far sturdier compared to the usual comic book. This makes them a lot thicker and heavier too.
  • Graphic novels tend to have more mature themes, and a majority of readers are adults. There are also comic books that address mature themes, but they usually cater to younger readers.
  • When it comes to formatting graphic novels usually don’t have a set size. While comic books use the 6.5 x 10 size.
  • Comic books were printed on a low-grade matte finish paper during the first few decades. However, in the past few decades comic books are now published in better quality paper. In contrast, since the 1980’s graphic novels have always been published in high-grade paper.
  • Due to the lower production cost, most comics are quite cheap. Graphic novels are a lot thicker, which increases its price by a good deal.
  • There are some comic book companies such as Archie comics that release a collection of their stories in single or double digest. These stories are not connected though. Graphics novels usually have one storyline, and will move forward to the very end of the story.


When it comes to partaking of the joys of comic books, you should know that there are different kinds. The most common designation being comic books and graphic novels. If you are going to start reading in this art form, you should know the key differences between the two. This article will point out these key differences in the most efficient way possible.