This is something that has bugged me for awhile. Not a major problem, but rather an annoying little nuisance, poking at a nerve, like some of Marvel’s renumbering. Like Fantastic Four #600 using the numbering from FF even though FF continued as a series, and now I hear that there is a Dark Avengers #175….GAH! But I digress. The minor annoyance I speak of today comes from a term that people use too often to describe things that aren’t actually it. This term is graphic novel.
It is quite a prestigious sounding term. Just think about it. Which sounds more classy, graphic novel or comic book? Graphic novel has this ring to it. A graphic novel sounds like something that could be compared to the works of Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, and other authors you’re forced to read during school. Whereas comic book sounds like something only a kid would read. You can see why people would overuse graphic novel. They want their passions to be taken seriously. But this leads to rampant misuse of the phrase.
For example, Watchmen is considered by many to be the greatest graphic novel ever written. I’m here to tell you that that is incorrect. This isn’t because Watchmen isn’t a good story, but rather because it’s not a graphic novel. It was written and published as a series of issues, and later collected into a single volume. In order for it to have been a graphic novel, it would have needed to be written and published as a single volume. The fact that it is an ongoing story is irrelevant. Things like Superman: Earth One and Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall are graphic novels. They written and published as the longer format.
So please, in the future, remember to use the correct term. And especially don’t use graphic novel because you’re ashamed to say you read comic books. Have some pride.