A brief primer on the “graphic novel” from Jessica Abel. A light-hearted look at what makes a comic a comic. Not specifically about webcomics but certainly raising some good points about the medium generally. (She even includes the McCloudian “container” metaphor!)
Interesting article. Personally, I refer to them as GNIPs, Graphic Novels in Progress, since normally you get an entire Graphic Novel at once,.. but with a webcomic can only post a little bit a day. 😉
I’m not sure if “novel” is meaningful anymore, especially in comics (where collections of disparate work are sometimes referred to as “graphic novels.”)
There’s long stories, and short stories. And medium-length stories. And serials. And strips.
In some ways, categorizing things pins them down too much and makes innovation difficult. For example, what is the name of what “When I Am King” is? When it was updating, it was kind of like a strip. Now that it’s finished, it’s kind of like a graphic novel. But it’s not really like either of these. Do we want to give it a category name? If so, does that mean we’ll just get a bunch of people coming up with something just like “When I Am King” and not innovating on their own? Or not? Likewise, what’s the word for what John Barber and Brendan Cahill are doing? Sliding Panels? I’ve seen a lot of people referring to them lately as “Flash Comics,” but naming it after the technology is problematic, since there are very different approaches used for comics made in Flash — from Kung Fool, which only really uses the vector-based functionality, to make the strip stretch to fill the whole screen no matter what the monitor resolution, all the way through to the mini-movies of Broken Saints — neither of which is quite like what John and Brendan are doing.
Hmmm, but there is a difference between a collection of comic strips and a graphic novel. Although it IS kind of silly to divide them up. A comic strip collection is like Calvin and Hobbes. I would hardly call a C&H book, no matter how big, a graphic novel. Why? Because with Calvin and Hobbes, you don’t need a lot of background to follow the strips individually. Now,.. let’s say, a borderline comic strip that when collected makes complete story arcs, Sluggy Freelance, THAT is a graphic novel. You can’t really jump in the middle, have to read them from the beginning. In relation to online comic strips, it seems there’s more ability to do a graphic novel/serial storyline than a regular newspaper due to one thing: The ability to access a complete archive immediately.
I’m not a hundred percent sure about it, but it seems that most webcomics tend to at least have short serials over single strip or week long arcs. I think that made sense. Not sure, .. headache is looming. 🙂
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