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If Graphic Novels are "Really Long Comics," what is a Really Long Webcomic?

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!)

Re: If Graphic Novels are "Really Long Comics," what is a Really

Joey Manley's picture

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.

Re: If Graphic Novels are "Really Long Comics," what is a Really

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. ;)

Re: If Graphic Novels are "Really Long Comics," what is a Really

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. :)