If you're intrigued about these but don't yet feel comfortable in the genre, the Horn Book has a classic article offering basic info in Q&A format. Her first couple of questions:
Q What’s the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel?
A Most simply, length. A comic and a graphic novel are told via the same format, officially called sequential art: the combination of text, panels, and images. Comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels are in this sense all the same thing, but comic books stretch a story out to about thirty pages, whereas graphic novels can be as long as six hundred pages.
Q What’s the difference between American comics and Japanese manga?
A There are a few key differences between American graphic novels and Japanese graphic novels, or manga. While superhero comics still dominate the U.S. market, in Japan there is a much wider diversity of topics, from romantic comedies to historical fiction to how-to comics, and they are published in both weekly and monthly installments. Japanese comics work with a complex language of visual signals, from character design to sound effects to common symbols. The biggest difference is obvious: Japanese comics are from another culture and were never intended for export. In some ways, Japan’s pop culture is like ours, but in many ways it’s not, and learning the secret code that opens up those stories for us is one thing that makes manga so appealing to American readers.
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