BTT: Graphic

– Do you read graphic novels/comics? Why do/don’t you enjoy them?
– How would you describe the difference between “graphic novel” and “comic”? Is there a difference at all?
– Say you have a friend who’s never encountered graphic novels. Recommend some titles you consider landmark/”canonical”.

The term graphic novel was introduced to me in a quite different way as opposed to the regular readers of western comics, though the idea is practically the same. My introduction was through Japanese comics, as a compilation of a series of issues then released as one volume.

I learned later that some western graphic novels were like that, while most were created for specific graphic novel release.

Obviously, that meant that I do read graphic novels, however, not very often. It’s a bit expensive for my taste and there are but a few ones that I truly like (unless it’s a manga from a favorite artist).

I don’t read much of graphic novels from American artists. As I mentioned in a comment to this (this part is a follow-up), art plays a huge part for me and I am not really attracted to much of the art styles of most American and European graphic novels. I love the Japanese styles, so I tend to gravitate towards that. I did, however, and still do, read comics from Marvel and DC, or other American/European artists. Oh, and it may surprise you to know that there are plenty of graphic novels that are under a Western label, but their artists are located here in the Philippines. You’ll find a few of them at the bottom of this post.

Difference? Nowadays I really don’t bother with the semantics, though die-hards could probably give you an idea of what makes one apart from the other. Initially though, comics are mostly light and fun reading, whereas graphic novels can carry a more mature theme like an actual novel that has only words in it.

As for recommendations, I guess the first one that’ll pop off my head is the Sandman series. Next to that would be Batman Hush, then the ever popular Neil Gaiman prose with illustrations by Charles Vess, Stardust. For Japanese comics, those who like the macabre should check out Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid’s Saga.

A few of the Japanese comics, or manga, that I currently have. The rest are in stashed in my grandparents’ house. I also have a Batman graphic novel done by a Japanese artist, Kia Asamiya.

I know a few Filipino artists as well who make their own graphic novels and have made a name for themselves in the local as well as international scene. If you care to check them out: Gerry Alanguilan, Andrew Drilon, Wilson Tortosa, Edgar Tadeo, Carlos Vergara, Jonas Diego, to name a few. Most of them I’ve met in real life and are great people as well as awesome artists.

Going around a few blogs today on this topic, I am ashamed to say that I absolutely forgot about The Adventures of Tintin! My uncle used to collect them when he was kid and since our ages aren’t too far apart, I borrowed and read them too. Hergé’s works (including that of Jo and Zette’s) are among my favorites.

A box set of Tintin at a local bookstore. If it weren’t so pricey I’d buy it.

Also, just to clarify some things, comics and graphic novels aren’t a genre, but rather a format of entertainment, if you will, like television or radio or books are. If you try reading some comics (I say comics in general, not just graphic novels), you’ll find that there’s a type of story for everyone who likes a particular genre in other media. The Japanese comic or manga industry by itself has a thousand titles ranging from occult, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, action and even game/gambling related stories. If you’d like to try your hand on some manga, you can try your local library (lucky) or check out online sources like OneManga.


  1. Graphic novels are an acquired taste, I suppose. Compared to most Japanese comics, I don’t really like most of the art of American graphic novels. The art plays a big part for me, not just the story (and I’m very picky).I don’t really pay mind to the difference, really. If I like it, then that’s it. 😀

  2. I’ll have to look out for the Japanese comics! I know I tend to prefer that style of art to western styles in video games, so it might work for comics too. thanks for the recommendation =)

  3. Meghan – I know what you mean, especially some years ago when the graphics of most Western games were less handsomer than the Japanese ones haha.JoAnn – Hope you find one that suits your taste! 😀

  4. wahh, I’m sooo jealous of the Tintin comics!! -_- and I’m gonna check your Filipino artist recommendations – I’m Pinay too! ^_^

  5. I guess whenever I can afford one. I would. I usually look at the shelves in Powerbooks Greenbelt and a bookstore (I forgot its name-somewhere in Greenbelt too) they've got tons of graphic novels that I'd like to read. The graphic novels I like ranges from dark, romantic and even explicitly erotic. I go for the story itself too and the art is a plus factor. If there is a children's illustration-style graphic novel available, I'd grab one or hopefully, make one too. ^__^ I also recommend Oliver Pulumbarit. I don't know if you're familiar of his graphic novel: Lexy, Nance & Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll.

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