Comics vs Graphic Novels

I read a lot of comics, graphic novels, and manga but when I hear people talk about this story telling medium most use some of the words interchangeably. So, is there a difference between comics and graphic novels or not?

First by definition all of these different words all describe the way art is used to convey a story.  A comic or comic book is generally a magazine that presents a story in an illustrated format. A graphic novel is a novel that written in the comic format which generally is longer and more self contained. Manga is technically the Japanese word for comics but is used in the west to designate comics from Japan and in the Japanese style. Most reader do know that manga is different and don’t use the word to describe other things.

In my experience, the word comic and graphic novel are used interchangeably as at this point there isn’t that much of a difference between them. I think most people use which ever word they’ve heard other people use and which ever one sound better. For instance, when talking about The Walking Dead most would say The Walking Dead comic book series and not The Walking Dead graphic novel because it sounds better. However, Saga which is printed by the same company, Image Comics, is called a graphic novel because the Saga comic book series doesn’t sound as good.

The only time that I think this doesn’t happen is when people talk about long running comics from DC, Marvel, or those in newspapers. In my experience none of these are ever called graphic novels because they are connected to a long running story that is serialized.

These are my experiences so I would love to here what other think about this topic.

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