Graphic Novels or Comic Books or both?

Blog on the difference between Graphic Novels and Comic Books

Reading for pleasure or leisure reading, aka recreational reading, may or may not have a purpose, but it certainly has become a significant activity for bonding between young children and their parents in the present times. Like everything that has changed with the times that we live in, literature too has taken various forms to cater to different tastes & palettes and to accommodate the decreasing attention spans due to paucity of time.

While many parents are still hesitant to let their children decide on what to pick up for their recreational read time, some others are allowing comic books and graphic novels to encourage reading and reap the benefits of this unique way of learning. My own experience says – both are great!

Both comic books and graphic novels are stepping stones for developing skills like patience, empathy, problem-solving, and emotional stability in children. These are also great for teaching values like honesty, loyalty, friendship and love, everything that we expected a reading habit and the conventional literature to do. Let us discuss the comic books and graphic novels among the various options available.

Most people are still confused about which is a better pick – comic books or graphic novels? Are you too?

Well, then read on to understand what separates the two wonderful forms of literature. I hope you not only find your answers but are better informed to make considered choices.

What are Comic Books?

Comics are short stories, also called periodicals, focusing on a particular incident or adventure from a story. They are expressed through illustrations and text bubbles (speech bubbles). Comics are sequential excerpts from a larger narrative published in parts throughout a year or sometimes decades. They are issued weekly or monthly and in many formats. Most popular are comic books, comic strips, newspaper strips, webcomics and caricatures.

Comic books gained a mainstream in the 1930s with the release of Action Comics. DC Comics and Marvel Comics are the largest comic books production industries. They produce science fiction books based on superpowers and superheroes. Marvel Comics has released approximately 37,000 comics since it was established in 1939. Even though Marvel and DC are most famous and demanded, there are many other independent comic publications.

What are Comic Books? Comic Books are short stories focusing on a particular incident or adventure expressed through illustrations and speech bubbles.

Here are a few Comic Books suggestions for young readers:

  • Toon Books Publication. Only publication with an age-based variety of comics (Age: 6+ years)
  • Angry Birds Comics: Sky High by various authors (Age: 6+ years)
  • All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson (Age: 8+ years)
  • Super-Man, DC Comics (Age: 9+)
  • Avengers, Marvel Comics (Age: 10+)

What are Graphic Novels?

Graphic novels, like comics, comprise both illustrations and text. However, graphic novels are complete stories with all the elements of novels, i.e., theme, plot, characters, conflict, resolution, setting and style. The story is either narrated in one book or through a series of 2 – 3 books.

Graphic novels are more complex and substantial. They always have elaborate character development, personal journeys’ and thematic messages. Sometimes, a series of comic books are combined to create a graphic novel.

The first graphic novel, A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories by Will Eisner, published in 1978, was an adult novel. Later after it, graphic novels for kids became popular.

What are Graphic Novels? Graphic Novels are complete stories with all elements of a novel with a substantial focus on character development expressed through illustrations and text.

Here are a few Graphic Novel suggestions for young readers:

  • Narwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton (Age: 5+)
  • Unicorn Dairies by Rebecca Elliott (Age: 6+)
  • Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel (Age: 6+)
  • Little Indians: Stories from Across the Country by Pika Nani (Age: 9+)

Difference between Comic Books and Graphic Novels:

Difference between Comic Books and Graphic Novels


Comic books and graphic novels are the most effective tools that help children identify sounds (onomatopoeia – e.g. ouch, sizzle, pitter-patter, oink, etc.), words, and language. It helps them develop early literacy skills and expands their vocabulary. Graphics support the meaning of words, and comics help to clarify their meaning.

Graphic Novels give kids the extra help they need to get through a text. They are especially appealing to children. The combination of text and illustration gives context to stories kids might not otherwise understand. Graphic novels are engaging and are of great quality. Graphic novels sometimes can be overwhelming. As parents, you can let your young ones decide when they want to move from comics to graphic novels.

Above all, be it comic books or graphic novels – both are excellent means to learn and grow. Both types of books are high in demand, not only in the younger generation but also in adults. It does not matter what children choose, as long as they continue to explore new things and grow to be exceptional little human beings.

Before I conclude this blog, I want to say that reading comic books or graphic novels is still reading, and anything that excites a child to continue turning the pages is a win-win. So, do let your child indulge in this form of reading (recreational reading with comic books and graphic novels) which is entertaining, recreational and educational, all at the same time.