Vancity Buzz is proud to present a brand spankin’ new comic book section! Each week we will be taking a look at a different graphic novel, discovering Vancouver’s comic book stores, and keeping you updated on the latest comic book movie buzz and trailers.
To get the ball rolling, today’s article is a quick introduction to both comic books and the difference between comics and graphic novels. Then tomorrow, look out for the first ever “Graphic Weekends”, which will highlight a great book for you to pick up and read while you bask in the sun like a cat.
Comics are usually released on a biweekly or monthly basis as a single issue. Each issue of a comic represents a small part of a full story, which is known as an arc. An arc operates within a comic book series as a start and finish to a particular story within the title. For example, the title of the comic may be Batman, and the story arc is about him fighting the Joker, and the arc itself is comprised of 16 issues. However, just because an arc finishes doesn’t mean the title follows suite. Many titles like Superman, Spiderman, and Batman have been running for decades and feature tons of different story arcs.
Here is where we draw a distinction between comics and graphic novels; comics are single issues put together under an ongoing title to create an arc, where as a graphic novel is a self contained comic or a series of comics put together to form a cohesive story with a distinct beginning and conclusion. For instance, the Watchmen graphic novel is actually a collection of 12 comic issues put together. Okay, now this is the tricky part: graphic novels can also be released for a series that is still ongoing like with The Walking Dead – which has new comics being written for the title, but the older comics (also known as back issues) have been re-released as graphic novels.
Graphic novels are put together to make it easier for readers like you and me to walk into a comic book store and buy a collection of issues from any given title simultaneously. They also save comic book readers from having to sort through huge bins of comics to find one issue in particular (or in a worst case scenario, find out they don’t have the issue that you want in stock). It is also significantly cheaper to purchase graphic novels than getting all the single issues separately, and easier to special order one book that the store doesn’t have on hand, as opposed to eight.
That being said, sometimes graphic novels are released without ever being sold as single issue comics – think of it as printing a full book as opposed to letting it out in small chunks over time. This is usually fairly rare for two reasons: first, creating a comic book is a collaborative operation that requires writers and artists to work together. Unfortunately, most writers and artists tend to have more than one project on the go and are unable to commit such a large chunk of time to a single project. The other draw of releasing single issues is that if the comic is not well received, it can be cancelled to minimize loss.
One last piece of advice before taking the plunge into graphic novel oblivion: the comic books I will be suggesting in “Graphic Weekends” will either be self contained graphic novels with a definitive start and end, or part of a larger series that has finished or is ongoing. Either way, make sure you take at a look at the spine of the comic book before you purchase it. If there is a number on it, the book is part of a larger series – as such, make sure you start with #1 or you will quickly find yourself very lost.
For those curious about pricing, the graphic novels you will encounter in “Graphic Weekends” will generally range in the $15-$40 mark.
Also, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to post underneath and I will reply as soon as I see them, or email me at [email protected].