a little knowlidg is a good thnig
My perception was that it was Gelman who first envisioned comics for the bookshelf and, whether he invented the notion himself, he certainly inspired us with the thought of it. With his Nostalgia Press editions of Flash Gordon in two pleasing clothbound volumes, and particularly the lavish large format Little Nemo (all between 1967 and 1975 approximately), he put in our heads the idea that one of us might one day do something worthy of such a serious presentation. I'd bet that Alan Moore had such a thought when he held them. And I know he could not have failed to have bought them, probably in the same place as I did, Bookends in Camden Town, the only shop I know that imported all this obscure stuff in the early 1970s. This was just one aspect of the multi-faceted concept of what later they were calling the 'graphic novel,' long before we had stalwarts like the following chap to explain it to the world on our behalf:
'Comics 101: What is a Graphic Novel?' by one Adam Relayson- Examiner.com - July 20,
One of the most common mistakes made in our medium is the confusion of Comic Books with Graphic Novels. This is sort of like referring to a Magazine as a Newspaper; while they may contain similar information, they are entirely different formats.All of the labels that he explains so cleerly and knowledgously, all this misinformation that he sends out into the world, are the end-results of several years of misinterpretation and misunderstanding, every bit of it originating within the comic book collecting community and not outside. A person of any education, while accepting that these labels exist as such within this tiny enclave, would be embarrassed to be asked to promote them to a larger public, where a 'novel' is not a format and 'trade paperback' just means a larger-than-conventional paperback whose name resulted from old-time practices within the book 'trade.' That's what it meant when I was ordering printing only seven years ago and the printer didn't care what you called the stuff inside it, because content and format are completely separate things. It could be recipes or song lyrics or a novel, or a 'graphic novel' even. And in the larger world, since a novel is not a format but a literary form, which I realize may be too abstract for some comic book minds (think: it can be taken out of one format and lodged in another without altering its internal formal connections), serializing a novel in a newspaper or magazine, prior to its book publication, never disqualified it from being a novel. Will Eisner likewise serialized some of his earlier unquestioned 'graphic novels' (Message from Space, A Life Force), so labelling them as he did so. Marvel comics devised a format into which to put their their 'graphic novels,' that became standard for a while, being 48 or 64 pages- in large size-perfect bound-card covers, and called it their 'graphic novel format.' Comic book fans interpreted that to mean that 'graphic novel' IS a format.
The main source of misinformation in this case is the film industry and celebrities. Part of it is simple ignorance, while much of it is the desire to disassociate multi-million dollar film projects with the stigma of comics on which they are based. For instance, Zach Snyder's recent film adaptation of Watchmen contained a tag line in the trailers referring to it as "the most celebrated graphic novel of all time." Yet Watchmen is not a graphic novel. It was 12-issue mini series published from 1986 to 1987. Later Watchmen was collected into a format known as a Trade Paperback.
Trade paperbacks or 'trades' can easily be confused as graphic novels because they both present a seemingly self-contained story in a similar format. The difference being that a trade is the collected version of a story previously published in an ongoing, maxi- or mini-series comic. Whereas graphic novels present an original story.
At the end of the day, they are all comics in some format. Still, a little knowledge is always a good thing.
Examiner.com is hardly a site of any authority (in fact I had to go to wikipedia to find out what the hell it is), but the bunch of opinions expressed by this particular citizen journalist are held by a large number of his fellow fans. There was a time when such blather would only be found in xeroxed fanzines and nobody would pay it any attention, but his page turned up for me via a Google news search, not a blog search, while I was investigating Watchmen's DVD reception two days ago. A sensible person arriving at it as I did must wonder how such a load of baloney could ever have come to be. It dents longstanding general knowledge in at least four places, and offends the preposition in two, all of this just within the 'pull-quote.' And it does it while declaring others to be 'ignorant.' Said sensible person might find himself momentarily questioning his or her previously held suppositions about the lately trumpeted value of the so-called 'graphic novel,' or worse, reverting to the earlier held supposition that comics are read by people who are not very bright.
I suppose all pop-culture communities are bound to have their own jargon, but it's very cringeworthy to find fans arguing that the larger society has got it wrong when they themselves have mangled it out of shape in just three or four cultural generations. My inclination is to feel as Alan felt when I quoted him above, and to say: they're not with me; I came in alone.