Whether you love graphic novels or don’t have enough Manga, you need to know the difference between the two genres because you might miss it.
Over the past two decades, the world of graphic novels and manga have managed to ignore their geeky perception and are finally being recognized as the brilliant works of art that they always were. But what is the difference between these two storytelling mediums, and how do you find the one that will capture your interest?
What are graphic novels?
One of the most common mistakes people make when they hear about graphic novels is assuming they’re identical to the comics, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Although they share a very similar format on the page, graphic novels deal with darker, complex and adult themes aimed at a more sophisticated audience, while comics will, as a rule, be aimed at the younger generation with simple stories.
The most basic definition of a graphic novel is a novel told in comic book form rather than dense prose, but what they can achieve is so much more than that. The beauty of a graphic novel is that it’s the closest thing to a hybrid of movies and books, giving creators the advantage of expressing internal angst (like in a novel) and executing clear vision (like in movies and TV shows). The stories you’ll find in this format are often ones that deliberately use this hybrid of forms to tell tales that couldn’t be told in the same way in adaptations.
If you’re new to reading graphic novels, browsing through a list of the best graphic novels would be a fantastic start to your education and introduce you to the heavy hitters of the medium. One of the names you need to know in this world is Alan Moore, who is responsible for some of the most groundbreaking works ever published such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta and the infamous The Killing Joke (the ending of which is still debated at this day.) Other essential reads include The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Maus by Art Spiegelman, and The City of Ember by Jeanna DuPrau.
What are manga?
Manga isn’t a whole world apart from graphic novels, but rather a specific variant of them that comes exclusively from Japan and is defined by its distinctive style of illustration that was developed in the late 19th century. In the 2010s, manga became so popular in the United States that it actually began to outshine local talent in the graphic novel world, showing that there is something inherently interesting about manga that worth it.
If you take a look at a beginner’s guide to Manga, you’ll find that navigating this foreign form is easier than you might first think because the industry is broken down by target audience. For example, a manga tagged “Sinen” targets the adult male market, whereas if you were looking for a gift for a young child, you would search under the tag “Kodomomuke.”
A good way to start your Manga journey is to keep your finger on the pulse and check out the best-selling Manga of 2022. If you fancy a mystery thriller, then “Mystery To Iu Nakare” might be perfect for you, or for something more magical, ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ is definitely worth a read.
Graphic Novels vs. Manga
Between these two mediums, almost every type of story you could want to read is waiting for you to find them. If you’re just starting out and want to engage in content that feels a little closer to home, starting with graphic novels is your best gateway into this world. However, if you’ve ever had an interest in Japanese anime or Japanese culture in general, it’s worth taking the leap into the world of manga.