Graphic novels at stores like Borders.com and BookCloseouts.com have a rich history starting in comics and leading up to current works of art that tell tales. Readers of every age can enjoy some form of this type of literature. Understanding the history and evolution of the graphic novel will help you appreciate the artistic stories even more. Here’s a look at where this was born and how it has grown through the decades.

Early Beginnings

The first graphic novel or story is debatable. Some historians link early tapestries or caves drawings to these tales, while others say origins formed hundreds of years later. What is not debated is the first western accepted graphic novel. Penned by William Blake (1757-1826), many experts consider works like “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” to be the first graphic novel. The first American comic tale is credited to have been written by Swiss artist RodolpheTopffer when his comic “The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck” was translated to English in 1837.

The Next Era

The next major development happened between the 1920’s and 1960’s. A rival of drawn stories is credited with undisputed credit to Belgian born Frans Masereel. Masereel is best known for “Passionate Journey” (re-penned in 1985 as “Passionate Journey: A Novel in 165 Woodcuts”). The rise of Americans as graphic novelists began in the late 20’s and into the 30’s. Leaders in the American world of novels included Milt Gross (He Done Her Wrong) and female artist Virgina Lee Burton (Calico The Wonder Horse). The first recognized series was introduced in the 1940s under the name “Classics Illustrated.”

By 1950, the first novel form of graphic novels was introduced. The full length “It Rhymes With Lust” was 128 pages in length and enjoyed enough success to lead to a second unrelated novel, “The Case of the Winking Buddha.” The graphic novel era exploded in America in the 1960s. Several regular artists were producing steady works with notable progress. Leaders in this area included Gil Kane, Archie Goodwin and John Updike. The first American graphic novel, “Doctor Strange” by Steve Ditko was published in 1966.

Modern Era

Since the 1960’s, this form has taken on new story lines and has become a work of series. Major players in the comic and graphic novel world today include the iconic Marvel Comics. The form has become more common to produce under a heading such as Marval than as individual artists. Competitor DC Comics produces world known names such as the “Batman” series. Sales of graphic novels remain relevant and profitable, as exemplified by the sale of “Batman: The Dark Knight’s Return” which lasted 40 weeks on a UK best selling list.

Comics vs Graphic Novels

Though both comic books and graphic novels tell stories through pictures, there are key differences between the two. The latter tends to be bound like traditional novels as opposed to loose binding of comic books and are sold at book stores as opposed to newstands. Additionally, libraries are more likely to stock graphic novels.

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