I had an interesting time explaining the term "graphic novel" to two friends over lunch the other day. Neither had had heard the term prior to the buzz around the Watchmen movie and neither knew that there were novel length books told in comic book format.
"But Watchmen isn't really a graphic novel," I added. "It was originally published as individual issues. It's a comic book that's been collected in a volume."
"All the articles and reviews are saying it's a graphic novel," friend A pointed out.
I shrugged. "Yeah, well, everyone has delusions of grandeur. I love it, but it's a comic."
At the time, it seemed like a fair analysis. After all, there are several collected volumes of Strangers in Paradise and no one calls them graphic novels. Topping 500 pages, Craig Thompson's Blankets is undoubtedly a graphic novel but is Watchmen, a book that was released in chunks and only latter known as a single book?
Further muddying the waters are classic authors - like Dickens - who published in serial format.
What are your thoughts? Is Watchmen a graphic novel or a comic? Is (as my comic obsessed boyfriend maintains) the whole term "graphic novel" just plain silly to begin with.