Comics are fairly well-known for their sequential storytelling through a combination of artwork and words. However, they also come in various formats that can significantly affect the page count, pacing, and overall price. Potential comic creators can benefit from learning about these different approaches and their inherent strengths and weaknesses when they start working on their own projects.
1. Comic Strips
Comic strips are perhaps the most classic incarnation of the medium. They are simple stories told in either three or four panels. Black and white strips can be found in daily newspapers, while the Sunday editions feature strips in color and with more elaborate sequences. Strips usually avoid the traditional comic book format, but some of the more popular works are bundled together and released in collected editions sometime after their initial publication.
2. Single Issues
Single issue comics, sometimes known as floppies, is a format that comic book shops are well known for. They are typically thin books that can range between 30 to 100 pages, although some of these pages can be advertisements. These comics can either tell a standalone story or be parts that make up a larger serialized story arc. Japan takes a different approach where monthly manga magazines publish multiple single issues for various series.
3. Collected Editions
Due to the temporary and fragile nature of comic strips and single issues, they are sometimes republished in larger collected editions. The most common collections are trade paperbacks, which usually include between five to eight single issues and usually focus on specific story arcs told throughout these issues.
Hardcovers have a thicker stock for their covers and can collect up to 12 single issues. Omnibuses are the largest collections around since they tend to focus on an entire series, a protagonist or a creator.
4. Graphic Novels
Graphic novels can initially be confused for trade paperbacks or hardcovers since they use the same cover materials and commonly have the same length. The key difference between these formats is that graphic novels tell a single continuous story. Collected editions are composed of single issues, so they are always fragmented even when they focus on a larger story.
Although some graphic novels are split into parts or chapters, writers and artists have more freedom to structure the story to their own preference.
Although comics are mostly known as either newspaper strips or floppies, there are a wide variety of formats and styles that can fit each type of story. Future comic creators can research and apply these options before sending them to a comic book printing company, which can then bring those stories to life.