Wednesday, September 19, 2007

... and what about T.P.?

Classfellow C.B. raises the important issue of Trade Paperbacks -- a industry term -- in relation to graphic novels. Her email is entirely self explanatory and, here again, is a case where engagement by the entire class is impelled.

I know we've been discussingthe differences between what makes a comic and what makes a graphic novel, but I was curious about another term. I know that comic shops make a point of also separating books into categories of comic mags and graphic novels. But they also make a point of dividing another section into TPs or trade paperbacks. What is the difference, then, between a TP and a graphic novel? I know from what I've seen that the shop puts Sandman and Batman "novels"in this section. Is it because they're from a "comic"-like background? Does this make them a higher or lower art form than graphic novels?


Kalervideo said...

Unfortunately, all the terminology is kind of nebulous and vague, so store to store does it the way they see fit.
I'd say that the difference between the two of them is one of narrative closure. Personally, I would put collected versions of any series that has ended in a cohesive way on the "graphic novel" shelf and any series that is still ongoing on the "trade paperback" shelf. So a series like Sandman, which exists in ten volumes, but has a cohesive beginning, middle, and end, a series that was not cancelled before the author had a chance to finish what he originally intended to, that's a graphic novel, albeit in several volumes. A collected volume of a series that is still ongoing, with no end in sight, with a myriad of creative voices and directions, like Batman, that's a tpb. However, the Batman book we have by Frank Miller, that's a graphic novel because it exists independent to the regular Batman series, and satisfies the criteria of closure.

Neil said...

I've always thought that the TP issue is one of functional enterprise rather than an issue of content or form. If you browse the local bookstores you'll find that most novels are released in TP form after coming out in Hardback. It would seem that the old-school Hardback to paperback process has been replaced with Hardback - TP - Paperback. It's just another way for the publishers to make a few more bucks. With Graphic Novels the process begins from the opposite direction: paperback (serial comics), TP, then Hardback.