Marvel & DC

It’s hard to look at graphic novels without exploring Marvel and DC, possibly the two biggest producers of graphic novels in America. They both use a traditional format, set out like comic books as most of their graphic novels are compilations of the weekly comic books that they produce. Both also produce mainly Superhero comics which have a particular set of traditions in their design and storyline which could be quite limiting to anyone who wanted to try and create a graphic novel, though nevertheless proves exceptionally popular with the graphic novel and comic reading audience.


Marvel is a subsidiary of Walt Disney and is responsible for some of the best known superheroes in the world. Spiderman, Iron Man, The X-Men, Hulk, Captain America and many more are creations of Marvel comics.

This double page spread from ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ features a ‘Barack Obama-like’ character. This is a common tool used by comic book producers to try and tie the comic back the real world and make it more believable. or acceptable. In terms of layout, the page is split up by boxes that move the eye across the page, giving a pace and indicating how the comic is supposed to be read. When compared to an older comic (below) you can see that layout and sch hasn’t really changed. They use larger boxes to portray the big event with the smaller ones giving detail and setting the surroundings. Text, which helps clarify and progress the story, is dealt with through speech bubbles, often putting the reader in the mind of the hero. Often you will also get a box of text which isn’t a speech bubble. This acts as an aside to fill the reader in on information that not all the characters will know, or to help set the scene for upcoming events.


DC has a lot in common with Marvel. Like it’s rival it is mainly respnsible for superhero comics and has also produced some of the most well known superheros, such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. It is a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. DC is generally considered a little bit darker than Marvel by readers especially in the case of Batman, a hero who stalks the shadows rather than acting in the daylight.

What we see in the Batman comics is the same style of layout as in Marvel, with boxes to progress the eye across the page and add the sense of pace. The text is dealt with in the same ways as well, however, Batman has a sidekick who also acts as a way for the writers to get Batman’s ideas across to the reader. Looking at the older comics you see a more muted colour tone, or restricted colour palette. This may be due to cost or speed of printing, but it adds an interesting style of its own. In the more modern strips there is full colour, and maybe a slightly different style to the drawing in that it is more detailed. This maybe due to the facilities available and modern technology, making comic books of this standard easier and quicker to produce in order to keep up with the weekly deadlines.