Graphic novels

a Guide to Graphic novels

The structure of graphic novels

  Taken out of "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi

Term Definition
Panel A framed image or a single drawing. A panel can also be borderless. 
Gutter A space between the panels. It allows the reader to fill in the blanks and imagine what happens between the panels. 
Voice over A hard line on top or bottom of the panel with a writer's note. This way narrators have a possibility to speak directly to the readers.
Speech bubble  Represent speech or thoughts of a given character. You should pay attention to their shape. If they appear as clouds, the character is thinking, if they are made out of abrupt and sharp lines, the character is shouting.

Anything that shows emotion: teardrops, exclamation or question marks, motion lines, etc...

Refer to the panel no. 2. 


Representative of an idea or a group of people.

Refer to the panel no. 3. God can be referred to as an icon.

Splash A panel that makes up the whole width of a page. If it takes up the whole page it is called a "bleed"


The layout

This panel has a background, a midground, and a foreground. The focus is concentrated on the supposed teacher and two girls, so they are the foreground. Children in the back add context - it is set in a school, so they are depicted in the background. A girl going through the entrance and the fence itself are in the midground, as they serve as a sort of transition from the front to the back, making the change between the two more subtle.

Some important concepts in graphic novels



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