A graphic novel can be defined as a book-length comic. They can be comprised of only one narrative or a collection of short individual stories. They contain sub-sequential visual art in rectangular patterns much like comic books. However, unlike comics, graphic novels aren't all typically funny. The major differences between comics and graphic novels is that they are longer, and comics can cover stories over the course of many issues while graphic novels are just one or two books (Difference Between Comic Books and Graphic Novels, knowledgenuts.com). Many graphic novels have drama, adventure, and even character development. This type of book has been growing in popularity due to its diverse format, as well as its appeal from having pictures.
First, here is the simplified history of the graphic novel. Newspapers were the reason for the initial comic strips to become popular in the 19th century. From there entire magazines for comics and superhero stories were made. Then these became book-length collections of previously published comics. Many historians say that the first actual graphic novel was A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories, written by Will Eisner and published in 1978. The novel contained adult content and was said to have had a major impact on the generation that grew up with comics in the 1940's and 1950's (Graphic Novels, ipl.org).
Graphic novels can be fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, or any other type of genre out there. However, there are four types that tend to be the most popular. The most popular type is the superhero story. Examples of these are Marvel and DC, with superheroes Batman or Spiderman. The next one is Manga, which means comic in Japanese. This style of comics are read top to bottom and right to left just like traditional Japanese. A third type is the personal narrative. These are sometimes referred to as perzines, and are autobiographical stories (What is a Graphic Novel, getgraphic.