My graphic novel for Android and iPhone

The folks are Robot Comics have completed their conversion of the comics in my CC-licensed graphic novel Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now, which adapts six of my stories for comic form. The Robot Comics editions are free and run on your Android phone and (sometimes) on the iPhone (Apple rejected the adaptation of the award-winning story Anda's Game because the scene in which a video-game orc is beheaded was "objectionable"). Many have also been translated to Spanish -- they're planning on doing the whole lot. It's all free, non-commercial, and CC licensed, natch!

Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now reaches 30,000 downloads


  1. Your comic book is NOT a graphic novel. First of all graphic novels are not just collections of short stories. Second, as Alan Moore likes to point out, “Graphic Novel” is a marketing phrase. What you’ve got there is called a “comic book” or simply, “comic”.

  2. Well, ZDepth, if Moore were completely honest he’d acknowledge that the self-conscious privileging of comic and comics (or, worse, commix, ugh) is itself a brand, marketing tool, whatever: that’s how hipsters like Clowes, Moore et al get to keep their street cred while marketing their work. Comics, graphic novels, yadda yadda: words and pictures together, how fun. There’s no purely descriptive language shorn of rhetoric, no?

    Nice graphic novel, Cory.

  3. Well, TDAVWVG, You may at least ask the obvious question of how the term novel can apply to a collection of six short stories. . .

  4. So, what nice, brief, commonly understood term do you like for “book-length, perfect-bound collection of fiction in comic form?”

  5. How about “graphic anthology?”

    Because ZDepth is right; it’s not a novel. Is anthology no longer a commonly understood term?

  6. It’s not an anthology, strictly speaking; it’s a single-author collection (at least, in some senses of authorship).

    “Graphic anthology” sounds like either a collection of short stories featuring graphic sex and violence or an anthology of graphics.

  7. Out of all the comics listed on Robot Comics, is there an order they should be read in or anything?

    I’m just not sure where the best place to start is.

  8. Except that there’s no “question,” ZDepth: not, at least, for those of us who choose to avail ourselves of dictionaries and common sense when making arguments about words and terminology.

    The OED tells us that the original sense of novel when being used of written narratives is “Any of a number of tales or stories making up a larger work; a short narrative of this type, a fable.” The later sense that we use everyday of “a long prose narrative that’s fiction” comes later.

    While the meaning of novel as “short collection” is now “historical,” in the sense that it’s not common, the everyday sense of graphic novel as “comic book, words and pictures together” works, whether you’re talking about, say, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home (one long story in book form) or Bechdel’s The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (a collection of short comics in book form): they’re both graphic novels in common parlance.

    OED (and common sense) FTW.

  9. They’re great, loved Craphound. Very convenient on the Android platform, Great job to Cory and the Robot Comics team.

  10. Loved the adaptation of Anda’s Game in this collection. Great story, and the artist did a fine job of it.

  11. It’s all free, non-commercial, and CC licensed, natch!

    So Cory, how do you earn a living?

  12. Cory @ #5: Why not use the term comic? Is it somehow wrong? WWWT?* Seriously, he’s your bud and he’s a pro comics writer. Ask him.

    *What Would Warren (Ellis) Think?

  13. @2
    So, generally, the first comic book to actually use the term “graphic novel” on its cover was Will Eisner’s A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories. This is widely credited with popularizing the use of the term “graphic novel”. It was a collection of stories featuring different characters connected only by the same setting.

    As such, you’re splitting semantic hairs which don’t really need splitting. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about calling this a graphic novel.

  14. Historic perspective: until ‘recently’ (early 20th century), the term ‘novel’ was nothing but a marketing/cultural rubric for a despised ‘lowbrow’ form of expression that the defenders of public taste refused to see as ‘literature’ — it is therefore ironic to see it used as a gateway to higher culture, blocking out emergent creative monstrosities!

  15. Kaithirwin @15

    Would you call a collection of short prose fiction a novel?

    What is wrong with calling a comic a comic? Are you worried that “comics” may not be ‘legitimate’?

    1. Given that ‘comic’ derives from comedy and ‘novel’ means a new kind of story, I’d say that novel wins the etymological day. If you’re going to pick at details, pick a little deeper.

  16. #18
    I’m not concerned with the etymological details. You all can call it want you want, but it strikes me as cheap pretension to call a collection of short stories a novel. Now if said short stories were collected in such a way to construct a “meta” novel I’d be willing to go there. But this ain’t that.

  17. Ideally, a book of comics would be a comic book, but that term’s already in use to describe comic magazines.

  18. I’m not concerned with the etymological details.

    That rather qualifies your statements concerning the usage and meaning of words, doesn’t it? Philology is a vital component of lexicography.

    From what KeithIrwin posts above, it seems certain that Eisner’s usage, the first recorded one, clearly admits of the “collection of illustrated stories” definition, as that’s what the Contract with God book is. Eisner’s own words on his usage are instructive:

    I called the president of Bantam Books in New York, who I knew had seen my work with The Spirit. Now, this was a very busy guy who didn’t have much time to speak to you. So I called him and said, ‘There’s something I want to show you, something I think is very interesting.’
    He said, ‘Yeah, well, what is it?’
    A little man in my head popped up and said, ‘For Christ’s sake, stupid, don’t tell him it’s a comic. He’ll hang up on you.’ So, I said, ‘It’s a graphic novel.’
    He said, ‘Wow! That sounds interesting. Come on up.’
    “Well, I did bring it up and he looked at it and looked at me through his reading glasses and said, ‘This is a comic book, bring it to a smaller publisher,’ which I did. . . . At the time, I thought I had invented the term, but I discovered later that some guy thought about it a few years before I used the term.

    So the ideas of PR, salesmanship, gravitas, pretentiousness, “stories aren’t a novel,” etc.–i.e., all the stuff you’re railing on about–are also there as well. But Eisner’s use, however rhetorically meretricious in origin, stuck as the term for a collection of comics in book form, and remains in usage today.

    Language is as language does, my Latin teacher used to say. You might not want to “go there,” but language will go there without you.

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