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A conventional novel is a very long story with many characters and events.
Here is a quotation from a site on graphic novels: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_novel
"A graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using the comics form. The term is employed in a broad manner, encompassing non-fiction works and thematically linked short stories as well as fictional stories across a number of genres.
Graphic novels are typically bound in longer and more durable formats than familiar comic magazines, using the same materials and methods as printed books, and are generally sold in bookstores and specialty comic book shops rather than at newsstands."