'Roman graphique' (graphic novel) is a format that has prospered the most in the last years. It will be immediately apparent that the idea of novel matches that of drawn literature, and that it also derives from the quest for respectability. The French term is literally translated from the American term, and is unfortunately shrouded in considerable vagueness, while comics creators like Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, among others, reject it, judging that comics fits the bill perfectly.
In France, several publishers have applied the word 'roman' (novel) to comics since the nineteen eighties. One of them is Les Humanoïdes associés whose 'Roman graphique' (Graphic Novel_ collection included all the titles that were not part of a series.
from "The French Comics Theory Reader" by Ann Miller & Bart Beaty (Leuven University Press)