So, for ease of reference, here's a boiled down version of my conclusions last essay:
(1) The literary genre called "the romance" roughly descends from that of the verse epic. Either one can manifest examples that are tightly plotted, but they tend to take "the long view," allowing for a cosmic scope of things. Both possess what Northrop Frye termed a "subjective intensity" (though he was speaking only of literary romances of the post-industrial age).
(2) The idea of "the novel," which *may* have originally connoted a short prose work, expanded to include any sort of prose work. Thus even long, rambling works of great scope-- I'd cite as examples MOBY DICK and LES MISERABLES-- were termed novels.
(3) As literary novels became increasingly associated with verisimilitude, arguably the so-called "subliterary" works of popular culture began to explore much of the material that once dominated the literary genre of the romance. Enthusiasts of one emerging genre of popular fiction, which we now call science fiction, even co-opted the term "romance," referring to many works of Verne and Wells as "scientific romances."
(4) Just as genre fiction began to expand its horizons in the early 20th century, new media, such as the comic-strip medium, followed suit. Thus the gag strips that dominated most of the early 20th century gave way to "story-strips," many of which were dominated by one kind of melodrama or another, be it the social melodrama of 1924's LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE or the freewheeling adventures of WASH TUBBS (which began in 1924 as a gag-strip but altered its course to that of adventure in 1929).