To make it so, name it so.
If you wonder if pictures and words together is poetry comics, consider what the artist calls it. Here’s an example.
Contemporary poet Bianca Stone leaves no doubt what she’s creating are poetry comics — she calls them poetry comics, uses the URL poetrycomics.com as her homepage, and incorporates (and bends) the basic framework of classic comic books.
Her cover for Poetry Comics from the Book of Hours (Pleiades Press, 2016) echoes classic comic book covers: the callout for bonus materials, the burst (partially obscured) declaring “Is your daughter a poet?” and our superhero front and center — saving a victim, bursting out of the darkness.
The parallel continues inside. There are sequential panels, caption boxes and speech bubbles. And at 7×10, the size feels comic-book size.
The point here is intention. Did the artist intend their work to be poetry comics? I believe it’s as simple as: if they’re called poetry comics by the poet-artist, then they’re poetry comics.
P.S. Stone illustrated poet Anne Carson’s translation of “Antigonick” by Sophokles (New Directions, 2012). Her drawings on velum overlay hand-lettered text, which shows through in evocative ways, making a direct connection with and illuminating the words. Definitely worth seeking.
Warning: This incomplete history maps my journey as a poet learning about comics and doesn’t follow a strict chronological order.