Why is it spelled colourist? Discussion of Relationships Designators

It was recently National Siblings Day and it got me thinking about relationships. We have a lot of different relationships in our lives; our friends, our families, our coworkers, but, when you work collaboratively on a project, like a comic or graphic novel, your relationships with the people you work with are a combination of family/friend/coworker. You’ve created something intricate and nuanced through your collaboration and you all deserve credit for your portion of the physical and emotional labor. The cataloging world has embraced relationships as a way to express a creator’s contributions to a work, which is very important for patrons seeking out specific types of contributors to a particular comic.

In recent years, you may have noticed $e and $4 in 1xx and 7xx fields, as in the following examples:

100 1# $a Gaiman, Neil, $e author.
100 1# $a Walden, Tillie, $d 1996- $4 aut $4 ill.

How you describe the relationships in FRBR is through the WEMI, Work, Expression, Manifestation, Item, model. RDA looks specifically at how creators contribute to the work and expression of the resource. If you are unfamiliar with the WEMI model, the book The Diary of Anne Frank is often used as an example.

Work = the actual diary Anne wrote
Expression = The German language edition, the Braille edition
Manifestation = Hardcover, paperback
Item = the specific copy you have

It is very important to understand WEMI because the RDA toolkit breaks down relationship designators between Works and Expressions for comic books. There are essentially six relationship designators you need for comic books: author, illustrator, artist, colourist, creator, and editor. Noteably, inker and letterer are missing, but because of the use of hierarchy, you can apply the broader term of illustrator for these creators. You can check out a crosswalk of RDA Relationship designators and MARC Relator terms here (especially good if you do not have access to the RDA Toolkit).

When you look at Appendix I, Relationships Designators: Relationships between a Work, Expression, Manifestation, or Item and Agents Associated with the Resource, it tells you what terms you can put in the $e of the 1xx and 7xx fields when describing a person’s relationships to a work. But sometimes, you’ll see a term that is not in Appendix I and is most likely from the MARC relator terms. In RDA, the term is spelled colourist, and in MARC relator terms, it is spelled colorist, thought most of the time, the terms are spelled the same way. According to the 2015 PCC Standing Committee on Training Training Manual for Applying Relationships Designators in Bibliographic Records, you apply the RDA relationships designator, then the MARC code, then another standard vocabulary, leaving the $e vacant if no good term exists.

So what is the point of doing all this extra work and typing (hint, quick keys are AWESOME for common relator terms :))? As we move to linked data, the standardized names of a creator will be just as important as their relationship to the work. A person’s name will no longer be good enough to describe a resource, which is why having specific relationships designations is so important. Many creators have more than one relationship within the cb/gn genre and those relations are important to the information retrieval process. Skottie Young is an author and an illustrator. But, what if I want something he didn’t write? Jordie Bellaire is an amazing and prolific colorist and is authoring her first comic book Redlands with Vanesa R. Del Ray for Image comics. What if I only want to find her work as an author? Catalogers must work to ensure that narrower relationships, such as letterer and inker, are still represented in current controlled vocabularies. People win awards for this work, so isn’t it important to have that specific aspect of the work represented? It is difficult to navigate how to suggest new names for controlled vocabularies, but it’s always good to put those ideas out there.