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.


A Celebration of Women in Comics

It is April, which means it is the end of Women’s History Month. While I think it’s important to celebrate the contributions of women all the time, it’s really important to me to share some of my favorite women in comics, be they creators or characters, and women led initiatives. Women, be they cis, gay, bi, trans, or non-binary, contribute to so many aspects of the comic book industry that I wanted to celebrate a few with you to take you into April.

Artists Chrissie Zullo and Jenny Frison

Cover artists are one of the most important aspects of comic books are the covers. While the artist doing interiors are very important, to a casual reader in a store will be attracted to a book based on its cover. I first discovered Chrissie Zullo when she did the covers for Fables and Cinderella: Form Fabletown with Love. Her Mucha inspired style won me over almost instantly, our main female character surrounded by a framed background. You can check out her work on  Vampirella, Josie and the Pussycats, and Archie among others. Jenny Frison is also a well known cover artist noted for her work on Xena, Revival, Wonder Woman, Clean Room, and Red Sojna. Now, I don’t know if you picked it up, but these women artist do a lot of covers with female led comics and they do their job really, really well. I would describe both their art styles as dewy, yet strong, the characters are often surround by a halo of soft light, but their body language and intensity in their eyes always convey something deeper.

Kelly Sue DeConnick’s “Visible Women” campaign
kelly sueKelly Sue DeConnick, author of Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly, and Bitch Planet, is one of my favorite comic book writers because she uses her celebrity to help others. She is an expert at leveraging technology in her goal to help others. Using text messaging services, her Bitches Get Shit Done service (you might see it on twitter as #bgsh) is a sporadic motivational service, with reflections, inspirational quotes, or a stern talking to. Her new technological campaign seeks to elevate the visibility of all those who identify as women or non-binary in the comics industry. Using #VisibleWomen to showcase their work on social media via self nomination, then someone in the industry will repost your original post for a signal boost, and finally a spreadsheet with all those using the hashtag will be compiled and set out to publishers looking for creators. What an amazing way for a successful woman to help other women. What can you do to help others trying to make it in your profession?

Femme Fantasy
Over the last few years, female led fantasy and science fiction comic books have taken over a larger market share in comic book stores. I have a pretty broad definition of Fantasy, though the Library of Congress has it defined as, “fiction with magic and extraordinary characters are integral to the story”. Below are some of my favorite female lead fantasy comics from the last five years.

Women Getting the Hollywood Treatment
I know I can be critical of Marvel for not releasing a female led comic book movie and can’t wait for a Wonder Woman movie which follows Diana’s exploits at the Louvre, but I am hopeful that the success of Wonder Woman will be a stepping off point for more powerful women of comics to make their mark on the big screen. While I’m under no delusion that the majority of these films are going to be superhero movies, like Captain Marvel and Dark Phoenix, a trend of adapting independent comics is also on the horizon. The adaptation of I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura, out this week, is a book I’ve written about in the past and one that I cannot wait to see adapted on the big screen. Female characters from every genre are starting to see more predominance, from Anniliation to Under the Skin and Mad Max, we are seeing women leading in new and innovative roles. Some comics I’d like to see adapted to feature films are Lumberjanes, Cursed Pirate Girl, and Clean Room.

What women in

Bildungsromans – A Mouthful of a Genre

One of my favorite aspects of being a cataloger is looking at the Library of Congress’ LCSH, LCGFT, and Personal Name Headings approval lists. New comic book genres are being added to the LCGFT on a regular basis mostly to make genres which are comparable to other literature genres. The coming-of-age comic genre was added in September 2017; however, I like the term for the coming of age novel, Bildungsromans, mostly because it’s fun to say. And, while you may have heard the term Buildungsromans since your high school English class, but it derived from the German words for education and novel. As an adult reading these stories, I love them as a reflective tool to look back at my youth but also to analyze what teenagers are experiencing now and have empathy for their formative years. 

So, let’s take a look at some of my favorite buildngsromans… or maybe buildngsgraphischerroman.

I Kill Giants

Written by: Joe Kelly
Illustrated by: J.M. Ken Niimura
Published by: Image Comics

I kill giantsSoon to be a major motion picture, I Kill Giants is my favorite coming of age comic. Barbara Thorson is obsessed with Norse mythology, RPGs, and fantasy worlds, so obsessed that sometimes, she loses sight of the real world. When we discover why Barbara is retreating into the fantasy world, we realize why Barbara would rather fight the giants attacking her town than go home and deal with the issue at hand. There are some trials no child should have to face, but there are something children cannot be insulated from. Joe Kelley, author of Four Eyes and co-creator of the animated show Ben 10, shows his understanding of the motivations and wonder of youthfulness. Illustrations by J.M. Ken Niimura have an anime quality to them and the lack of color help drive home Barbara’s worldview, earning I Kill Giants the International Manga Award.


Written and Illustrated by: Tillie Walden
Published by: First Second

spinning coverIt is easy to see most biographical or semi-biographical comics as bildungsromans. Many artists use their medium to express emotions from their personal and formative experiences. Tillie Walden’s Spinning follows the young ice skater of the same name, as she navigates a new school, family issues, and first love. A fairly independent girl, Tillie’s life focused on her ice skating goals, but as she experienced new things, her perspective on the importance of skating changed and she began to reevaluate other aspects of her life. A big part about growing up, that we don’t actively think about, is quitting something. I remember when I told my dad, who had invested time coaching my softball team, sent me to catcher’s camp, and bought me new catchers equipment with every growth spurt, that I wasn’t having fun anymore and wanted to quit. I thought he’ be disappointed or angry with me, that I’d giving up, but I hadn’t given up, I’d simply grown up, and that is the main lesson of this beautiful read. It is ok to grow up and try new things, continual self discovery is what keeps life interesting and engaging.

Joe the Barbarian

Written by: Grant Morrison
Illustrated by: Sean Murphy
Published by: Vertigo Comics


It can be difficult for a coming of age story to seamlessly add fantastical elements while maintaining its core theme of self-discovery. Eleven year old Joe has Type 1 Diabetes and one day, while home alone, he slips into a hypoglycemic state and hallucinates a fantasy world inhabited by characters familiar to him. In the fantasy world, much like Barb in I Kill Giants, Joe uses the fantastical to explore the trama he’s experienced in his life so far. The loss of his father, growing up with a working, widowed mother, and managing a life long and life threatening medical condition, all before puberty, is explored by Joe the Barbarian. Joe’s pet rat play a pivotal role in the story and Sean Murphy’s rendering of him is reminiscent of Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise with slight manga styling. This limited series is a great quick read.

Ms. Marvel Series

Written by: G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by: Various
Published by: Marvel Comics

Ms MarvelDo I need to tell you that I love Ms. Marvel….again? This book deftly handles on of the fundamental aspects of the bildungsroman, the journey of maturity, having experiences which transition you from child to adult. We see Kamala Kahn explore what it means to be family, have friends, explore your religion, all while saving Jersey City one baddie at a time. Teenagers often feel invincible, but how does a teenager with superpowers handle the “little thing” like an internet bully? They aren’t “little things,” not even for Kamala because the experiences we go through as teenagers lay the foundations for the rest of our life. While this makes Ms. Marvel seem like a serious study in puberty, it balances the levity and hopefulness of youth very, very well.

Do you have a favorite coming of age comic book story? And don’t forget to add that 655 #7 |a Coming-of-age comics. |2 lcgft to your favorite Buildngsgraphischerroman.

What’s in a Comic Book Title? Using the Title Statement and Varying Title Fields

What are the two most important elements in any library record? Title and statement of responsibility, commonly the author and illustrator, and for comics in particular, can include the colorist, letterer, inker, and editor. Most of your patrons will come in with either a creator or a title in mind. However, graphic novels, and particularly trade paperbacks of serialized single comic issues, are notorious for having title statements formulated multiple ways on the same item. Maybe the series volume is on the spine, but the story arc is written on the title page, but only the series title is on the cover. So, what are the best ways to convey all the different titles in on MARC record?

When you are constructing your 245 and 246 MARC fields, always ask yourself, “How is my patron going to look for this book?” and “How is my ILS and/or discovery layer going to look for this book?” The former has to deal with the rest of the record, subjects, keyword notes, etc. The latter is concerned with hyphenation, spelling suggestions, and capitalization. It is important to know if your ILS will translate Spider-Man into Spiderman and Spider man and determine whether or not you should spell out the name three different ways in the 245 and 246 fields. As a cataloger, it is important to balance how patrons and computers will use and interpret your cataloging records.

If you are cataloging your graphic novels as series, you don’t have much flexibility in transcribing the title because you are using the collective title in the 245 and adding information about the individual volumes in the 505 contents note. However, if you are cataloging your trade paperbacks as monographs, you have more flexibility in transcribing several versions of the title.

Let’s use Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday as an example.

Astonishing X-Men

If you are cataloging your comic book trades as a series, your 245 and 505 would look like this:

245 10 |a Astonishing X-Men / |c writer, Joss Whedon ; artist, John Cassaday ; colorist, Laura Martin ; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos [and others].

505 00 |g Volume 1. |t Gifted — |g Volume 2.|t Dangerous — |g Volume 3. |t Torn —  |g Volume 4.|t Unstoppable.

While this will get across the title of the series and that each trade is named for a different story arc. This is the reason many libraries treat their trade paperbacks as monographs, conveying the chronology and title of the series, through the title statement. You can use subfields n, number of part/section of work, and p, name of part/section of work, to create a complete title statement. Let’s look at Astonishing X-Men Gifted by Joss Whedon again, this time, treating it as a monograph.

[As it appears on the title page and cover]

 245 10 |a Astonishing X-Men. |p Gifted / |c writer, Joss Whedon ; artist, John Cassaday ; colorist, Laura Martin ; letterer, Chris Eliopoulos [and others].

[As it appears on the spine]

246 18 |a Astonishing X-Men. |n Volume 1, |p Gifted

Note from the cover image that volume one does not appear on the cover or the title page, only the spine. So if a patron wanted volume one of Astonishing X-Men and you didn’t include a varying spine title 246, you’d have to use another resource to find the title you are looking for is Gifted. The 246 field has a lot of options for recording various forms of title, giving catalogers a number of tools to aid in search retrieval.  Parallel titles for foreign language graphic novels, cover titles, and spine titles can all be added entries for your MARC records. Again, as a cataloger, ask yourself, how is a patron going to look for this? How have they heard this title talked about? How will they ask a reference librarian to look for it when they can’t find it themselves? My rule of thumb, when in doubt, add a 246, your patrons will thank you for it.


Top 5 of 2017

I am one of those comic book readers who likes to break down my favorites lists into the major publishers; Marvel, DC, Image and other, smaller presses. While I know that that promotes the two publisher dominated field of comics, I might have to change my way as I read more independently published OGNs and floppy’s published by the smaller presses like AfterShock and smaller imprints like IDW’s Black Crown. So below are my top five, single issue comics I read in 2017.


So right off the bat, I’m listing two favorite comics from Marvel this year. I couldn’t help myself because there were two complete standouts, both great in story and one with an exceptional link between text and art.

Ms. Marvel #25Ms. Marvel
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Illustrated by Various throughout 2017
Published by Marvel Comics

During the Vice debacle stating that there were no notable comics of 2017, I reflected that Ms. Marvel is consistently on my top of my best of list year after year. G. Willow Wilson has created a compelling character in Kamala Khan who tackles modern issues with thoughtfulness and class. While handling internet trolls and discrimination, Kamala is also a teenager dealing with romance, jealousy, and learning to appreciate her bizarre family. Even if this book doesn’t seem like your thing, I urge you to try it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Black Bolt
Black Bolt #2Written by Saladin Ahmed
Illustrated by Christian Ward
Published by Marvel Comics

Black Bolt came completely out of left field for me. I figured Marvel would put something out because of the Inhumans show, but this story of Blackagar Boltagon and his daring prison escape was not what I expected. Hugo and Nebula nominated author Saladin Ahmed bring the intergalactic world of Black Bolt to a small prison setting where we meet Blinky, a telepathic teen, and the Absorbing Man. What really pushes this book over the edge for me is the story plus Christian Ward’s outstanding art. The prison is akin to an Escher painting, noting the theme of the modern prison complex and the colors and layers of the art convey a huge depth of emotion.


Mister MiracleMister Miracle
Written by Tom King
Illustrated by Mitch Gerads
Published by DC Comics

I knew absolutely nothing about Mister Miracle or Big Barda when I started reading this book. Being a Wisconsinite, I am fascinated by escape artists because of one of Wisconsin’s golden son’s Harry Houdini (if you ever find yourself in Appleton, WI, check out the Harry Houdini Museum!). After reading this book for a while, I would say that I still don’t know that much about Mister Miracle and Big Barda, but I care deeply about what happens to them. Mister Miracle, a master escape artist the son of the Highfather, the ruler of New Genesis. He meets his wife, Big Barda, during a hostage exchange in Granny Goodness’ Terror Orphanage. With all that emotional baggage and dealing with Gods, it’s been difficult to fully understand Mister Miracle, but I’m still playing along, and that’s a great sign.


Curse WordsCurse Words
Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Ryan Browne
Published by Image Comics

Charles Soule quickly became a must read author for me after his run on She-Hulk. He single handedly resurrected one of my favorite characters of all time. And, if you’ve been following Librarian with Issues for any length of time, you’ll know that I have a commissioned Ryan Browne piece up in my home. What I have loved about their work combining in Curse Words is the narrative driven storytelling and Ryan Brown’s comedic art style, makes for a fantastical story. Wizord finds himself on a mission to destroy Earth, but as he gets to know the locals, he becomes fond of them and decides to become their wizard for hire. What could go wrong other than the preternatural evil who sent him to destroy Earth still wants to destroy Earth. Panel layouts by Browne are are phenomenal and really pay on the elemental aspects of the magic system within Curse Words.

Other Publishers

Eleanor and the EgretEleanor and the Egret
Written by John Layman
Illustrated by Sam Kieth
Published by AfterShock Comics

If there was an intersection of things Tracy likes, Eleanor and the Egret would be in the center of the Venn diagram of Art Deco French aesthetic, Seussian illustrations, and a mysterious animals. Eleanor is an art thief in a dystopian, nouveau art inspired Paris, but why is she stealing the artwork of famed artist Anastasia Rue? The artistic talents of Sam Kieth, known for his work with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes, brings this rich world to life without feeling referencial. I think what really draws me to Eleanor and Egret is how similar it feels to one of my all time favorite comic series Bandette, plucky thief, band of sidekicks, a hint of the supernatural and amazing artwork.

These were my favorite comics of 2017. It’s always difficult to pick your favorites, but these are some choices I’d recommend to anyone who wants to read something new and different.

Marriage Issues Podcast

Last year my husband, Aaron, and I started a podcast called Marriage Issues: A Couple’s Conversation about Comics. We discuss our weekly comic book pull list, other books we are reading, current comic events and news, and end every episode with a newlywed style question to see how well we truly know each other.

If you are interested in checking it out, you can visit us at www.marriageissuespodcast.com, download directly from the Apple Podcast App, Google Play and other places you get your podcasts. You can also follow us on Twitter @mrandmrscomics where we post our current comic reading list and other fun nerdiness.



Comic Catz

It has been a really rough year for me and my family. We had several things happen to us which put me in a bad state of mind and not up to the task of writing consistently. But it is a fresh year and I’m rededicating myself to sharing my love of comics and libraries with all of you. Thank you for your patience as I find my footing again.

Jonesy “reading” Patsy Walker aka HellCat with me!

To get back into the swing of things, I wanted to write about something I am really passionate about: pets, particularly my wonderful cat Jonesy. I have said for a while that I’m not particularly a cat person, but I am 100% a Jonesy person. We adopted him from our local animal shelter over two years ago and he’s been an integral part of our family ever since. He has some health issues, a bald spot from an infection and a crinkly ear, but he is the most loving, affectionate cat I’ve ever met. Due to his conditions, when we first met him at the shelter, he was being kept in the bathroom, secluded from the other cats. But when he jumped into my lap and started to purr, I knew instantly he was the cat for us. He’s in good health now and enjoying the high life…and inspiring me to read many cat comics! Here’s a few of my favorites from 2017.

Chi’s Sweet Home Series
Written by Kanatan Konami
Published by Kodansha

Chi's Sweet HOmeIn Chi’s Sweet Home, a young street kitten wanders away from her mother and siblings and is found by the Yamada family. They take a quick liking to the new kitty, naming her Chi, sounding like the Japanese word for urine. But it isn’t easing going for the Yamada’s because cats are not allowed in their apartment complex, so they must keep Chi secret from their landlords and neighbors. Read along as Chi discovers boxes, the weird food the Yamada’s try feeding her, and explores the indoor world of being a house cat. This is a sweet, all ages, long running manga series and is for someone searching for a book that will put a smile on their face.

By Benji Nate
Published by Silver Sprocket

Catboy coverI talk to my cat all the time. When my cat makes a noise and my husband talks back, I talk as Jonesy. I know, it’s weird, but I may love my cat way too much. I think all pet owners anthropomorphize their pets to some extent. Some put them in cute clothes, some take them everywhere like they are their child, and others talk nonsense to them. Well, what if your cat could be a person? This is the premise of Benji Nate’s Catboy. Olive is a broke barista with an art degree who lives with her cat, and best friend, Henry. One night she wishes on a star and Henry becomes a human sized, upright walking cat. While he may stand like a human, he sure doesn’t know how to act like one. From not bathing in public to getting a job, Henry sure does have a lot to learn about being a cat in the human world. As Henry learns what it means to be a human, Olive also learns how to be more social herself and ventures outside her comfortable existence with the help of Henry.

She and Her Cat
Story by Tsubasa Yamaguchi
Art by Makoto Shinkai
Published by Vertical Comics

She and her catBecoming and adult is tough. I always thought that at the end of high school or college, there should be a class about being an adult, finding friends, and how to function on your own. She and Her Cat follow Miyu’s, a young accountant, transition into adulthood and living alone with her cat Chobi. Originally a short animated film by Makoto Shinkai, this is a poignant story about being lonely and independent without being a critique of any particular aspect of society. The internet, introverted personalities, and social isolation are not themes in the forefront of this story. One of my favorite parts of this story is Miyu’s interactions with her mother and learning to navigate adulthood while interacting with adults at various life stages, because there are many stages to adulthood that Miyu has yet to explore and understand. Being an adult demands constant changes in mindset and priorities, which She and Her Cat explores as a quiet, reflective exercise on the reality of everyday life.

Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations
Story and Art by Jeffrey Brown
Published by Chronicle Books

Cat Getting out of a bagYou might recognize Jeffrey Brown’s name from the Darth Vader series of kids books; however, you probably don’t know that Brown also loves his cats. In Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations and Cats Are Weird: And More Observations Brown distills the essence of words used to describe cats; sleepy, curious, soft, inquisitive, lazy, indecisive, into wonderful short comics.. While the art isn’t particularly complex and mostly in black and why, the expression in the kitties eyes and body language show his deep understanding of cat psyche. This is what I like to call a side table book; not large format like a coffee table book, but still a nice book to have around for quick looksee’s.

Even though I was not a cat person before we adopted Jonesy, I’m truly a cat lady now. Some would say that I love my cat too much and have gone off the deep end of cat lady-dom (but I’m glad I’m not alone, check out these amazing cat centric knitting patterns from KnitPicks.com!). This past year was rough, and when the going gets rough, we tend to gravitate towards things that make us really, really happy. For 2017, it was the love for my cat, but I wonder what reading patterns 2018 will bring?