Banned & Challenged Graphic Novels; or sometimes it’s ok to judge a book by its cover

It’s Banned Books Week, which always makes me think of S. R. Ranganathan’s Five laws of library science.

Books are for use – Every reader his/her book – Every book its reader – Save the time of the reader – The library is a growing organism.

2017.39 Banned logoThe first three laws deal with censorship directly; books should be for use, not hidden away; librarians do not judge what people choose to read; and items will be collected no matter how small a group may elect to read them.

These first three laws can often become unbalanced because items are misshelved (in the youth collection when they should be in the adult collection, for instance) or because libraries allow patrons to check out any materials, unrestricted by age. I discovered V.C. Andrews when I was in the sixth grade because she was in the paperback shelving area by the cozy, cat-centered mystery paperbacks I  enjoyed reading. If my mom knew how young I was when I started hiding V. C. Andrews books between my mattress and box spring I’m sure she would have disapproved of my choices, not the library’s choice to collect the books themselves. Many times, challenged and banned book issues can be resolved with a little common sense and reflection on what the freedom to read really means.

In browsing the top banned and challenged graphic novels, I found three main themes for why they are challenged.

Mis-Leveled / Notion all comics are for kids

2017.39 Sex CriminalsLibrarians do not have time to read every item they add to a collection before deciding where it goes (contrary to many librarian stereotypes). They rely on reviews, recommendations from the publisher, and other librarians to determine where to shelve a book. However, IF A COMIC IS CALLED BIG, HARD, SEX CRIMINALS, DO YOU REALLY THINK IT’S APPROPRIATE FOR KIDS? The cover has a naked lady with a whip and a gun on the cover. Maybe flipping through the pages you notice naked men and women engaging in adult situations and realize that not all comics are for kids. In this situation, I am all for judging a book by its cover. As a reader of Sex Criminals from the very beginning, this books deals with relationships, adulthood, and self discovery in a unique way, conveying deep commentary in a bizarre premise.

Sometimes, certain authors who write novels and comics, and for adult and youth, can be extremely difficult to level. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is often shelved in youth graphic novels even though it was published by Vertigo, DC Comics’ mature imprint, and has many adult themes.  The association of Gaiman and comics implies a youthful tone. With a little research, librarians can empower themselves to make thoughtful choices based on information about publishers and authors.

Books about people….who are considered different/deviant by some

2017.39 This one summerUnfortunately, some people believe that if a viewpoint which is not their own or contradicts what they view as morally right and good, is expressed, no one should have access to that information. Graphic novels such as PersepolisThis One Summer, and Fun Home  are challenged and banned because people do not like or agree with the characters portrayed solely for being who they are. They believe the books inappropriately promote Islam, portray LGBTQA+ characters, yes simply having an LGBTQA+ character is enough to warrant a challenge in many cases. While it is ok to self regulate your reading habits or those of your children, it is not ok to limit access to the items which another person can see themselves reflected in the page. It is the goals of libraries to make all types of information available to the public and leave it up to them to decide what they like to read, what they don’t, discover the truth, or consider something new.

Mis-appropriation of historical context

2017.39 tintinComics have been around for a very long time in many countries and have promoted terrible stereotypes. It is something that has been acknowledged and studied in popular culture studies for decades. Tintin in America was recently challenged due to the portrayal of Native American and similarly, Tintin in the Congo uses horrific stereotypical depictions of Africans. Herge was writing Tintin in the 1930 and a lot has changed in society which makes images like these difficult to address. Many people will liken it to the contemporary debates of the use of stereotypes, like the Redskins and the Braves, as sports team logos; however, this debate runs deeper than multi-million dollar sports teams trying to stick with tradition. Comics like Tintin are a time capsule of popular culture and a powerful tool to start a discussion about racism, stereotypes, and colonialism. What is most important with books like Tintin is the context in which they are presented. This is an old book with old views and must be read as such, what was believed and felt then is not what is believed and felt now. Should it be shelved in the adult collection, allowing adult to decide when to share the book with their children? Does shelving things in the adult collection really prevent fans from seeking out all the books by an author. These are all question which must be addressed while balancing the need for a censorship free library experience.

Dealing with a request to ban or challenge a book is always difficult to handle, but there are many great resources available to librarians. Check ’em out!

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund http://cbldf.org/ 

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom http://www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/oif

ALA Banned Books Week http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks

 

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Web and Digital Comics Monograph Cataloging

I was recently working on cataloging some locally produced content and the creator’s website deemed their style “un-categorizeable”. As a cataloger, I am always amused when a creator thinks their content is so unique that it cannot be compared to another form of work currently in existence. Sometimes, it feels like it is my job is to pigeon-hole content into categories which don’t quite feel right or are not comprehensive, like LCGFT. Genres and forms are one of the most frequent markers for people to narrow down what they are looking for in terms of searching.

While there are many genres for comic books, it can be difficult to know when to practically apply them. For example, this week I read Black Hand Comics by Wes Craig, known for his art on Deadly Class. Black Hand Comics was originally published as a webcomic, a short, three or more panel comic published natively on a website. Other webcomics include Mike Norton’s Battle Pug, Katie Cook’s Gronk, and the works of Emily Carroll. Webcomics shouldn’t be confused with digital comics, which are presented as full length comic book issues with a traditional grid structure. Digital comics include Panel Syndicate’s Private Eye and Monkey Brain’s Bandette.

Blackhand Comics HC

But, what happens when a webcomic is collected and printed as a physical monograph? Are there certain genres or subject headings you can assign to convey the original format? Can you use WEMI (work, expression, manifestation, item) principles to express the relationship between the original webcomic and the printed edition?

Currently, there are no LCGFT headings for webcomics or digital comics. In LC J 110, it explains that using the genres “webcomics” or “digital comics” would only be applicable when cataloging the digital resource itself, “assign genre/form terms only as they come readily to mind after a superficial review of the resource being cataloged”. However, another guideline states, “assign terms based on analysis of the resource being cataloged. Genre/form terms do not need to be justified by descriptive cataloging elements” and, “consider the intent of the author or publisher, and if possible, assign terms for this orientation without being judgmental.”  The original intent of the creation of this comic was as a natively digital comic.

If you have a dedicated comic book readership and want to convey the webcomic or digital origins of an item, I have a few suggestions.

Doing a bit of research, you could add a 500 note of “Selections from the webcomic Battle Pug, http://www.battlepug.com”. This could leverage the keyword search function of the ILS to pick up the term webcomic..

You could add an 856 Electronic Location and Access field with the webpage to the web or digital comic. In the definition of the 856 field, it states, “use field 856 in bibliographic record for a resource when that resource of a subset of it is available electronically… and access a related electronic resource or an electronic version of a non-electronic resource described in the bibliographic record”.

Using WEMI principles, you could also include a 700 added entry for the creator and the title. This would also link various forms of a webcomic and the printed versions.

700 12 |i Container of (expression): |a Carroll, Emily. |t Comics. |k Selections.

700 12 |i Container of (expression): |a Norton, Mike. |t Battlepug. |k Selections.

Finally, you could include local genre/form headings in you bibliographic records. Be sure these are indexed for faceted searching within your OPAC.

655 #7 |a Digital comics. |2 local

655 #7 |a Webcomics. |2 local

Do you have a special way to connect your patron’s with web or digital comics? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comment below or reach out on Twitter @librnwithissues

Comic Book Club – DC Comics Bombshells

There’s a fever in the air, a fever that can only be satiated by a gal named Gal, nay, a woman, a wonder woman. The interest in Wonder Woman has skyrocketed since the release of Wonder Woman which, in its three plus weeks, has grossed nearly $318 million, surpassing Logan and Fate of the Furious for 2017 domestic box office gross (from boxofficemojo.com). And if the number of tickets purchase doesn’t have you convinced, just check out how excited Felicia Day was about all this Wonder Woman swag:

While I didn’t want it to be, Wonder Woman was, at its heart, a well-told origin story. We learn about Diana’s spoiled childhood on Themyscira. We see her reactions when she learns that good is not as black and white as she thought. We watch her respond to a world which pushes against her convictions. The blend of the strong female warriors of Themyscira and the pure chaos men have caused in the outside world creating an engaging story even without the gender politics. This is a great film and for people new to these characters, they will be looking for comics featuring them to read.

The DC Comics Bombshells got their start back in 2011 when artist Ant Lucia was commissioned for a series of sketches and figurines of the women of DC Comics as 1940s inspired, plane nose cone, WWII pin-ups, first featuring Wonder Woman, Stargirl, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn. People started cosplaying as these characters even though they never had a story written about them. Their popularity soared so much that in 2015, Marguerite Bennett and various artists released the DC Comics Bombshells which we know and love today. In an interview with DC Comics News from SDCC16, Bennett stated how she wanted to give each of these characters their own agency. She also points out that each character’s story arc mimics a specific media genre from the era. Batwoman’s story is an old-time radio drama, Supergirl’s is a propaganda film, Zatanna’s a dark horror film. When you think of the characters and stories in context of genres, it adds another rich layer to the storytelling.

2017.25 Bombshells

I love stories that bend our familiar cast of characters into unfamiliar situations, which is exactly what DC Comics Bombshells does. The base premise is that none of the characters are derivative of their male equivalents; Batwoman saves the Waynes in the alley, therefore there is no Batman. Supergirl is an alien from outer space being raised in the country by Russian peasants. Zatanna, performing in a German cabaret where she unwilling releases a great evil. How will these and other DC Comics superheroines and supervillains come together to defeat the unnatural evils fanning the flames of World War II? You learn about their adventures and the lives of many more Bombshells along the way.

For you book club, here are some questions to get the conversation going:

What is it about the Bombshells lines do you think many female fans gravitated towards?

What do you think of all the Bombshell’s foes? Who do you think the main villain is?

Do the villains and other supplemental characters take the story too far away from the WWII origins?

Were you exposed to any new DC Comics female characters who you weren’t aware of before reading this book? What do you think of their place in the DC Universe?

Who is your favorite character design?

Is there another time you’d like to see the Bombshells explore?

Do you like DC Comics Bombshells? Tell me your favorite part on Twitter @librnwithissues or in the comments below.

Comic Book Award Season for Collection Development

The Eisner Award nominations were released a few weeks ago and mark the industry’s largest and most prestigious awards. Award lists are a great collection development tool for librarians; they provide well vetted titles which would make great additions to any library collection. Some awards have been given out for decades and others are new; some are fraught with controversy and others allow creators to pat each other on the back. Here are some awards lists which provide diverse collection development opportunities.

Eisner AwardLet’s face it, the Eisner Awards are the Oscars of the comic book industry and awarded every year at International ComicCon in San Diego. The Eisner has been around since 1987, and was renamed from the short lived Kirby Award. What is great about the Eisners is the diversity of the award categories. From standard awards for creators and story type to honoring webcomics, educational/academic works, and comic book news outlets, the Eisner Nominees will inform your comic know how in many areas.

Along with the Eisners,  the Harvey Award is one of the largest American comic and graphic novel awards. The Harvey Awards differ from other awards because they are nominated by comic book professionals and the final votes are cast by unpaid volunteers  and the awards are financed by sponsorships. The are the honors that creators give to their peers which provides a different type of award list.

The Angouleme International Comics Festival in Angouleme, France is the third largest comic book festival in the world and hosts an international award ceremony for creators. Unlike other awards, the Angouleme awards  have broad categories and are chosen from a large pool of titles. The Grand Prix de la ville d’Angouleme is awarded to a living creator to honor their lifetime achievement and becomes the president of the jury for the next year. Noted recluse Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes won the Grand Prix in 2014, becoming the fourth non-European to win the award in 41 years. While the Angouleme has been fraught controversy, including the lack of nominating any women for the Grand Prix, citing the unfounded notion that none possessed a lifetime of work worthy of professional greatness, it is still a good place to look for diverse, international titles worth collecting. Hopefully, in the years to come, they will be more cognizant of the continued diverse presence in the comics industry.

International Manga AwardOn another international note, there are numerous manga awards to help you develop a well rounded manga collection. The Shogakukan Manga Award, sponsored by Shogakukan Publishing, has been awarded since 1955. Currently there are four categories; general, shonen (books geared to boys), shojo (books geared to girls) and children. The Kodansha Manga Award is structured the same way with the same four categories and has been awarded since 1977. An interesting and relatively new manga award is the International Manga Award and was founded in 2007 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Manga has continued to grow in popularity worldwide and this award is given to a non-Japanese manga artist annually. The entry list can be rather long and the ministry awards gold, silver, and bronze award. Some of these titles can be difficult to find translations for, but the list illustrates the diversity in manga creation.

Two other international awards to keep an eye on are the Ledger Awards, which are Australian comic awards, and the British Comic Awards which has six categories; the Hall of Fame, Emerging Talent, Young People’s Comic Awards, Best Book, and Best Comic for British comic books.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has many book and media awards. During the annual ALA conference, the awards ceremonies are always a highly and are often live streamed for those who cannot attend. The Great Graphic Novels for Teens list compiles both fiction and non-fiction graphic novels appropriate for teens and young adults, but to be honest, are also highly enjoyable for adults as well.  Be sure to check out lists back to 2007 for older titles for a retrospective collection.

Inking is one of the more specialized aspects of comic book creations. While the artist or penciller draws the initial layout of a page, the inker defines the final shape, adds shadow and texture to drawings. The Inkwell Award has several categories for different types of inking and lifetime achievement awards.

 

Many broader genre and entertainment awards also honor exceptional comics and graphic novels during their award ceremonies. Here are a few to keep in mind when doing graphic novel collection development:

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards nominated 10 books for their Outstanding Comic Book category.

The Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story honors  the “best science fiction of fantasy story Stoker Awardtold in graphic form and published in the prior calendar year” and has been awarded since 2009.

The Horror Writers Association awards Bram Stoker Awards annually and since 2011 have award graphic novels for superior achievement in horror writing.

Also, make sure to check out your state library association’s award list. As comic have become more ubiquitous, graphic novels have been appearing on general children and teens best book lists, unseparated into their own category. Many library associations accept submissions from all members, so even if you aren’t on the selection committee, you can suggest that comics and graphic novels be reviewed for awards.

 

 

The Merits of Dewey-ing your GNs

Cataloging comics is difficult. I know, I’ve made that comment a few times before, but it’s true. They don’t fit into the many standards that catalogers like; it’s not a novel, not a pictorial work, not really an illustrated text…it’s somewhere in between all of that. And, while I’ve explored some ways to make cataloging comics a little easier, classifying comics can still feel like the first time your Adamantium claws emerged from your knuckle. Many librarians feel stifled by the norms of cataloging all graphic novels as a genre term or in the dreaded 741.5 or what I like to refer to as the pit of comic despair.

Melvil Dewey
Public Domain

While I might dislike 741.5 a lot, it’s helpful if you understand a little of the history of Dewey Classification for some context. I found a discussion paper by OCLC from 2014 which quickly summarizes how 745.1 came to be and why it is perceived to be so restrictive.

The DDC 741.5 is for cartoons, caricatures, comics and graphic novels all together in one call number. It’s squished in between drawing techniques and graphic design and illustrations. The hierarchy is as follows:

700 Arts and Recreation

740 Drawing, decoration, design

741 Drawing

741.5 Cartoons, caricatures, comics and graphic novels

The reason that single-frame caricatures to three-frame newspaper comic strips and graphic novels are all together is because there is no good place to break the call number continuum. You can subdivide by the country of the artist or writer which was chosen over the original language because there are many graphic novels which do not have any words. This brings concerns about the collaborative nature of comics as many authors and artist come from different countries.

The notes in 741.5 follow the same rules for literature, the 800s, when it comes to looking at content and deciding whether to classify it in the subject area or literature. If a work uses the correct names, had no invented characters, and does not distort facts for artistic effect , it can be classified in the subject area. When a work includes conversations, feelings, and thoughts or speaks to the state of mind of the characters, it is classified under 741.5. In the discussion paper, it is mentioned that it is important to take into account images and text when deciding to put a graphic novel in the subject heading or 741.5. This is why Art Spiderman’s Spiegelman’s Maus would be classified in 745.1 because, while the account is a factual memoir, the people were not cats and mice.

Trinity graphic novel coverSo, libraries are given the opportunity to classify some graphic novels, like Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bombs by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm (623.45119) in the appropriate subject area, yet many do not, opting to keep all graphic novels together in a genre classification scheme (like GN FETT for example). There are some reasons why a library may opt to keep fiction and non-fiction graphic novels in the same classification scheme. The line between some historically inspired graphic novels and straight non-fiction graphic novels can be difficult to separate. Some may be inclined to put The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Syndey Padua in non-fiction, but because of the narrative nature of the storytelling, it would more likely be in fiction. Another reason libraries do no separate out non-fiction graphic novels is shelving needs. Do you interfile non-fiction graphic novels in the general non-fiction collection or do you create a non-fiction graphic novel collection? As libraries continue to take on new roles, like being makerspaces, community event centers, and providers of social services, shelf space for physical collection can be a premium commodity making it difficult to segment space for a new collection.

Persepolis CoverPersonally, I am an advocate for Dewey-ing non-fiction graphic novel collections. There are so many well researched, high quality non-fiction graphic novels being created right now that you can create a sizeable non-fiction graphic novel collection. Memoirs have especially taken off after the success of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and have become routine additions to graphic novel collections. Another recent trend is to convert original non-fiction books into graphic novels like A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn based on his book A People’s History of the United States and The Torture Report and The 9/11 Report, graphic novelizations of government reports by Sid Jacobsen, Jane Mayer, and Ernie Colon. If you give these graphic novels the same Dewey Number as the original editions, it will be easy to create collocation for these items. Even if you create a separate non-fiction graphic novel collection, assigning the same Dewey Numbers will create an ease for patrons and staff.

Dewey-ing out graphic novels also gives prestige and legitimacy to graphic novels. I know it seems like comic books have become ubiquitous in modern society, but there are many who still scoff at their merits as literature and art. There is something interesting about the Dewey Decimal System as a gate keeper that gives credence to an item, that it has gone through a vetting process to ensure it’s an accepted part of human knowledge. One of my favorite phrases as a cataloger is that you’ve got to make graphic novels an option. If someone who is an avid non-fiction reader searches a library’s catalog for a specific topic and, because you’ve Dewed your graphic novel collection, picks a graphic novel, isn’t that a good thing? A good way to provide access to something they may not otherwise consider. These graphic novels are well researched and thought out and can be of great for people interested in a specific topic.

Finally, Dewey-ing your collection can be a powerful collection development too. While every ILS provides different reports, think of what you could learn comparing the circulation and browsing of non-fiction graphic novels versus their standard book edition. You can see what types of non-fiction graphic novels your patrons are interested in. Many non-fiction graphic novels are published by smaller presses as well, so it can give you an indication of if your patrons want books from larger publishers or smaller presses.

It is important to consistently evaluate cataloging practices to see if they are best serving your patrons and library functions. Get feedback from front line staff and patrons themselves about ways to improve access to your collections. I know from experience that re-classifying entire collections are time consuming, but talk to your ILS provider and system administrator to see if there are any shortcuts which could make the process easier.

Do you Dewey your graphic novels? Why or why not? Let me know on Twitter @librnwithissues

When You’re A Stranger: Dr. Strange and the MCU

Dr. Strange film posterI saw Dr. Strange opening weekend at my local cinema and will admit I was pleasantly surprised. I haven’t been overly excited about the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, especially the sequels with such dimensionless villains, like Malaketh the Dark Elf in Thor 2. Plus Marvel has absolutely no excuse for a Wonder Woman film coming out next year but Ms. Marvel won’t come out until 2019. While I love Black Widow and Peggy Carter, I’m tired of not seeing women in headlining rolls.

But I digress into a post for another time.

The only way I can describe Dr. Strange is it’s a weird exploration of machismo culture with a hint of an acid trip action film and a large dose of 70s Kung Fu movies. And honestly, Dr. Strange could have been anything the Marvel executives wanted him to be because he isn’t a mainstay in the comic book culture. It is always interesting to see which aspects of their properties they keep the same, like the Super Soldier Serum for Captain America, and which elements they change, like Thor’s origin story completely ignoring Dr. Donald Blake. In Dr. Strange, they stuck to his origin story pretty close, and while another film completed devoted to an origin story drags out the MCU’s overarching stories even further, it was a good introduction to a unique character which adds another diverse element to the MCU.

Dr. Stephen Strange is a decorated neurosurgeon in New York City and a typical playboy. A very selective doctor, only seeing patients which will increase his fame and glory, Dr. Strange has made a few enemies as he’s climbed the ladder of success. One, the ER Dr. Christine Palmer, is focused on saving lives over earning fame and is the former lover of Dr. Strange. She is the first at his side when he awakens from a car accident leaving his hands permanently damaged. Unable to practice medicine anymore, Dr. Strange searches for healing across the globe and finds himself in Nepal in the sect of the Kamar-Taj, a mystical order led by the Ancient One, who bend dimensional energy to their bidding. Having a difficult time compromising his scientific background and the mystical arts taught at Kamar-Taj, Dr. Strange and his thirst for healing and knowledge lead him to discover his mystical powers in his uniquely shellfish way. Aided by Wong, Kamar-Taj’s librarian, and Karl Mordo, his mentor, Dr. Strange defeats a rogue mystic intent on bring the earth’s destruction.

There was a lot of controversy with this film because of the casting of white actors in historically Asian roles. The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, is traditional portrayed as a Tibetan mystic; however, in the film is portrayed as a Celtic mystic. There are many conjectures as to why the changes were made, if Tibet were included, the film may not show in China, a huge market for MCU films, another was to distance the character’s relation to Asian stereotype’s Hollywood perpetuated for years. I found an article from Variety’s website interviewing Benedict Wong to be very enlightening. He praises the diversity of the film. The cast, both primary and secondary, are fairly diverse. The principal cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, and Englishman, Tilda Swinton in an originally male role, Mad Mikkelson, a Dane, Benedict Wong, an Englishman of Asian descent, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Englishman of African descent, and Rachel Adams, and American. Plus, the secondary cast was made up of a variety of shapes, skin tones, and languages while never feeling forced.

Dr. Strange Comic PanelWhat I think the MCU was trying to communicate was that anyone can be a member of the Kamar-Taj, anyone can access the mystic arts, and anyone can be a hero or a villain. While it is a nice sentiment, I can understand the uneasiness with the recent casting of white actors to play traditionally Asian characters. On the other hand, the films have diverted so much from the source material that it’s difficult to compare the characters in the comics and their analogous characters on the screen.

Dr. Strange is a unique character among superheroes. While many of our heroes rely on strength derived from science, Spider-Man and Captain America, engineering, Iron-Man, sheer will of training, like Black Widow, Dr. Strange differs because of his utilization of the mystic arts instead of brute strength. And this differentiation isn’t based on intellect alone because Peter Parker and Tony Stark are geniuses as well, making Dr. Strange’s power from the mystic arts even more unique. I often wonder if Dr. Strange would punch someone in the face with his own hand or if the detachment of using the mystic arts separates him even further from the memory of using his hands as a surgeon.

Overall, Dr. Strange was a well-balanced film and a fair bit more funny than I expected. We’ve had several hard hitting, serious films in a row; it was nice to have a film with more comedic elements. The chemistry among the cast created believable, flawed characters in a world without limits. I would not recommend seeing this film in 3D if you are prone to motion sickness and the special effects are a testament to modern FX capabilities. This film will leave you wondering what role magic will play in the films to come and make you reevaluate elements of previous MCU films.

And don’t forget to stay through the credits.

Seven Costumes of Comics: Horror Creatures

I’m a huge fan of the SyFy Channel’s reality show Face Off. As a child, I’d watch a show on weekend mornings called Movie Magic which introduced me to the world of special FX makeup and has led to a fascination with practical effects used in film. There is an amazing amount of artistry and engineering that goes into every makeup seen on Face Off. Creators must design and execute the concept while maintaining realism and believably.

Vancouver Film School Makeup Design by Katie Middleton via Flickr CC BY 2.0
Vancouver Film School Makeup Design by Katie Middleton via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Halloween gives amature creature designers a chance to express themselves and explore now artistic styles. A quick search in YouTube and you will find thousands of tutorials to turn yourself into a deer, sugar skull or creepy doll with only makeup. Others use Halloween to hone more specific skills including creating elaborate, full face prosthetics requiring life molds and hundreds of hours of prep work.

In creating many of these costumes, creators draw inspiration from all sorts of objects and source materials.

uzumakiUzumaki by Junji Ito exemplifies body horror and the creative process involved with horror character creation. In Uzumaki, a coastal Japanese town is cursed by spirals, once you see a spiral, you begin a slow descent into madness. What starts off as a simple fascination slowly expands into full blown horror, all based on the spiral shape. The curl of the eardrum, a mosquito’s retracted mouth, and a snail all serve as inspiration for horrific psychical transformations as the spiral consume you.

The art of Uzumaki is truly horrifying in the black and white manga style, and uses that style to explores a lot of themes. Comprised of many short stories following a young woman named Kirie, and how her family and friends are affected by the curse. For a wonderfully creepy way to keep the Halloween horror spirit alive after tonight, stop by your local comic book shop or library tomorrow and check out Uzumaki.