Trade Watching – Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys #1

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys #1
Author Anthony Del Col
Artist Werther Dell’Edera
Colorist Stefano Simeone
Letters Simon Bowland
Published by Dynamite

Famous literary characters and works have been adapted into graphic novels and single issue comic books for quite some time and have covered a wide span of classic and contemporary literature. Marvel Illustrated, an imprint of Marvel Comics, started in 2007 and adapted Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Eric Shanower & Skottie Young’s Wizard of Oz series. As licensed properties have increased in popularity, there has also been a rise in old characters making new appearances.

Last week, comics saw the resurrection of childhood literary classic characters Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. At over 85 years old, there are reasons why the teenaged detectives still resonate with contemporary readers. Their original, post-depression era perspectives on the prosperity of the United States was far from the plucky, wholesome teens of the 1960s and show how their characters morph to the current socioeconomic and political climate. While they have made appearances in graphic novel form from the children’s graphic novel publisher Papercuts, this new rendition of the classic detectives is not for the young of heart.

The first page of this issues hits full force with nostalgia featuring the sleepy New England town of Bayport, which may be a friendly place to live if you are not Frank and Joe Hardy. Their father, a corrupt cop taking bribes, had disgraced his family and their town and pitted Frank and Joe against each other in regards to their father’s innocence. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Comic Cover #1As the Hardy Boys soon learn, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children because they are quickly taken into custody in their father’s perhaps not-so apparent suicide. The story quickly moves from a nostalgic driven narrative to a hard-boiled police procedural with a good cop/bad cop dichotomy when a mysterious birdie emerges from a clock, and an old friend  returns with a plan to find who really killed their father.

This book is a collaboration of Anthony Del Col, co-author of Kill Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes vs Harry Houdini, and Assassin’s Creed and artist Werther Dell’Edera of G.I. Joe and Detective Comics. Del Col’s experience morphing established characters into new forms lends itself well to the Hardy Boys. These brothers, who obviously love each other, are being torn apart over the controversy surrounding their father, a story told in many classic tales. Use of heavy narration by the Hardy Boys is overwrought and doesn’t lend itself well to the comic book medium because the art at times became ignorable because it is not integral to the storytelling. Also, the title is Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, though we aren’t introduce to Nancy properly in this issue.

Colors also play an important part in this issue. As the timeline shifts from the interrogation room to the past and present timelines, shadows are used for their intensity and chaotic nature in the integration room while brighter, matte colors are used for present day scenes of teenage life. The overall tone of the book is darker that many readers would expect from a nostalgic title.

For readers who enjoy a good femme fatale, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys may fit the bill in a lighter tone than Ed Brubaker’s Fatale and Fade Out. These teen detectives deal with hardcore issues in a serious manner. I’m excited to see where this book goes over the next few issues and think it will be a hit for adult fans who grew up with these teen detectives.

Cataloging (Or Not So Much) Manga

Manga Kanji
Manga Kanji

Have you ever asked a manga reader what other types of graphic novels they like to read? Sometimes, the answer you will get is, “Well, I don’t read graphic novels, I read manga.”

Which is a completely valid point.

There is little doubt that modern manga was heavily influenced by the influx of western comics making their way to Japan during World War II; however, there is centuries long traditions of illustrated texts in Japanese culture. Manga is an amazing meld of differing artistic and literary art styles geared towards readers of all ages.

Some key aspects when looking at manga are also how it is distinguished from western comics. Manga reads from right to left, even when the text has been translated, vexing many librarians as to whether or not you should put the barcode on the front cover (traditionally back cover) or the back cover (traditionally the front cover). It is also incredibly rare to have full color manga, many books only have a few pages or a short story presented in full color, otherwise, they are strictly black and white. Length can vary greatly depending on the type of story, but are generally around 200 pages and the books are 5 x 7.5 inches. Manga is also aimed at specific audiences and you can find more information about different types of manga from this Kotaku article.

Really, comics, graphic novels, and manga are incredibly similar, but when it boils down to serving patron’s needs, it can be incredibly important to be able to quickly identify manga vs comics. With current cataloging practices, there is no way to look at a cataloging record and definitely say, “Yes that is manga”. But there are some fields in the MARC record which are good indicators that what you are looking at is manga.

Fixed Field Cont

The Cont field is used to identify significant parts of a material. This is the field that indicates if an item is a dictionary or encyclopedia, contains filmographies or discographies, and if something is a comic or graphic novel you up “6” in the Cont field. This replaced the code “c” in LitF and covers, “Instances of “sequential art” in which a story (whether fact or fiction) is told primarily through a set of images (often in the form of multiple “panels” per page) presented concurrently but meant to be “read” sequentially by the viewer. The accompanying narrative and/or dialog text, when it occurs, works integrally with the images to tell the story” (from OCLC’s Website).

While many OPACs do not exploit the fixed fields, it is important to ensure that your MARC record is as complete as possible for future projects and system upgrades.

Translations Indicators

I generally use a trio of fields to communicate an instance of Japanese manga. They include a 041 Language Code to indicate the item has been translated.

041 1# eng $h jpn

Alice in Murderland volume 1 coverA 240 Uniform Title field with the original title as found normally on the copyright page.

240 10 $a Kakei no Alice. $l English

245 10 $a Alice in Murderland. $n 5 /$c Kaori Yuki ; translation: William Flanagan ; lettering: Lys Blakeslee.

A 650 Topical Subject Heading can also be used to indicate a work of translated manga using the following subject string:

650 #0 Graphic novels $z Japan $v Translations into English.

Genre/Form Fields

I have had several discussion with fellow librarians lately about the genres and as they become more nuanced, how useful, or not, they become. For manga you really have three genre/forms you can use from the Library of Congress Genre/Form Thesaurus:

655 #7 Graphic novels. $2 lcgft

655 #7 Comics (Graphic works) $2 lcgft

655 #7 [Whichever specific genre heading fits your needs from the LOC genre form thesaurus found here]. $2 lcgft

These are just recommendations for identifying a manga from a cataloging record. However, there are some situations where these guidelines will not be useful.  Since 2007, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has awarded the International Manga Award to non-Japanese manga artists and the market for international manga is on the rise. That makes the translations fields a bit less clear when determining if an item is manga or not. For example, Australian manga creator Madeleine Rosca’s Hollow Fields is not translated and not from Japan, so the above suggestions would not apply.

There are a few things you can do locally to make your records more patron friendly. While it would be nice, and make sense, if the LCGFT, which is intended to describe what the work is versus what the work is about, would have a specific heading for manga, it doesn’t. Until manga does get their own entry in the LCGFT, many libraries are creating their own local genre headings. You can also create a separate item categories and call numbers for manga to further distinguish them in your collection.

LEGO Batman Read Alikes for Kids!

2017-07-lego-batmanThe LEGO Batman Movie came out almost two weeks ago and has already grossed over $110 million. The LEGO franchise has grown not only in films, but also in library book collections. The LEGO Batman, LEGO Ninjago, and LEGO City lines of kid’s books fly off the shelves at most libraries. Kids can’t get enough of them, and if there’s one thing that warms my librarian heart the most, it’s seeing kids excited about reading.

Do you have a little one in your life who saw the LEGO Batman Movie and you want some all-ages superhero comics for them to read? Here are five suggestions for all-ages, fun comics with a hero twist.

2017-07-dc-superhero-girlsDC Superhero Girls
Written by Shea Fontana
Art by Vancey Labat
Colors by Monica Kubina
Lettered by Janice Chiang

There has been a recent uptick in the number of traditional female superheroes available to an all-ages audience. DC Superhero Girls follows the female pillars of the DC Universe; Batgirl, Bumblebee, Harley Quinn, Katana, Poison Ivy, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman, as they navigate their high school for the strong and powerful. This series does a great job of bringing real world situations into the teenaged superhero realm. How does one balance being them self, handle forces outside their control, and maintain good grades? Many young readers have dealt with, or have friends, who come from split families, so Wonder Woman spending the summer break with her dad, who happens to be Zeus, is a very relatable storyline. This series is also great for the novice comics reader who also wants regular novels as many of the DC Superhero Girls have their own novel lines as well.

2017-07-mouse-guardMouse Guard Series
by David Petersen

Not all heroes wear capes, but in this case, they do wear cloaks. Though not strictly a “hero” book, Petersen’s Eisner Award winning series Mouse Guard is sure to entertain readers who enjoy fantasy heroes like Frodo or Link from the Zelda video games. If you suspect a young reader will eventually read Brian Jacques’ classic fantasy series Redwall, you can put them on the right path with Mouse Guard. The anthropomorphic mice of these stories live in a medieval world of blacksmiths, scribes, and shield-bearers. Since the mighty battle between the mice and weasel overlord has ended, the soldiers of the Mouse Guard now channel their energy to protect the mice people from other dangerous predators who lurk outside, and inside, the mouse villages. I really love Petersen’s art, which has a very Jim Henson vibe, the characters maintain their animal state while emitting intense human emotions.

2017-07-aw-yeahAw Yeah Comics!
by Art Baltazar and Franco

Art Baltazar and Franco are the royalty of all-ages comics. With titles like Tiny Titans, Superman Family Adventures, and Itty Bitty Hellboy, they have the ability to distill the nature of these heroes to child friendly storylines. But, it’s their Aw Yeah Comics! in which their originality shines. Inspired by their comic book stores in three states, Aw Yeah Comics! follows Cornelius and Alowicious, two comic book store employees who transform into Action Cat and Adventure Bug when the need strikes. With the help of Adorable Cat and Shelly Bug, no foe is too great for our heroes. This book is just fun and entertaining for children and adults alike. Be sure to check out all of Baltazar and Franco’s work.

2017-07-bravest-warriorsBravest Warrior
Various authors and artists

I used to run after school programming at an elementary school before becoming a librarian and quickly discovered that elementary school is when you learn to control your emotions and be empathetic, which is just as important as learning to spell words and memorize facts. Bravest Warriors follows four teenagers from the distant future who travel as heroes-for-hire, using their emotions as their superpowers. In volume one, the Bravest Heroes must rescue a clown world from their nemesis, Sadness, while one of their own must face his coulrophobia. The use of witty and conscious dialogue can be a little over the top, but creates a light, fun-filled, and socially conscious comic. Originally a web series on YouTube from the creator of Adventure Time, this comic is sure to please adventurers of all ages.

2017-07-power-upPower Up
Written by Kate Leth
Illustrated by Matt Cummings

Powerhouse duo Kate Leth and Matt Cumming’s comic Power Up will feel pretty nostalgic for many Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. No, there are no vampires or demons, but there is the common thread of “the chosen one”. But what happens when those chosen ones, long foretold and prophesied, superheroic powers aren’t given to the strong, mighty, hyper intelligent hero-ing types?  When art student Amie, single mom Sandy, aging athlete Kevin, and goldfish Silas, are imbued with ancient magical powers, they aren’t quite sure how to react, but discover themselves and their powers, throughout their adventures. Touching on topics of bullying, gender identity, and love, Power Up will spark critical conversations with your young reader.

What are your favorite hero comics for kids? Be sure to share them with me on twitter @librnwithissues or in the comments below.

Trade Watching – Curse Words #1

Collection development is a large part of a library’s budget and a librarian’s time. It can be difficult to develop a graphic novel collection development plan when the length between reading a review for a first issue and the time when a trade comes out can be affected by many factors, including printer issues and unscheduled delays. Trade Watching posts will consist of reviews of #1 issues with their projected trade paperback release date along with a reminder when that date rolls around.

2017-05-curse-wordsCurse Words #1
By Charles Soule and Ryan Browne
Colors by Ryan Browne, Jordan Boyd, and Michael Parkinson
Letters by Chris Crank, Ryan Browne, and Shawn Depasquale.

“Once Upon a time, there was a wizard. Then it all went to hell,” cold opens the new Image title by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne. Meet Wizord, a magician from another dimension sent by his master, Lord Sizzajee, to end the world. However, after days of spell preparation, a chance encounter with a hot dog vendor turns Wizord into Earth’s protector instead of destroyer. When asked, “How is it that they [people relaxing along the water] can spend so much time in idleness? Where are their masters?” Wizord gets his first glimpse at a world without slaves and masters, nobles and those in their services, and he admires. Staying on Earth, Wizord cleans up his look, but keeps his incredible hipster beard, rents an office space, and with his sidekick, a talking Koala named Margaret, starts his work as a Wizard for Hire.

In this issue, we discover Wizord’s origin, along with a few of his clients. His business has only three rules: no curses, no wars, no love. He’s extinguished wildfires, conjured food to alleviate hunger, returned a missing child to their family, and denied a nefarious looking general. When Johnny One, a baby faced musician who could be mistaken for a Canadian YouTuber turned Usher protégé, visits Wizord to become platinum, all seems to go well until Cornwall, an Elizabethan inspired wizard, attacks Wizord for his insurrection.

2017-05-curse-words-pg-7Browne’s art is arresting and vibrant, creating a colorful yet based in reality world for Wizord to inhabit. Panel layout plays a large roll in pushing the narrative for many comics and Browne’s use of irregular, yet straight lined panels invoke the mystical arts. Many of the panels feel like they are parts of a potion which must be put together in a particular way for the story to advance. The use of color injects a lot of symbolism into this book. The potion created to destroy the world is pink, but Wizord is paid in sapphires, has a blue staff and his magic is blue. Cornwall’s magic is also pink and his staff is rather phallic in nature. I’m excited to see how the symbolism continues in the next few issues.

I have been a huge fan of Soule since his run on She-Hulk a few years ago. He tends to write solitary characters with extraordinary powers like She-Hulk, Daredevil, and Swamp Thing. An immigration lawyer as well as a writer, it feels like Soule’s work with immigrants seeps into his books though the outsider characters he often writes. It is also interesting to note that this book does not have caption boxes, everything is divulged through dialogue and the occasional tweet, mostly about how Margaret is left out of some of Wizord’s situations. It is difficult to tell the relationship between Wizord and Margaret. Why is Margaret an animal? Is she a magician gone bad? In servitude to Wizord? We’ll have to wait and  see in issue #2 and beyond.

Curse Words Volume 1 is set to be released on July 25th, 2017.

Cite Your Creators with Relator Terms!

This week, I saw a commentary on Comic Beat’s website featuring a tweet from colorist Matt Wilson of The Wicked + the Divine. Here’s the tweet and a link to the article:

It takes a whole group of people, authors, artists (pencilers, inkers, colorists, etc.), letterers, and editors working together to create a comic book.  And, I’ll admit, it’s easy to cite the author and primary artists when talking about comics, I’ve done it on the blog (and will change my ways after this). Colorists and letterers have been honored by the Eisner Awards since the early 1990s and play a very important role in comics. Gone are the days of four colors layered on top of each other and in are the days of digital coloring which has created a new and varied aesthetic in comics.

Libraries have also been bad about not giving credit to all those involved in a specific work in regards to cataloging practices. Under AACR2, the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd edition, there was a, “rule of three” stating if there were more than three creators on a specific source, the first would be an added entry (7xx field), appear in the title and statement of responsibility (245 field), and the other contributors would be represented as et. al. appearing nowhere else in the record.  RDA, Resource Description and Access, the new cataloging standard implemented by the Library of Congress in 2013, does not follow the rule of three. The first listed contributor is the main entry (in the 100 field), the title and statement of responsibility (245 field) lists all contributors on the chief source of information, and all other contributors are added entries (7xx fields). Creators appearing in the 1xx and 7xx fields are indexed in most online library catalogs, so if a patron searches using the “author” search, they will find anything in the 1xx and 7xx fields.

Developing relationships between creators and works is a key principle of the FRBR/WEMI models which directly impacted the development and implementation of RDA. Ok, I know that’s a lot of acronyms, so here’s their breakdown. FRBR, Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, is a model that explains entities, relationships, and attributes thus creating metadata. There are three groups of entities in the FRBR model used to describe attributes. Group 1 are the products of intellectual and artistic endeavor, including Works, Expressions, Manifestations, and Items (WEMI). Here is a visual example of WEMI in action.

2017.04_WEMI.png
From http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/frbreng.pdf

For example, the work Captain America: Winter Soldier can be either the book by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Mike Perkins and Michael Lark, or the film directed by the Russo brothers. The book could be expressed as the single issue comics or a trade paperback; be manifested as a paper book or a digital file, and your library could have a hardcover or paperback item.

Group 2 are those responsible for the intellectual and artistic content, such as a person or corporate body and Group 3 are the subjects of the works, including groups 1 and 2 plus concepts, objects, events, place.  You can find a lot of information about FRBR and RDA online. The one thing to drive home about FRBR and new cataloging practices is the importance of the relationships in metadata.

I bet by now you forgot this was about artists right?

Because the relationships are important, it is necessary to detail the aspects of each contributor, which is where relator codes in RDA come into play. Relator codes can be found on the Library of Congress’ MARC Code List for Relator webpage. The terms are slightly different than those found in the RDA toolkit. Looking at the list, there are many that are primarily geared to comics and graphic novels.

They include: artist, author, colorist, creator, and editor (with more expanded terms in the RDA Toolkit). These relator terms appear in the subfield e for the 1xx and 7xx fields. Plus, practically speaking, the relator terms are free form, so I’ve seen a lot of interesting terms in the subfield e.

This may seem a bit cumbersome for a practicing cataloger. To include upwards of 10 collaborators and their responsibilities on a single MARC record takes time and effort. But let me give you a real world example of how practical this information can be.

2017-04-magenetoLet’s say a parton comes up to your reference desks saying something like, “I really love this author, Skottie Young. Could you give me other titles of things he’s written?” Without relator codes, when searching the OPAC, you’d just see Young, Skottie, which would include I Hate Fairyland written and illustrated by Young, colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu and lettered & designed by Nate Piekos, or maybe The Wonderful Wizard of Oz adaptation, written by Eric Shanower, illustrated by Skottie Young, colored by Jean-Francois Beaulieu, and lettered by Jeff Echleberry, but what the patron really wanted was something like Magneto: Not a Hero, written by Skottie Young, penciled by Clay Mann and Seth Mann, lettered by Chris Eliopoulos, and colored by David Curiel Insheild, a book Young wrote but did not draw at all. Here’s what the relator terms would look like for these three books as displayable in your OPAC.

I Hate Fairyland
100 1# Young, Skottie, |e author, |e illustrator.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
100 1# Young, Skottie, |e illustrator.

Magento: Not a Hero
100 1# Young, Skottie, |e author.

Think about what other items in your collection this is beneficial for. Many creators now straddle their original artistic endeavor and relator terms help to identify their work. Lady Gaga, for example started off as a singer and is now known for her acting. So give yourself, your reference staff, and patrons a searching boost by adding relator codes to all your records and explore the diversity of individual creators in your catalog.

Inauguration Day Special!

It’s almost Inauguration time. While we can all agree that it’s been an incredibly polarizing and tense political season, the government has a lot of responsibilities which affect everyone in this country.  This is why so many people are passionate about government; it provides an outlet for ideas and action, be they big or small.

Government and politics also plays a large role in the cultural and artistic world. Much great, and tragic, art has been generated in response to acts of politics and government, from Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, an anti-war painting depicting the bombing of a Basque Country village in Spain by a coalition of the Nazi Germany, Italian Fascists, and Spanish Nationalists, to the empowering image by J. Howard Millier of Rosie the Riveter. The artistry and educational value of comic books have also been used by the government to promote government agendas and by individual artists as a mode of critique and criticism.

Here are a few fun, educational, and entertaining resources and comics with a political tone.

For those interested in the government’s hand in comics….
University of Nebraska Government Comics Digital Collection

2017-03-unGovernments worldwide have used comics as an educational and propaganda tool for many decades. From Captain America: Battle of the Energy Drainers to Don’t be a Sugar Daddy to Moon Shiners, the United States Government has commissioned comics on a wide variety of topics, which have been digitized by the University of Nebraska. During several international wars, comic book creators were used to create easily digestible, yet content rich, instructional comics for soldiers, including Will Eisner’s M16A1 Rifle: Operation and Preventable Maintenance from 1968. The University of Nebraska Digital Collection contains numerous digitized comics, posters, and other comic ephemera from around the world. Curated by Richard Graham, Associate Professor of University Libraries, the collection grows continuously, so be sure to check back for new content regularly all of which can be downloaded and read for free.

For those history buffs…
.Cartoons for Victory by Warren Bernard

2017-03-cartoons-for-victoryArt as propaganda has been around for centuries, as far back as 515 B.C. While many conjure a negative idea when they think of propaganda, it has the ability to mobilize people, for good or for bad, around a unified cause. In Warren Bernard’s thoroughly researched Cartoons for Victory, readers experience firsthand single page cartoons, advertisements, and comic strips featuring beloved comic book characters during World War II. Learn about Victory Gardens with Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Little Orphan Annie will teach you how to recycle everything, and Donald Duck will encourage you to buy War Bonds. Powerhouse cartoonists like Will Eisner and Charles Addams’ wartime work are highlighted in this oversized tome. Not only do these cartoons provide primary examples of war art, but also speak to the socioeconomic and cultural changes brought about by World War II including the increase of women in the workforce and segregated African American troops.

For those who believe in presidential conspiracies…
Letter 44 by Charles Soule, Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque, Guy Major and Dan Jackson

2017-03-letter-44It is tradition that the outgoing POTUS leaves a letter for the incoming commander and chief. Sometimes, they are comical, others deal with the difficulties the new president has ahead of them. Imagine that you are set to become president of the most powerful nation in the world. You are responsible for critical, global altering events, like the military forces and the global economy, but the outgoing president tells you something you never expected. We found aliens, seven years ago, and our crew is nearly there to investigate. We are not alone. That’s exactly what happened to President Stephen Blades in Letter 44, not only must he manage the politics on planet, he must also direct a crew of 9 astronauts millions of miles away to negate a galactic war.

For those who need something much, much lighter…
Citizen Jack by Sam Humphries and Tommy Patterson

2017-03-citizen-jackAs we learned from Leslie Knope in the TV series Parks and Recreations, and perhaps some real life politicians, if you’ve got a secret, being in politics can be difficult. When a small town impeached mayor with family and alcohol issues is elected to the highest office in the land, there must be a secret weapon in his arsenal. Voter fraud? Financial benefactors? A secret organization? Commune with the devil? Close, Jack Northworthy’s secret weapon is his relationship with a demon name Marlinspike and a mysterious campaign manager willing to do anything to get him elected. With a campaign slogan like, “It’s time for American to get Jacked,” what could go wrong in this horror comedy by Sam Humphries and Tommy Patterson?

Grab your popcorn and favorite libation and enjoy the Inauguration… or some great comics.

All New, All Hip Comics!

Comic books have had several eras with distinct writing and artistic styles. In the 90s, barrel chested men with too many abs and pouches and women with, um, no place to put pouches or pockets ruled the comic book store. In the 00s, there was a huge increase in dark, brooding comics and the ramp up to the boom in the indie comics movement solidly starting in 2012 with Saga and Ed Brubaker’s move to independent comics.

If you walk into a comic book store right now, you may notice a new wave of comics geared at a hip, young audience. Characteristics of these books include: plucky protagonists, bright colors, communal living, and seamless political commentary.  There are many titles which exemplify this new era of comic book storytelling.2017-02-hellcat Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! about Patsy Walker, a real life comic book character who lives with a telekinetic roommate and runs a temp agency for super-abled people who need work; The Wicked + the Divine where reincarnated gods are pop stars and make the most of their two year life span, Batgirl of Burnside in which a teenaged Barbara Gordon must solve mysteries while keeping a lid on her secret identity from her roommates, and even the DC Comics/Hanna Barbera launch of The Flintstones comic, which I will let the summary from DC Comic’s website speak to the hip-ness of this book, “Welcome to Bedrock, where Paleolithic humans head to dinner for a taste of artisanal mammoth after shopping at Neandertall & Big Men’s Clothing, where Wilma shows her modern art, and where, if you take a plane, you could literally end up sitting ON the tail section.”

There are a few theories I have about why this shift away from brooding, mysteriously independently wealthy superhero and in are the sarcastic, hipster, multiple jobs holding superheroes, took hold. Many comics are being written by younger authors with different life perspectives which is reflective in their art. They also started off in WebComics and Zines fostering an incredible DIY attitude and a stronger, more independent voice. It seems like no subject is taboo anymore. There are gay, lesbian, transgender, single parents, political activists, financially unstable, Muslim, and many more diverse characters, and many more female lead books, albeit most of them are cancelled after a trade or two, in comics than ever before. As seen time and time again, representation matters, it makes people feel honored and welcomed. Just check out this amazing story about Diego Luna’s accent in Star Wars: Rogue One.

But not all people appreciate the current comic book trends.

I just read Mockingbird vol.1: I Can Explain by novelist Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As I read it, I felt that Bobbi Morse was a relatable character dealing with a lot of issues women deal with in a very sarcastic way. She felt like aspects of my friends and I all rolled into one and as a long time comic book reader, it felt great. Bobbi looks like a normal person and acts like a normal person while juggling her superheroing duties.

2017-02-mmocking-bird-coverMany have praised the change in comics to represent a more diverse readership. Others have rallied against it. After the release of Mockingbird #8, in which Bobbi wears a t-shirt that says, “Ask me about my feminist agenda,” and Cain’s announcement on Twitter that the series was cancelled, Cain received death threats, abusive messages, and had her home address posted online. You can read more about why Cain left Twitter on her personal blog.

Our world is filled with many people with diverse views which are manifested in many library collections. Most do not see libraries as an art gallery, but they are filled with the expressions of artists in the forms of films, music, books and anything you can think of that a library collects. It is extremely unfortunate that Cain received personal threats in response to her art. We are beginning to see a culture of demands rather than dialogue. It is perfectly okay to disagree with an artistic sentiment, but it is more important to open a dialogue and ask why an artist represents a person the way they do instead of dismissing them and assigning labels. Check out this in action by reading the CBLDF’s article about artistic censorship in the Capitol in which Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland satated, “In America, if you don’t like a painting you see in a display, you simply move on to the next one. You don’t take it down.”

Libraries are quintessential to opening paths of dialogues. Not only do we provide original texts, but also items which allow people to question or dig deeper into the opinions expressed by the original item and develop their own opinion. But it is up to the individual and those around them to challenge themselves to look deeper into the opinions they hear and take an empathetic and compassionate stance towards people with differing opinions.

So I ask fans of all sorts, instead of a knee jerk, name calling, threat hurling  reaction to a book you disagree with, start asking questions like why does the author/artist/publisher think this is important? Who would find this book enjoyable and why? Why do I have such a vitriolic reaction to it? Your opinions are always your own and you have just as much ownership over them as does someone whose  opinion you disagree with, but consider opening up a dialogue instead of instantly shutting down someone’s artistic expression.

And, as always read more comics. Read comics you love, pick something up you’d never want to read.