Eisner Awards Breakdown

eisner_award_sealLast week at San Diego Comic Con, the Eisner Award winners were announced. I have some pretty general thoughts about the winners. I’m super excited for Jill Thompson for her three Eisner wins, including her work on Wonder Woman: the True Amazon, which honestly, if you left the Wonder Woman film and said, “I want a whole film set on Themyscira”, this is the book for you. Image’s hit book Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples came away with four Eisners, winning best series four of the last five years, only being ousted by Southern Bastards in 2016. There was also a split of one category into two this year. One of my favorite comics Bandette was has won best digital comic for the past three years; however, this year, the award was split into two separate categories, Best Digital Comics and Best Webcomic, which means more digital artists will be recognized for their work while skipping the publishing gatekeepers.

I did a little back of the envelope calculations because I was curious about representation in a few different categories. What makes the Eisners difficult to analyze is the frequency of duplicate nominees, so, I took a look at both the statistics with and without duplicate winners. While the numbers below are in no way statistically sound, they give a general sense of trends in the comic book industry.

The first broad category I was interested in is the representation of male and female creators at the Eisners. With the #MakeMyAMilkshake storm this weekend after a female Marvel editor posted a selfie of her and her female coworkers enjoying a milkshake, only to be contacted with comments about how women are “ruining” comics, I really wanted to see how women are represented.

According to a March article from Vice.com, 16% of Marvels creators were female. This underrepresented the number of women who won Eisners in 2017. With duplicates, 71% of the winners were male, 29% female and without duplicates, 77% were males and 23% were females. So we can see that few women are nominated overall because they tend to win multiple awards. This is not intended to take away from their accomplishments, both Fiona Staples and Jill Thompson are exceptional artists and creators and serial multiple Eisner Award winners; however, as more women enter the comic book field, I hope we see more, and different women, nominated and winner prestigious comic awards.

saga-coverIn line with the gender of the creators, I was also interested in the representation of the characters in Eisner nominated books. Including duplicate winners, primarily male lead comics was 44% of the winners, female lead comics 32% and ensemble casts at 24%. When removing duplicate winners, males were 46%, females 36% and ensembles 18%. So, male centered books are still in the lead, but not by much. What else is interesting is looking at the breakdown of the ensembles. Saga is about a family seen by the world around them as an abomination, The Wicked + the Divine is about a pantheon of gods, Beasts of Burden follows a clan of dogs and cats as they protect the world from evil, all these ensembles have the distinct theme of family.

Did any of your favorite comics or creators win at the Eisner’s this year? Anyone you think really should have been nominated, but was looked over? Let me know on Twitter @librnwithissues


Three Ways to Catalog Graphic Novel Series

Cataloging graphic novel series is difficult. With title changes, re-numbering, cross over events, and the whole gambit of inconsistencies, settling on a way to catalog series, and sticking to it, brings stress to many catalogers and collection development librarians. A perfect example is the current trade paperback of Hulk, or is it She-Hulk? All the single issues had the title Hulk, but now the trade is being released with the title She-Hulk. Antics like this are one of the many reasons why catalogers dislike working with comic book series.

There are three types of cataloging records for comic book series; multipart monograph, monographic with series in the 245, and a straight monograph record. Each type has their advantages and disadvantages, but the most important aspect is consistency. If you are consistent with which type of record you use, you will find cataloging comic book series a less painful experience. You’ll want to take an inventory before you begin. How does your ILS and OPAC handle multi-volume items? How large is your graphic novel collection? How do your patrons search for graphic novels?

Let’s use The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, as an examples for the three different ways to catalog comics. This book is a multi-volume series and was part of the Marvel Now!,  event, which re-launched and re-numbered many of their titles at #1.

Squirrel girl #1

I’m going to present only snippets of MARC records, the parts which pertain to the uniqueness of cataloging comic book series.

Multipart Monograph 

Think of how you usually catalog a set of encyclopedias; you don’t catalog each volume individually, you create a multipart monograph record and add a 505 contents note for each individual volume. Then, you can add the volume number to the call number so all the items are on the same record.

020 ## $a 9780785197027 $q (vol. 1 ; $q paperback)
020 ## $a 9780785197034 $q (vol. 2 ; $q paperback)
100 10 $a North, Ryan, $e author.
245 14 $a The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl / $c Ryan North, Erica Henderson [and others].
300 ## volumes : $b color illustrations ; $c 28 cm
490 1# Marvel now
505 00 $g Volume 1. $t Squirrel Power — $g Volume 2. $t Squirrel you know it’s true.
650 #0 Women superheroes $v Comic books, strips, etc.
650 #0 Good and evil $v Comic books, strips, etc.
655 #7 $a Comics (Graphic works) $2 lcgft
655 #7 $a Graphic novels $2 lcgft
700 1# $a Henderson, Erica, $e illustrator.
830 #0 Marvel now!

There are many benefits to having individual volumes of a graphic novel on the same record. Patrons can see every volume you have in stock at once because every volume will be attached to the same bibliographic record. Depending on how your ILS generates circulation statistics, this can be an easy way to see waning interest in a series due to declining circulation throughout the individual items. Before you select this option, you’ll want to make sure your OPAC can place holds based on an individual item. If that isn’t possible, this is not a good choice for you.

As a comic book fan, one of my problems with this type of cataloging record is when authors or artists change between trades, they very often don’t make it into the record as a 700 added access point and/or are not added to the 245. Every once in awhile, you’ll see a proactive cataloger who creates a 500 note for each individual trade stating the name of the trade and the creators. Also, because you are including several trades on the same record, you can’t have specific subject headings, they have to be broad enough to describe the series as a whole. So if in one trade Squirrel Girl is battling aliens, and the next panda , you can’t really include Extraterrestrials and Pandas on the series record. It doesn’t give you the granularity available in some of the other options (although I’d LOVE for a patron to ask for a comic book featuring pandas!).

Series in the Title

020 ## $a 9780785197027 $q (paperback)
100 10 $a North, Ryan, $e author.
245 14 $a The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. $n Volume 1, $p Squirrel power / $c Ryan North, Erica Henderson [and others].
246 30 $a Squirrel power
300 ## 1 volume : $b color illustrations ; $ 28 cm
490 1# Marvel now
500 ## Collects issues 1-5.
650 #0 Women superheroes $v Comic books, strips, etc.
650 #0 Good and evil $v Comic books, strips, etc.
650 #0 College students $v Comic books, strips, etc.
655 #7 $a Comics (Graphic works) $2 lcgft
655 #7 $a Graphic novels $2 lcgft
700 1# $a Henderson, Erica, $e illustrator.
830 #0 Marvel now!

You’ll notice how all the series information is in the 245 field. Most OPACS display all the information before the subfield c as the main source of information, so patrons will be able to see the series, volume, and trade title from a hit list. This is great for browsers but can be problematic with titles, like Green Arrow, which has been re-numbered several times with the same series title. In those situations, you have to rely on other information, such as publication year or author to find the next volume in that iteration of the series. Using this method, you’ll have many more records in your system and run the risk of duplicates.


If you chose to catalog your comics as monographs, you are treating them each as an individual book.

020 ## $a 9780785197027 $q (paperback)
100 10 $a North, Ryan, $e author.
245 14 $a Squirrel power / $c Ryan North, Erica Henderson [and others].
246 30 $a Squirrel power
300 ## 1 volume : $b color illustrations ; $ 28 cm
490 1# Marvel now
[Optional] 490 0# Unbeatable Squirrel Girl ; $v Volume 1
500 ## Collects issues 1-5.
650 #0 Women superheroes $v Comic books, strips, etc.
650 #0 Good and evil $v Comic books, strips, etc.
650 #0 College students $v Comic books, strips, etc.
655 #7 $a Comics (Graphic works) $2 lcgft
655 #7 $a Graphic novels $2 lcgft
700 1# $a Henderson, Erica, $e illustrator.
830 #0 Marvel now!

One thing to note about my above example. I included an untraced 490 series statement. You somehow want your monographic records to be connected, and the 490 0# is a great place to do that. If you choose to go this route, see if your ILS indexes this field and makes sure you are using the same spelling for each trade.

Whichever type of record you choose to use, remember that consistency is key. Which way do you catalog your graphic novels?

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.

Comfort Comics for When Life is Rough

Unfortunately, I was emotionally unable to write the past two weeks due to personal issues which left me quite shaken. Someone broke into our apartment, grabbed a lot of stuff, and left the back door wide open. Everyone is alright, but I just needed some time to get personal and emotional affairs in order before I could focus on writing again.

It was a bit bizarre, right before this incident, I picked up The Book of Hygge: the Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort and Connection by Louisa Thomsen Brits. Hygge has been making the rounds lately and is essentially a philosophy of presentness and contentment in the moment, taking joy in small things that create a sense of coziness and security for ourselves and the people around us. Well, I was feeling awfully insecure and uncozy after the burglary and I sought out my comfort comics. So today, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite comfort comics, the comics that when I’m feeling sad or lonely or vulnerable, I pick up and feel better. Thank you to the creators and publisher for creating stories to soothe the soul.

Cat Getting Out of A Bag and Other Observations
By Jeffrey Brown
Published by Chronicle Books

2017.22 cat getting out of a bag

You may recognize Jeffrey Brown from his widely popular series Darth Vader and Kids and Jedi Academy Star Wars comics. Brown’s simple and charming style is accessible and comforting in times which call for a short break, a cup of something warm, and a big grin. Most pages are simple 3×3 grid vignettes about quintessentially cat things; begging for attention only to eat a plant, sitting in boxes and getting stuck, and refusal to be seen by the vet. What I love about Cat Getting Out of a Bag is how much it reminds me of my relationship with my cat, Jonesy, and I’m sure the relationship most people have with their pets. I talk to him, about him, wonder what he’s up to while I’m at work, he truly is like a child to me. And there’s something magical about cats which lend themselves so well to comics. They are mischievous and coy, self-centered yet crave attention, a whole gambit of emotions difficult to capture on the page, all which Brown captures with delight.

Love is Love
By Various Authors and Artists
Published by IDW and DC Comics

2017.22 love is love

This book is a collaboration of IDW and DC Comics, and also features characters from Archie, many Image titles, and original works. Love is Love is a feat of collaboration spurred from creative reactions to the Orlando Night Club shooting on June 12, 2016. It’s difficult to believe that it’s been almost a year since so many innocent people lost their lives and this book stands as a testament to their memory. Each page is filled with love and understanding, teaching us to be brave and to not accept hate. Some pages are single art pieces while others are two page stories reminding us that that the smallest gesture of kindness can make a big difference. I think this is especially important after falling victim to the harmful act of a fellow human to understand who you react to a situation speaks to your character.

Wonder Woman: the True Amazon
Written and Illustrated by Jill Thompson
Lettered by Jason Arthur

2017.22 wonder woman

Wonder Woman just hit the big screen this past weekend and has been a box office success. If you enjoyed the film, I highly recommend Jill Thompson’s Wonder Woman: the True Amazon. This standalone story looks at Diana’s formative years as a child and young woman on Themyscira, beloved and spoiled by all the Amazons. But when Alethea, a stable worker, does not show Diana the undying affection she’s come to expect, she challenged Diana to be selfless and genuine, a challenge she has difficulty meeting. We all go through bouts of life where we put ourselves before all others, but this book teaches us the importance of seeing yourself as part of a greater society and understanding the sacrifices you, and others, must make for the goodness of others.


Written by Paul Tobin
Illustrated by Colleen Coover

2017.22 Bandette

Oh, the irony. The comic that makes me feel most comfy and cozy is about a petty art thief, but if anyone is going to make you happy, it’s the plucky sticky fingers, Bandette. Set in Paris, a place I found homey during my visits, Bandette is an art thief who has more in her hands than just candy. She embodies a Robin Hoodesque mantra of steal from the rich and give to… well Bandette, who tends to skim a little bit off the top. Along with her urchins, Parisian ballet students, food delivery drivers, and others from her arrondissement and Detective Inspector Belgique, Bandette accomplishes her heists, while enriching her community. This book is truly about seeking out a community you can rely on in your time of need and how friendships are the most priceless jewel in life.

What are your comfort comics? Do you have a title you find yourself going back to time and time again? Let me know On Twitter @librnwithissues

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.



Happy International Tabletop Day!

International Tabletop DayHappy 4th Annual International Tabletop Day! I like all types of board games from childhood classics like 13 Dead End Drive to Scythe and play almost every week with friends. Tabletop games are a great way to bring people together around a table and have competitive or cooperative fun. Over the last 20 years, there has been an incredible Renaissance in tabletop games starting with the popularity of Settlers of Catan in 1995. Since then, you can peruse Kickstarter anytime and find people who want to make amazing games. Many libraries now have board game collections and host board game nights for patrons to try new games. As someone with a proclivity for storytelling games, I often think of comic book characters and storylines while playing tabletop games (my first D&D character was a rogue who was essentially Bandette…without me realizing until level 4!).  To celebrate, here are some comics to check out if you like board games. Be sure to check out Twitter for more suggestions throughout the day. Game On!

2017.14 gloom final

Gloom by Atlas Game, is probably my favorite game ever. It’s a storytelling game in which each player has a gothicly horrific family they are trying to make as depressed as possible and kill, while making the other characters as happy as possible. Once a player kills off their last family member, the player with the ‘lowest’ score wins. Gloom is populated by Frankensteinian scientific families, traveling circuses, and the lords of the moors. If the alliterations in the actions cards don’t kill you, “terrified by topiary,” “distressed by ducks,” “driven to drink,” etc. then the death card “was eaten by bears” will. This is a fun game with a unique style that even the most hesitant of storytellers can get into.

The world of Gloom is a straight forward, if a bit darker, interpretation of the gothic era where as The Motherless Oven by English comic creator Rob Davis is a dystopian science fiction world that feels as foreboding as the looming death of Gloom. When the weather clock says it’s knife o’clock, you better lock dad up in the shed, tuck mother away in the cupboard under the stairs, and sit down to enjoy the Wednesday Wheel safe within your home. The Motherless Oven requires the reader to accept the fact that people have assigned death dates, parents look like 3rd grade art projects and are made by the children they care for, it periodically rains knives, and the police are geriatric officers in a slow moving jalopies. Scraper Lee, a teen slowly approaching his death day, befriends Vera Pike, a new and oddly independent student, and Castro Smith, a student with Interference Syndrome who talks with the ever present gods of egg timers, can openers, and light switches. They run away to find Scraper’s escaped father only to arrive at the end of the known world. The black and white watercolor inspired art is gorgeous and adds to the ominous nature of this book. Great for a rainy, dark night.

Hellboy Board Game Suggestions

There are some board games that require skill, concentration, and a whole lot of time. Many of these games have a Cthulhu theme like Eldritch and Arkham Horror, both Fantasy Flight games. These games require your character to maintain a balance of sanity, aggression, and strategy as you attempt to close portals and keep the old ones quiet in their slumber. You can be a magician, occultist, or driver, but if you get too close to the old ones, you’ll be out of the game. Can you and your teammates prevent the non Euclidean geometric figures from invading our reality, or will you have to convalesce in the Australian outback after seeing the great old one? These games are incredibly difficult, so don’t be discourage if it takes you several play throughs before figuring out a strategy to win.

One comic book character who is more close to the old gods than any other is Hellboy, the over 20 year old character from Mike Mignola. It is a historical fact that the Nazi regime was interested in occult and supernatural objects, which is the basis of Mignola’s story. A German operative, the Russian mystic Rasputin, is trying to summon an other worldly power at the height of World War II; however, a young demon appears and is taken in by an American occult team and taught to use his stone hand and incredible strength for good. While there will always be forces in the world trying to use Hellboy for evil and chaos, his light hearted nature, and love for pancakes, keeps him fighting for the good guys.

2017.14 fresh romance final

Not all games require apps, huge tables, and three hours. Some like Love Letter by AEG games, are the perfect game to throw in your backpack and play while waiting for food or having a casual drink with friends. As we’ve all learned from our high school English classes, it can be difficult for a young Romeo to get a letter to his fair Juliet to declare their love, and in this game, you are trying to get a love letter to the prince or princess and win a token of their affection. Each player has two cards of varying values and abilities. You play a card and resolve the ability in the hopes of knocking out the other players or ending the round with the card with the highest value. Many people will help you get your letter to royalty including the lowly Clown to the stately General. And for those comic fans, there is also a Batman version.

I like Love letter because it is has a simple and effective premise, love will conquer, which is also a central theme of the anthology Fresh Romance. With contributors like Kate Leth, Marguerite Bennett, and Sarah Winifred Searle, among others, Fresh Romance explores four drastically different love stories each unique and heartwarming with a fresh look at what love means. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast shows compassion and empathy, whereas Ruined is about a Georgian Era woman who is quickly married off to a stranger to save her, and her family’s, reputation. The distinct art styles for each story helps to transport the reader completely to the new story, making the anthology exciting yet cohesive. The book made me eager for more modern, romance comics featuring unique and diverse characters.

2017.14 manhattan project

One of the first modern, worker placement games I’ve played was Minion Game’s Manhattan Project. It’s the dawn of the nuclear age, and each player is attempting to make the ultimate bomb and earn the most victory points first. The board looks like an old factory cork board with all of the different moves your workers, scientist, and engineers can make during your turn. As you build factories, universities, and reactors, your workers can be deployed on your home board as well as the main board, but watch out! Other players can destroy your buildings with air strikes or send their workers to your land as spies and take up the limited spaces where you can place your workers. As you create plutonium and uranium, you can develop bombs, strap them to your bombers and earn victory points. This fun yet competitive game is well paced ensuring all players move at the same pace.

While it may seem a bit on the nose, the comic I’m recommending for the board game Manhattan Project is the Image comic Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. In the game, you have to manage your money, workers, and yellow cake; but in the comic book, you have to manage a stoic Einstein staring at an obelisk, infinite Oppenheimers, President Harry S. Truman as an orgy loving Mason, and FDR is an AI stuck in a television screen. Throw in Richard Feynman and Laika the Russian K9 astronaut and you’ve got all it takes to unlock the mysteries of the universe…maybe. Hickman’s love for infographics and the stark use of colors add science fiction elements to these historically inspired characters. Warning, this book gets weird, but in the best way possible.

Board and card games are a great way to get to know new people and spend quality time with family and friends. What board games do you like to play?

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