Who\'s Afraid of Comic Books?


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Presented at CLA Annual 2010 on behalf of BAYA with Jack Baur.

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  • AJF: Jack is a Teen Services Librarian with the Berkeley Public Library system and BAYA webmaster. He is a native reader of comic books and was personally asked by Nancy Pearl to write the chapter on comic books in the upcoming new edition of Genreflecting. Please welcome Jack Baur.
  • Art form, not genre Though a certain type of story (superheroes) is what we are used to seeing presented through comics in the US, there is no limit to the types of stories that can be told! That means that there is a comic book for EVERY reader that is willing to read it.
  • Add picture of Comix Club!
  • Name two wildly different comics in terms of content, story and style?
  • While comic books and graphic novels are interchangeable, manga and anime are not. Manga=Japanese comic books while Anime=Japanese animation. Throughout our presentation today, when we discuss comic books and graphic novels, we are including manga as well. Despite being hit by the overall publishing downturn, Manga is increasingly popular, especially among teen girls and according to a June 22 nd article in Publishers Weekly: Dark Horse reported sales of its manga have grown 13% this year.
  • It’s standard among the majority of libraries to not interfile titles and have graphic novels collected for the big three audiences: Childrens, Teens and Adults. MCFL is in the process of transitioning from standard call numbers from fiction and non-fiction to GN collection codes. It is recommended that libraries organize series by title rather than author. Don’t reinvent the wheel: the Williamsburg Regional Library has an exhaustive how-to for organizing graphic novels and is included in our resources sheet.
  • Teens like them, and so do adults! Good bridge to the teen collection from the Childrens’ section.
  • A study released earlier this year by the Canadian Council on Learning: More than just funny books: Comics and prose literacy for boys found the format can be especially effective in boosting the reading achievement of boys, who typically lag behind their female peers in the subject, in fact the study shows that comic books are often gateway books to additional literary resources, especially second language learners and teens who suffer from dyslexia and similar learning disorders. This study is chock full of information to support the value and need for comic book collections in a library. American Born Chinese by Gene Lang.
  • Adult interest = super high circs! Stats In Christian Zabriskie of Queens Public Library “Superbooks:  How Graphics Can Save Your Library” ALA presentation graphics had better value for their dollar investment than even high-interest titles such as the Twilight and Harry Potter series (about 38 cents per circ). I know in my own experience, I have never had a comic book show up on a dusty list that was on the shelf. And, a lot of comics, particularly manga, are also read in the stacks, more so than most other collections.
  • JB trivia question
  • Your comics will get stolen. Hopefully you’ll get a dozen circs out of them first, but it is a high-theft collection. Before you start collecting in earnest, your system should decide what to do about theft – will you replace stolen items or not? This can be particularly frustrating with manga, which are very popular and are frequently very long series – anyone collecting Naruto will tell you that. It’s frustrating for librarians to have to keep replacing volumes, but it’s also frustrating for patrons to not be able to find them!
  • The number one obstacle: library staff. Never had a patron challenge to a comic book, have had several staff challenges, as well as the typical “this could be a problem” challenge. Make it policy that staff follow reconsideration procedures-no shortcuts. Don’t worry about the naysayers, concentrate on winning over the majority of staff. Promote the collection with booklists and reader’s advisory tools and be gracious about having the best stats in the collection. Bookhunter by Jason Shiga
  • Challenges! As I mentioned earlier-I’ve never had a patron challenge to a comic book. Historically, both Maus by Art Speigelman and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi have been challenged in the system, particularly as teen titles. Be sure to have a solid collection development and reconsideration policy in place and that all staff are trained on these procedures. Remember, patron’s have a right to provide feedback and request that titles be reviewed and reconsidered. And if a patron wants to spend the time to challenge Maus or Persepolis, both award winning titles taught in schools, that’s their right. And it’s your right and duty to defend them. The bottom line is that if your library carries and defends the Harry Potter series (the most challenged books of the last decade), your library should carry and defend comic books.
  • Ratings! The Comics Code Authority was established in 1954 by the Comics Magazine Association of America in response to public concern regarding sex and violence in comics and loosely modeled on the Hayes Code. However, the CCA was much more restrictive and severely enforced. Most major publishers no longer submit to the code or only submit certain lines and today’s ratings are descendants of the CCA and vary by publisher. For example, Marvel has changed their ratings three times since introducing them in 2001 (PG+, PSR+ and T+ and up) all for teen and up). Fascinating side note: MPAA won’t allow comics to use their trademarked ratings system. So use them to your advantage, but be aware of their weaknesses.
  • What popular humor magazine started off as a comic before moving to a magazine format in 1955, allowing it to dodge the censorships imposed by the Comics Code Authority?
  • Like most libraries, MCFL uses B&T, however, both B&T and BWI offer standing order plans. These are worth their weight in gold. Add your must have series titles and authors to the list and you don’t have to think about them again. If you use B&T, customize your cart and keep an excel spreadsheet of series titles. Don’t forget to use non-traditional selection resources such as twitter. Many writers, artists and publishers have twitter feeds.
  • Previews: Available through Diamond distributors or from your comic book store. Info about EVERYTHING that’s coming out 4 months from now. Can be overwhelming, but if you’re Wizard: the long-running “Guide to Comics” that has recently broadened to cover all corners of geek media – comics, movies, and video games. A good subscription purchase for your patrons. Not a lot of them will know about it, but if promoted many will enjoy it. CRB = Comic Book Resources: Lots of reviews, blogs, lists, etc. Tends to be critical… in a good way. NYT: Now runs a list of bestselling “graphic books.” Divided by hardcover, softcover, and manga. Amazon: User reviews! A lot of the time the user reviews will be written by fans, so you can get their perspective on what is good in a series and which volumes are essential!
  • Various apps and platforms offer digital and mobile access to comics, most notably Overdrive’s Marvel and Tokoyo Pop collections. Manga lovers have a long history of scanlation (fans will scan, translate and distribute manga as a means of getting fresh material, initially via mails, later via the Internet), so are accustomed to digital comics and the current generation of children are not attached to print books as we are and they don’t share our nostalgia. *Note* DC and Marvel are opening up independent subscription offerings, and the latest issue of Wizard magazine is arguing that the iPad is the best way to read comics while at New York Comic-Con, Alison Hendon, the Youth Selection Team Leader at Brooklyn Public Library’s panel “Print vs. Digital—War, Co-existence, or Collaboration,” advocates that digital comics will never replace their physical counterparts, but rather accompany them.
  • Take every opportunity to attend San Diego Comic-Con, Alternative Press Expo and/or WonderCon. You’ll be able to talk first hand with artists, writers, publishers and primary users. Plus, you’ll score the best and most impressive swag. Your teen patrons will be beyond impressed to know you went. If nothing else, go for the swag.
  • Just get to know them! Stop in and introduce yourself. Tell them you work at the library. Remember: you’re both in the business of serving readers! Comic book stores are very aware of the library’s position to create readers in the community. AND they KNOW what comics people in the community are buying. Ask them for recommendations! If you have a little collection money to spare, see if you can go and spend it there. Frequently local stores will offer you a discount if you’re buying for the library.
  • What does the DC in DC Comics stand for?
  • Join BAYA! It’s the best bang for your buck. Please email us with questions! Presentation will be on BAYA website by December 1 Also, Jack will be speaking again today at…
  • Who\'s Afraid of Comic Books?

    1. 1. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Building and Maintaining Graphic Novel Collections in Your Library Presented by BAYA Watchmen , Alan Moore CLA Annual Conference Sacramento, CA Sunday, November 14, 2010
    2. 2. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Amanda Jacobs Foust Acting Electronic Services Librarian Marin County Free Library
    3. 3. Jack Baur Teen Services Librarian Berkeley Public Library Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Jeff! Smith! Author of Bone
    4. 4. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Comics Are… Understanding Comics , Scott McCloud
    5. 5. <ul><li>“ Just to be polite, he followed up by inquiring, ‘Oh, yes? Which comics have you written?’ So I mentioned a few titles, which he nodded at perfunctorily; and I concluded, ‘I also did this thing called Sandman .’ At that point he became excited and said, ‘Hang on, I know who you are. You’re Neil Gaiman!’ I admitted that I was. ‘My God, man, you don’t write comics,’ he said. ‘You write graphic novels!’ “He meant it as a compliment, I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who’d been informed that she wasn’t actually a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening. This editor had obviously heard positive things about Sandman ; but he was so stuck on the idea that comics are juvenile he couldn’t deal with something good being done as a comic book. He needed to put Sandman in a box to make it respectable.“ </li></ul><ul><li>- Neil Gaiman </li></ul>Who’s Afraid of Comic Books?
    6. 6. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Pick the Graphic Novel! Sandman #1 40 pages Most single issues are 22 pages long Preludes & Nocturnes Collects Sandman #1-8 240 pages Absolute Sandman v.1 Collects Sandman #1-20, plus extras 612 pages
    7. 7. Wait, Isn’t This Just Pointless Semantics?!
    8. 8. Giveaway!
    9. 9. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Manga too! http://photos.jasondunn.com
    10. 10. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Organization
    11. 11. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Teen Appeal
    12. 12. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Reluctant Readers American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
    13. 13. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Circulation Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Vol. 1 by Joss Whedon
    14. 14. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Value Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
    15. 15. Giveaway!
    16. 16. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Wear and Tear
    17. 17. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Theft Amazing Fantasy #15
    18. 18. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Reluctant Staff Bookhunter by Jason Shiga
    19. 19. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Challenges Maus by Art Spiegelman
    20. 20. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Ratings The Spirit by Will Eisner
    21. 21. Giveaway!
    22. 22. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Selection Detective Comics #359
    23. 23. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Resources <ul><li>Good Reads Who’s Afraid of Comic Books ? List </li></ul><ul><li>http://tinyurl.com/cla-baya1 </li></ul><ul><li>GNLIB-L Graphic Novels in Libraries Listserv (Yahoo Groups) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GNLIB-L/ </li></ul><ul><li>More than just funny books: Comics and prose literacy for boys </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.cclcca.ca/CCL/Reports/LessonsInLearning/LinL20100721Comics.html </li></ul><ul><li>Comic Book Project </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.comicbookproject.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>Comic Shop Locator </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Book Clubs in a Box </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.calbook.org/bcb/comix.html </li></ul><ul><li>Early Word Newsletter (Robin Brenner’s Go Graphic! Column) </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.earlyword.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Graphic Novel Reporter </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.graphicnovelreporter.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/greatgraphicnovelsforteens/ggnt10.cfm </li></ul><ul><li>Graphic Novel Cataloging </li></ul><ul><li>http://wrltechserv.pbworks.com/w/page/14495767/Graphic-Novel-Cataloging </li></ul><ul><li>Cooperative Children’s Book Center </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/graphicnovels.asp </li></ul>
    24. 24. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Resources
    25. 25. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Resources for Selection
    26. 26. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Digital Comics
    27. 27. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Conventions
    28. 28. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Know Your Comic Book Store
    29. 29. Who’s Afraid of Comic Books? Free Comic Book Day <ul><li>Contact your stores in early February for a list of titles and order deadlines </li></ul><ul><li>Select books from roughly two dozen offerings </li></ul><ul><li>Price per book is 12 to 40 cents </li></ul><ul><li>Make it an event! Promote at schools and in your library </li></ul><ul><li>Offer activities, games snacks, guest speakers, or whatever you have on hand </li></ul><ul><li>Raffle off GN ARCs, or ask local bookstores for donations </li></ul><ul><li>Promote your GN collection and surprise people! </li></ul>
    30. 30. Giveaway!
    31. 31. Questions? <ul><li>Thank you! </li></ul><ul><li>Join! BAYA: http://baya.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>Annual Membership: $15! </li></ul>Jack Baur [email_address] Amanda Jacobs Foust [email_address]