Shy Librarians love GNs & Joe Matt

SHY ARCHIVE ARTICLE: Vol. 3, No. 1: Spring 2003

The Comics' Librarian    |    Stephen Weiner    |    April 15, 2003

Over the past several months, graphic novels have become a hot topic in libraries, in library literature, and at library conferences. Many collection development aids have either started reviewing graphic novels or have beefed up their graphic novel reviewing sections, while vendors scramble to provide librarians with the best graphic novel acquisition services available.

Librarians have to ask themselves if these services put too great an emphasis on popular materials. Although it is important to collect books that will grab the patron's attention, it’s equally important to strengthen the fine art component of your library's graphic novel collection.

The adult fiction prose collection may rely on best sellers such as Danielle Steele or Robert Parker, but most libraries also buy books by writers such as Louise Erdrich and Saul Bellow. This same diversity often exists in most divisions within a library's collection.

Librarians should consider purchasing graphic novels that help the parameters of the comics' industry expand. Some graphic novel publishing companies, such as CrossGen (, have reformatted their product to make it more accessible to the library field. This trend will grow in the future, and librarians may see graphic novels specifically developed for the library market.

This is a complete turnaround from the mid-1950s, when the government attempted to close the comic book industry down on charges that it encouraged juvenile delinquency. One major difference that occurred during the last 50 years is the creation of a "library" of quality graphic novels.

With that in mind, the books selected for this issue's column probably won't circulate to the degree a superhero or manga book might. However, given consistent attention, these books will deepen your library's collection and help educate the reading public to the wide array of quality graphic novels available.

Autobiographical cartoonist Joe Matt serves up an unsentimental tale of childhood obsession with comic books while portraying the protagonist himself as a collection of obsessions and traumas. This books offers a biting look at comic book fans by a seasoned cartoonist.

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