Comic Books Comic Books!

Ok, ok, so I know that they are now called graphic novels but really they are just the nickel, dime, twelve cent, fifteen cent (I could go on but I am already starting to get scared) comix of our callow youth.  We kids in the neighborhood traded copies of Superman, Batman, Archie, Little Lulu; Donald Duck; G.I. Joe and read and read and read them until they were tattered and torn.  Then we'd read them some more.

Our parents hated them but we were in love.  We could buy mini-spy cameras and sea monkeys and laugh at the silliness or thrill at the heroics of the costumed crusaders. We didn't have comix in the library when I was a kid.  Richer neighbor kids had to buy 'em and share 'em.

But in the seventies, something changed.  Charlie Brown got popular and books featuring his characters and other newspaper comic characters starting coming out and libraries - gasp- started buying them.  As a college student and young librarian I was a total comix hound and collector.  I also knew that Marvel and DC were publishing books of their characters and wanted them in the library too.  I couldn't get them through any of the book wholesalers we dealt with so I would drive two hours to my comix store and buy them there for the library.  They got cataloged into the 741.5s but at least we had 'em.

Fast forward twenty years and library jobbers starting stocking "graphic novels" - material illustrated like a comic and that also included manga and anime.  One of my favorite stories is when BWI started offering graphic novels a colleague at a nearby library almost had an apoplectic fit and threatened to withdraw her business since they were now stocking trash (um, I could argue trash on all sorts of titles and authors through the centuries). But many libraries embraced them and started separate graphic novel collections.

Now fast forward to December 2010 and there is a movement afoot to start a Comic and Graphic Novel interest group at ALA. I am all for it.  If you are an GN/Comix advocate and an ALA member, click on over to 8bitlibrary.com to read all about it and sign the petition.  It's a great way to get ourselves together and to support a format in libraries that speaks to all ages with eye-popping and thought provoking art and text.

Image: 'DC Hero Minifigs - Wave 4'   http://www.flickr.com/photos/86805026@N00/2564337011

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