Comic Books, Special Collections, and the Academic Library—eEditions PDF e-book

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors

Comic book properties continue to dominate popular culture, and there has been continued growth in the academic field of Comics Studies. Graphic novels and comic trade paperbacks populate the shelves of many academic libraries. Single issue collections of “floppy” comic books, however, tend to find their home in special collections libraries because their flimsy construction, highly acidic paper, and, occasionally, the scarcity of certain specific issues warrants special storage and handling. Thoughtful consideration must go into any decision to begin or sustain these collections.
Comic Books, Special Collections, and the Academic Library collects best practices for the acquisition, preservation, storage, and cataloging of comics, particularly single-issue (or floppy) comics, within the special collections units of academic library collections. Four sections answer:

  • Why Should Your Institution Collect Comics?
  • Your Library Collects or Wants to Collect Comics. Now What?
  • How Do You Engage in Library Instruction and Outreach with Your Comics Collection?
  • How Can Comics Be Used as Primary and Secondary Source Material by Students and Faculty? 

Chapters address challenges specific to comic book collections in academic libraries, such as finding space and funds to build a collection, making diverse and inclusive collections, leading innovative library instruction sessions with comics, and working with undergraduate and graduate students on comics research. Comic Books, Special Collections, and the Academic Library can help you develop, cultivate, grow, catalog, and make use of comic book collections.


Introduction: Approaches to Comics Stewardship: Making the Case for Academic Library Special Collections
Brian Flota and Kate Morris
Part 1. Why Should Your Institution Collect Comics?
Chapter 1: Collecting Comics: Transcending Barriers and Building Community
Yuki Hibben, Andrea Kohashi, and Cindy Jackson
Chapter 2: The Scarcity of Comic Books in American Research Libraries
Kelli Hansen
Chapter 3: Digital Comics and Critical Librarianship: What, Why and How: A Perspective from the UK
Thomas Gebhart
Chapter 4: Creating an Entry Point for Minicomics in an Academic Library
Paul Hanna
Chapter 5: “It’s the Most Revolutionary Text There Is”: Teaching Critical Visual Literacy with Native American, First Nations, and Indigenous Graphic Novels
Jennifer Bowers, Katherine Crowe, and Peggy Keeran
Chapter 6: “More Deadly than the Atom Bomb!”: Anti-Drug Messaging and the Comics Code in 1971
Jessica Nickrand and Nick Borger
Chapter 7: The Silent Voice of the Australian Comic Book: Understanding the Importance of Collecting Locally Produced Comic Books
Daniel Wee
Part 2. Your Library Collects or Wants to Collect Comics. Now What?
Chapter 8: Bibliography, Print Culture, and What to Do with Comic Books in a Rare Books Library
Michael C. Weisenburg
Chapter 9: The Alain Van Passen Collection: A Unique Collection That Offers Unique Opportunities
Paul Buschmann and Beatrijs Goegebuer
Chapter 10: Processing Legacy Comic Book Collections in a Special Collections Library
Jordan Jancosek
Chapter 11: Across the Panels: Non-MARC Metadata for Comic Strips
Annamarie C. Klose and Wendy Pflug
Chapter 12: Unexpected Wins: Curating Comics and Teaching Manga from the Dark Horse Comics Collection
Elsa Loftis and Jon Holt
Part 3. How Do You Engage in Library Instruction and Outreach with Your Comics Collection?
Chapter 13: Rescuing and Cataloging Comic Books in the Newspaper Library of Mexico, Hemeroteca Nacional de México
Laura Nallely Hernández Nieto
Chapter 14: Surveying Three Approaches for Cataloging Comic Books Collections
Wendy Pflug
Chapter 15: Mining the Silver Age: Utilizing a Comic Book Collection in Library Instruction and Exhibits
Randi Beem and Marc Bess
Chapter 16: From Obscurity to Relatability: Translating Historical Editorial Cartoons for Today’s Audience
Elizabeth Call and Rebekah Walker
Part 4. How Can Comics Be Used as Primary and Secondary Source Material by Students and Faculty?
Chapter 17: What About Crowdfunded Comics?
Matthew Murray �� and Mara L. Thacker
Chapter 18: The Whole Picture: Using Comics and Graphic Novels to Supplement Primary Source Instruction with LGBTQ Archives
Meagan May
Chapter 19: The Art of Propaganda: Maoist Lianhuanhua Comics as Historical and Visual Sources
Matthew Wills
Chapter 20: Holy Heroes! Catholic Comic Books in Special Collections
Henry Handley, Stephanie Shreffler, and Jillian Ewalt
About the Authors

Brian Flota

Brian Flota is a humanities librarian at the rank of associate professor in the Libraries at James Madison University. In this position he has collaborated with Special Collections and faculty in the English Department to develop a collection of Black comic books, poetry, and prose. He co-edited the essay collection The Politics of Post-9/11 Music with Joseph P. Fisher (2011) and is the author of A Survey of Multicultural San Francisco Bay Literature, 1955-1979  (2009). He has also produced scholarship on comics and pulp magazine collections in libraries, Ishmael Reed, Richard Pryor, and the Beat Generation.

Kate Morris

Kate Morris is head of special collections, assistant professor rank, within the digital scholarship and distinctive collections department at James Madison University. She provides leadership for the special collections team, and works to acquire and develop collections that document the history of the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the history of JMU. She works with faculty to integrate primary sources into coursework and to acquire rare and unique collections, including a growing collection of comics, that support the curriculum.