As part of Arlington Public Library‘s “Arlington Reads” program, Art Spiegelman talked about his award-winning graphic novel Maus and the importance of comics as part of the library’s Banned Book Week presentation entitled “Get Graphic.” You can watch the presentation on demand for a limited time.
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It’s one of two new comic book days, what are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.
The Beat – Philippines 40th National Book Awards finalists announced – Congrats to all of the nominees!
Kotaku – Surprising Fans, WB’s Smash Bros.-Like Shutters Until 2024 With No Refunds – Well that’s a shame.
Kotaku – GDC Organizers Respond To Reports Women Were Drugged, Assaulted At Off-Site Events – What the fuck!?
The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Charlie gets SIDE QUESTED – Free comics!
It’s new comic book day! What are you all getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for comic shops to open, here’s some comic news from around the web.
HPPR – Texas librarians face harassment as they navigate book bans – Not acceptable. Not ok.
Book Riot – 8 Mandatory Multiverse Comics To Read No Matter What Timeline You Live In – What would you add to the list?
The Mary Sue – Here Are All the Characters and Cast in the ‘Blue Beetle’ Movie (So Far!) – For those wondering.
Comicbook – Japan Politician Pitches New Plan to Curb Anime Industry’s Wage Gaps – Interesting
EveryLibrary Institute creates HALO Fund to help Librarians and Library workers in need of financial assistance due to COVID-19
The EveryLibrary Institute is honoring the hard work of the library workers who support our communities by launching a new grant to help them during these difficult times.
In honor of National Library Worker Day on April 21st, 2020, the EveryLibrary Institute is working with hundreds of library supporters and leading library vendors to provide “cost of living grants” of up to $250 to qualified library workers, librarians, and staff from public, school, and academic libraries who have an urgent financial need. The EveryLibrary Institute is a national 501c3 non-profit with a mission to support the future of libraries and the role of librarians in society.
This campaign is called the Help a Library Worker Out Fund (or HALO Fund) and is a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to help support library workers, librarians, and staff who are facing unexpected financial difficulties because of the Coronavirus and resulting economic slowdown.
To date, the EveryLibrary Institute has raised over $15,000 and they’ve given away nearly $13,000 in grants to library workers in need. What defines that need will be identified by the individual but could include household expenses like groceries, child care, cell phone, internet, gas, insurance, and other bills. The application process is confidential and easy to complete. These grants to individuals and families are to be “unrestricted” and do not have a requirement to be paid back.
Who is eligible to receive a “Help a Library Worker Out” grant?
- Individual library workers, staff, or librarians who have lost wages because of a Coronavirus-related layoff.
- Library workers, staff, and librarians who’s spouse, significant other, co-parent, or housemate has lost wages or a job because of a Coronavirus-related layoff or reduction in hours.
As a national library 501c3 non-profit organization, the EveryLibrary Institute is in a unique position to quickly bring together donors from across the country and make grants to library workers who are part of the library family.
Nine organizations and companies have made matching donations ranging from $250 to $1,500. These organizations include the Awesome Library Foundation who made the initial funding available and Urban Librarians Unite who helped with an early matching grant. Corporate donors include Gale, a Cengage company, EBSCO, Zoobean, Brainfuse, Pikinc, WT Cox, and the Quipu Group.
Libraries are important because they offer the public free access to a wealth of accurate information, whether online, in print or in person. And library workers are more than just people who check out your books. Library workers, including librarians, support staff and employees who make library services possible are what keep these resources running and working.
Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker (R) has introduced a bill meant to “protect children” who visit public libraries. In reality, that bill will lead to censorship and possibly land librarians in jail.
Any library that receives state funding would need to protect minors from “age-inappropriate sexual material.”
The bill would create “parental review boards” made up of five locally elected community members who would review and decide what content would be inappropriate. If that sounds familiar it’s the plot of numerous stories where it’s never worked.
Librarians who “willfully” violate the decisions could be fined $500 or face up to a year in jail.
The concept is censorship and an attack on free expression. It’s book banning and one step away from book burning.
Books with sexual themes, uplifting LGBTQIA+ characters, ones that address sensitive topics, even scientific knowledge, are potentially on the chopping block.
Baker has responded that the books would not be banned but keeps them out of the children’s section. An adult could check the book out for their child. In other words, Baker believes parents are incapable of doing that already and believes in a nanny state.
One benefit of transitioning from the corporate world to the library world is that I get to work with and handle comics (or graphic novels as they like to call them.) on a daily basis. I mean I literally got paid to order and enter the ordering information for the first volume of Saladin Ahmed and Javier Garron’s Miles Morales: Spider-Man comic today and then at my other job at a public library, I got to show a couple of kids (whose first library card I made.) where the Pokemon “comics” were. It’s pretty awesome, but there’s a bittersweet lining to it too.
And that lining is that in the minds of many of the people I interact with at work, whether that’s colleagues or patrons, comics are still solely for kids. Yes, I know it’s a cliche, but it was corroborated by Eric Reynolds, the co-publisher of Fantagraphics in an interview with Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg of the Cartoonist Kayfabe podcast where he talked about how well comics by Dav Pilkey or Raina Telgemaier were selling, but how those sales don’t translate to the adult or even the YA market. Kids comics (and manga) are booming, but unless you’re already into the world of comics, or it’s something evergreen like Watchmen, Maus, or Fun Home, it seems like comics are not a viable reading material for, say, post-college age adults.
And I hate that I don’t feel empowered to recommend comics and graphic novels to adults at my work unless they’re already checking one out. For example, I told a patron who checked out Manhattan Projects to check out Jonathan Hickman’s recent X-Men work and that we would probably be ordering the complete hardcover in the winter. However, if a patron likes spy novels, I probably won’t recommend Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s Velvet or Antony Johnston and Sam Hart’s The Coldest City. I think a lot of this is how the graphic novels are shelved. (In the teens and kids section at one job, and hidden away on the 2nd floor at another.) But it might be a personal thing too.
In my mind as a comics critic/fan and librarian-in-training, I have two wolves inside me. One is out here trying to champion comics as either serious literature or something that can appeal to everyone like young adult dystopian novels, airport novels, or Oprah’s Book Club nonfiction. (She makes some pretty great choices.) Then, there’s another, admittedly bad, wolf that relishes in comics’ history and reputation as the “bastard child of art and commerce” and doesn’t give a shit if the people around me look down on the medium or see it as only fit for children and people, who need help learning how to read. (This is hilariously reductive because comics require both verbal and visual literacy to be understood.) I also enjoy having a little fun and saying things like the latest issue of Batman has more literary value than anything James Patterson and Tom Clancy. (It’s true, especially when Scott Snyder and Grant Morrison were writing the book.)
What both wolves really like to come to blows over is the term “graphic novel”. The good wolf likes to emphasize it when talking to patrons because it reminds them of a currently respected medium. (The novel, which used to be seen as trash once upon a time.) The bad wolf likes to say that it’s a meaningless term, especially for trade paperbacks of ongoing series with multiple writers and artists. Both wolves agree that graphic non-fiction, memoirs, and medicine belong with their respective subjects and not with “graphic novels” because that makes so sense. Would you shelve a non-fiction book about anxiety next to J.D. Robb’s latest vapid thriller?
If I had my way, I would call anything that told a sequential story in both words and images a comic, plain and simple. However, graphic novel does have some marketing value even though some of the ways it’s used and overused are utterly banal. But, hey, if leads to a comic being checked out, I’ll use the word.
I have high hopes that as film and television shows of different genres that are comic book adaptations continue to be released, members of Generation Z keep reading comics even after their teachers and other adults say “They’re below their reading level” (This adds to their punk rock value, to be honest.), and cartoonists like Gene Luen Yang and Ed Piskor speak at prestigious book events (Aka they mainly focus on prose.) that comics will end up being just another item on the reading menu. Maybe, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will get elected president in 2024 and invite Alan Moore (He’ll probably decline.) and Dave Gibbons to chat Watchmen.
But, for now, I need to dig a little deeper and get better at recommending comics to people who aren’t children, teenagers, “geeks”, or fans of science fiction and fantasy. (I got a librarian at my work, who read Mort Weisinger-edited Superman books and 1960s Marvel comics as a child, seriously hooked on Saga.) I need to be a little less precious about semantics and use the term “graphic novel” as a tool for promotion instead of something that numbs my brain and makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I need to understand that some people might not have the visual literacy levels to read and enjoy comics, which is okay.
And my final takeaway is that I need to read more manga. Seriously, I went to a Barnes and Noble in the Louisville, Kentucky suburbs and there were four full rows of manga. Because of the prevalence of public transportation and the lack of a Comics Code incident leading to one genre taking over the industry due to censorship, manga of all genres is easy to obtain in Japan, and maybe it’ll be like that the United States. But, for now, it’s time to crack open Uzumaki by Junji Ito. (Once I knock off all the others on my “to be read” list).
It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.
Newsarama – A Real-Life Joe Kubert Library To Open in New York – More of these please.
The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Explore the creepy vignettes of The Other Side – Free comics!
The Beat – Black Stars Above #1
Newsarama – Contagion #1
Herts Advertiser – Dead Man Logan Vol. 1
Talking Comics – Ghost Rider #1
Talking Comics – House of X #6
Herts Advertiser – Marvel Platinum: The Definite Spider-Man Redux
The American Library Association’s Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT) is partnering with comic creators in support of Library Card Sign-Up Month in September.
For the month of September, the GNCRT will be featuring a new creator each day posing with their library card. Showcasing comic creators in this #GetLibraryCarded campaign spotlights the mutually beneficial relationship between creators and libraries in support of literacy, intellectual freedom, and creative expression – we are stronger together.
This is the first advocacy campaign of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table. The GNCRT coordinates ongoing advocacy and outreach at several national comic conventions including hosting professional development sessions and booth or pop-up libraries including at Comic-Con International: San Diego, C2E2 and New York Comic-Con. The GNCRT is committed to professional development within librarianship – and committed to public outreach and advocacy around comics and graphic novels and comics readership at all levels.
Follow @libcomix and @ALALibrary on Twitter to see your favorite comics creators #GetLibraryCarded! Participating creators include writer/artist Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, Marvel Knights, Painkiller Jane), cartoonist Dav Pilkey (Dog Man, Captain Underpants), artist/editor Christina “Steenz” Stewart (Archival Quality, Rolled & Told), and writer Lilah Sturges (Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass, The Magicians: Alice’s Story), and more.
The weekend is almost here and that means Free Comic Book Day! Who’s excited for the best day of the year which takes place this Saturday! What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.
The Beat – The Death In Uncanny X-Men #17 Is a Trans Panic Murder, & It’s Not OK – An important read and something to think about the latest issue.
Kotaku – Soldier Arrested After Going AWOL To Watch…Avengers: Endgame – That’s some dedication.
Yahoo Finance – Rakuten OverDrive Now Offers Marvel Digital Graphic Novels to Public Libraries and Schools Worldwide – A smart move to move into as many libraries as possible.
The Mary Sue – Why The CW’s Batwoman Casting Raised Concerns About Jewish Representation – An interesting read.
Yes, Archival Quality is a ghost story about a young archivist named Cel, who gets haunted by a woman named Celine, who received a lobotomy when the Logan Museum (The setting for the graphic novel.) was a sanatorium in the early 20th century. But it’s also about relationships, mental health, coping with anxiety and depression, and messy human things in general. Ivy Noelle Weir does an excellent job fleshing out her small cast and giving them distinct ways of speaking, passions, life goals, and senses of humor while Steenz turns in some of the most adorable comic book art I have ever laid eyes on.
Steenz is also a gifted storyteller, who knows when to use a beat panel, facial expression, or sound effect to set up a joke or bring on the waterworks. A decent portion of the story happens in fragmented flashbacks to Celine’s life , and she uses a subdued sepia palette to keep the story grounded and not become some melodramatic Gothic potboiler. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of story.) There are plenty of ghosts, skulls, and unexplained occurrences, but Weir takes her time with the mystery side of Archival Quality and gives the characters fairly realistic reactions to the strange phenomena around them. Hooray for common sense moments like when Cel asks her boss, the curator Abayomi, why they are hiring a third full time staff member when barely anyone visits the Logan Museum.
A refreshing thing about Archival Quality is that the characters aren’t stereotypes or even archetypes. For example, Cel’s boyfriend Kyle could easily be written as an ableist villain, but Weir and Steenz give him layers of warmth and caring as he just wants Cel to feel better and find the help she needs. (Seriously, Steenz draws the best hugs.) However, that help might not involve a relationship with him, and Kyle does put hi. Weir and Steenz don’t fall into messy breakup cliches and organically show Cel and Kyle’s relationship break down over time with little things like them not moving in together or Cel not checking in with him via phone or text.
The Logan Museum does have terrible cellphone and Internet service, and Weir and Steenz seed in some ideas about our reliance on technology to connect with each other without turning Archival Quality into some kind of technoparable. The lack of contact with the outside world, the presence of mysterious women with dreams, and phenomena like missing teeth in artifacts turns Logan Museum into a kind of emotional laboratory where feelings like inadequacy, anxiety, and anger are intensified. But it’s also a cool space where Holly, Cel’s immediate superior, can show off her medical know how to solve a mystery, and stories of people with mental health issues can be restored and told and not locked away like their friends and family did to them when they were alive.
The character who I connected with the most and ended up almost stealing the entire comic book during his flashback sequence was Abayomi, a polite withdrawn man, who seems a little too young to be a curator. At the beginning of Archival Quality, he seems a little too terse and impersonal, and Steenz draws him with purposefully stiff body language to go with his professorial glasses and starched suits that leads to a big laugh when he reveals his love for a copyright friendly toaster strudel-type breakfast pastry. But, towards the middle of the comic, Weir and Steenz reveal that he has interacted with Celine and did research on her leading to the disappearance of the old curator, Dr. Weston.
Abayomi must straddle the world of ghosts and world of corporate bureaucracy (The very invisible and ominous “board”.) and put on a face of extreme competency to hide his feelings about Celine and connection to her. This is the connection he shares with Cel, and they bond over their quest and are kind of friends with great chemistry. The turning point is a panel drawn by Steenz of a close-up handshake that is equal parts empathy and a business partnership. She and Weir also face the myth that men and women can’t be platonic friends head on in a scene where Cel impactfully (and hilariously) defuses the rumor that their “research project” is Abayomi trying to be with her romantically. For the record, I do ship them, especially after an epilogue type sequence.
Archival Quality has all the elements from a great comic from Steenz’s art that has a distinct style and clearly conveys emotion, humor, and suspense to Ivy Noelle Weir taking time to let characters just be and not rushing their development for the sake of a creepy mystery. Plus it shows that it’s sometimes okay to be angry about things, sometimes it’s better to be alone than be in a relationship, and introduces a super rad, competent, and queer medical librarian in Holly, who is totally my professional role model as I work on my MLIS.
Story: Ivy Noelle Weir Art: Steenz
Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy
Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.