Category Archives: Diversity/Graphic Novels

Diversity in Graphic Novels 2nd Titles

Second titles received so far have been posted! Please submit yours if you haven’t done so yet…

Science Fiction details and second title suggestions coming tomorrow!

cover image of Fun HomeTitle: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Author: Alison Bechdel
Main Appeal Factors: Family relationships, coming of age, sexual orientation issues, memoir
Graphic Novels
Bechdel has written a memoir that examines her relationship with her father, Bruce. The graphics are not colorful consisting of blue, black, and white but the pictures add to the story. For example, the last page shows Bruce catching his daughter as she jumps into a swimming pool at the same time a truck is about to crash into Bruce. In this panel Bechdel is showing how her father was there offering support and his untimely death. Fun house refers to the funeral home that Bechdel grandmother and father ran. Being surrounded by death and sadness somehow the story is also humorous. Bechdel comes out as a lesbian only to learn her father is gay. The book is quick paced, has an insightful tone, and is a coming of age story.


Title: How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less
Author: Sarah Glidden
Main Appeal Factors: Leisurely pace, fully developed characters, realistic setting, traditional layout
Graphic Novels
This is the story of a young woman who takes a free tour of Israel that is offered to Jewish young people so they can learn their roots. She goes with the expectation of finding an Israel that oppresses the Palestinians, especially since she has a Muslim boyfriend. Instead she finds a complicated history of a complicated people, country and area. The artwork shows her mixed feelings as she tours various sites and museums. This book could easily go into the travel section or a travel display as well as a history section. People planning on taking a tour of the area — Jewish or not — would enjoy reading this ahead of time.

Title: Empire Stateempire-state
Author: Jason Shiga
Main Appeal Factors:
 Belated coming of age, hipster-aged characters/relationships, literary fiction-ish plot
Genre: Graphic Novels
Annotation/Thoughts: Character-driven, semi-autobiographical graphic novel with the subtitle “A Love Story (or Not)”. Slow-moving plot. The focus is on the main character, a geeky Asian-American man in his early 20s at a dead-end library job in Oakland, California named Jimmy (who shares characteristics with the author) and his friendship with (crush on) the tough-talking Sara who moves to New York City. Jimmy takes an uncharacteristic leap of faith and jumps on a bus to New York City to see if he too can become a different person. The tone is ironic. The pictures of people are stylized, cartoonish, not realistic, but the city backdrops are drawn in detail. Everything is single-color: Oakland scenes are blue and New York is red. Recommend to readers who enjoy literary fiction and coming of age novels and are open to trying a graphic novel.

Title: Marchmarch
Author: John Lewis
Main Appeal Factors:
History, civil rights, setting, intensity, relevance to today’s current events
Genre: Graphic Novels
Annotation/Thoughts: Reading March, I felt like I was taking part in something profound. Congressman John Lewis played an integral part of the civil rights movement. His story is unfolds as he is reflecting on his life while talking to two young boys on the morning of Barack Obama’s inauguration. This framework is genius, as it so simply portrays all the work that was done by past generations to get us to this point. The artwork is highly detailed, like typical “comic” art, and the level of realism suits the subject matter. So relevant to the current state of our country, March provides a really engaging, accessible way to become informed about a key player in the civil rights movement.

Maus.jpgTitle: Maus
Art Spiegelman
Main Appeal Factors:
Likeable characters and information about vineyards
Genre: Graphic Novels
Annotation/Thoughts: Maus is a graphic novel that is a steady and compelling read. There are two storylines, the first is the father/son exchange as Art Spiegelman visits his father to learn and document his father’s story, and the main storyline is Art’s father explaining their family’s history while living through the Holocaust. The first storyline is fantastic as it shows the real disconnects between adult son and father and it is comical but also heartbreaking. Art’s father’s more involved story about the holocaust is personal, realistic and understandably bleak. Art portrays the Jews as mice and one of the reasons for this is that the Nazis considered Jews to be vermin or rats. Hence, the Germans are drawn as cats who chase and kill the mice. For me, one of the great benefits of reading graphic novels is that if I take my time to look at the artwork as I read the words, I absorb a larger takeaway from the book due to the combination of the narrative and the accompanying artwork.



Diversity in Graphic Novels Discussion

The Southeastern Mass. Reader’s Advisory Roundtable met last Thursday to discuss graphic novels, with a focus on increasing diversity in our library collections and reader’s advisory (including “passive” RA such as displays and booklists.)

We  discussed the following readings:

Goldsmith, Francisca, The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels, Chapter 4: Moving Traditional Readers Toward Graphic Novel Options
Borrow it from MLS’s Professional Collection!

Ontario Public Library, Reader’s Advisory Conversation, pp. 10-11

TED Talk: Learning to See the Social, or How to Read a Graphic Novel

How to Read a Graphic Novel

We talked about our experience with reading graphic novels prior to preparing for this meeting, and found we had several people who were already aware of the range and depth that an adult graphic novel collection can have.

“The unique elements that apply to graphic novels and manga can pose challenges for reader’s advisors, but can be overcome by dedicating time to exploring the format. As with other literature, there are graphic novels for all genres and topics. It is important to recognize that graphic novels are not all the same and that a fan of one type of graphic novel may not enjoy others. – Ontario Public Library Association, RA Conversation

We talked about how graphic novels aren’t all “novels”; how graphic novels differ from illustrated books, and how the graphic novel versions of classic novels appeal to different readers for different reasons (e.g. gateway to reading the original, fanfiction aspect, focus on secondary characters as in Fagin the Jew by Will Eisner.) Somebody pointed out that, in terms of diversity, the graphic novel collection may already be the most diverse one in the average library. In discussing RA appeal factors, one member mentioned an additional appeal factor for graphic novels over traditional books is that they’re faster to read.

People shared personal favorites, including children’s/YA series that are enjoyed by all ages, such as Lumberjanes, Roller Girl, Bone, Nimona, and Speed Queen. We talked about the point made in one of the readings that, contrary to popular belief, graphic novels aren’t always appropriate for reluctant readers because they aren’t necessarily easier to read or simpler in context than traditional books. We discussed how the pictures and text are both necessary to understanding the context, and talked about how this idea was presented in the TED talk about graphic novels by Dartmouth College Associate Professor of English Michael Chaney, when he said: “Meaning is somewhere in between the pictorial and the textual.”

One member mentioned liking unreliable narrators and pointed out that some graphic novels could be considered to have unreliable narrators when the pictures seem to contradict the text.

We talked about incorporating more graphic novels into booklists and displays, and talked about why we should want to do that.

“Why would you want to steer a reader toward graphic novels? Certainly the format isn’t one that every reader may find intuitively comfortable. But the fact is that many readers have never explored the format due to simple prejudice, and part of what we do as librarians is offer lifelong learning opportunities – including the opportunity to reconsider decisions readers may have made about what’s a ‘good’ book.” – The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels, Chapter 4

Another idea the group mentioned were linking movies and graphic novels (e.g. Selma and March by John Lewis.) Other book/graphic novel pairings we came up with on the spot were Lolita in Tehran and Persepolis.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi was our benchmark title. One member of the group had already used this title and the film adaptation with her traditional book group, in a book/movie discussion. If you’re interested in our discussion of Persepolis, here are the RA-focussed discussion questions we started out with.

Second titles that we read and discussed were:

  • How to Understand Israel in Sixty Pages or Less by Sarah Glidden (Memoir)
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (Memoir)
  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir by Ellen Forney (Memoir)
  • March, Vol. 1 by Rep. John Lewis (Memoir)
  • Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Fiction/Superhero)
  • Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman (Memoir)
  • Empire State: A Love Story (or Not) by Jason Shiga (Literary Fiction)

NOTE to SE-RART Members: Please add your RA summary of your second title to the blog under the Submit Second Title Info tab for future reference by everyone in the group and others!

Register for the Wednesday, December 7th, meeting (10am-12pm) through the MLS Event Calendar! It will be held at the Carver Public Library, 2 Meadowbrook Way, Carver.

 New members of the group are always welcome to join at any time or to try a session to see how it works! Read through the About page to find out more, and feel free to contact Laurie or Maggie with questions.