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IST 605: Graphic Novels

A LibGuide designed to expose more people to different types of graphic novels, and scholarly resources related to the topic of graphic novels.

Graphic Novels 101

What is a Graphic Novel? ( From World Literature Today, 2007)

The term "Graphic Novel" can be used to describe a specific format of book, "for example, a bound book of comics either in soft- or hardcover--in contrast to the old-fashioned stapled comic magazine." It also can indicate "comic-book narrative that is equivalent in form and dimensions to the prose novel." 

Information on Graphic Novels & Sequential Art

Davis, J. (2007, January-February). How to Build Your Graphic Novels Section. ForeWord. https://link-gale 

  This article provides insight on how to build a graphic novel section into your library. Initially, it discusses some common misconceptions about the genre of graphic novels, and then provides some helpful tips to consider when curating your classroom library, or adding to your existing library collection. Building a graphic novel section requires you to have background knowledge about the medium as well as your intended audience, so both of these should be considered in the process. The consideration of the audience is one of the most important things to me as well, so I found this to be a very helpful article to reference.

Rudiger, H. M., & Schliesman, M. (2007). Graphic novels and school libraries. Knowledge Quest, 36(2), 57+. https://link-

This Knowledge Quest article provides a background for those who are new to the genre.  They describe graphic novels as "book-length comics", and further note that these can be "works of fiction or nonfiction, and their content parallels the wide range of literature that librarians already collect in other forms, including biographies, poetry, and novels." The article also describes the need and value in creating a development policy to continue to hone this genre within your own library or classroom, as well as different considerations for cataloging and shelving. There are also details on how to continue promoting Graphic Novels as educational and leisurely reading tools for young readers, as well as further educating others who may challenge the genre due to lack of information on the subject area. This is a great resource for those looking to get background information on the genre as a whole.

Reference Texts
Kan. (2010). Graphic novels and comic books. The H.W. Wilson Co.

This book is an excellent bibliographic reference for those looking into the medium of graphic novels and comic books. It is a thorough compilation of many different articles regarding the history behind graphic novels, some of the criticisms of the art form, and why graphic novels should be considered a legitimate form of literature. Essays cover different topics involving comic books, such as "Graphic Novels in Today's Libraries" and "Comics in the Classroom".
Tabachnick, S. E. (2017). The cambridge companion to the graphic novel. Cambridge University Press.

This text discusses the evolution of the graphic novel genre, as well as sub-genres included. Various scholarly articles are included within this text, which analyze award winning and notable works of the genre. This book discusses international graphic novels, rather than just American graphic novels, which is a significant thing to note depending on what type of graphic novels you're looking for. However, this source is hailed by many reviewers as a must have text for graduate and undergraduate students alike.

Jared Gardner. (2012). Projections : Comics and the History of Twenty-First-Century Storytelling. Stanford University Press.

Gardner's text is described as " a history of the modern sequential comic form from the late nineteenth century through today, focusing on the unique ways in which it tells stories". Gardner himself is a proponent of the graphic novel medium, and describes how readers take an active part in the storytelling that takes place within the sequential art form. This book journeys through time from 1889 with the genesis of the art form of storytelling, all the way up to the present day with films and the future of storytelling as it relates to the graphic novel medium. I find this one fascinating and recommend it for anyone looking to get a bit of background on the American graphic novel.

Booker. (2010). Encyclopedia of comic books and graphic novels. Greenwood Press.

Booker's text is said to be the "most comprehensive reference ever compiled about the rich and enduring genre of comic books and graphic novels, from their emergence in the 1930s to their late-century breakout into the mainstream."  The genre has obviously expanded greatly since 2010, when this was first published, but it gives amazing background information on various influential writers and artists who brought the genre to prominence, as well as a list of bibliographic resources at the end of each chapter for further reading.


Want More Graphic Novels?

Here are some more resources you can use to dive deeper into this amazing genre. Try searching some key terms in the databases below, or any other database you feel comfortable using. 

Keywords/Search Terms: Databases and Journals:
Sequential Art, Graphic Novels, Comic Books, Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age
  • The Grand Comics Database is a nonprofit, internet-based organization of international volunteers dedicated to building an open database covering all printed comics throughout the world. Try using the help page for tips and tricks to make the most of this platform.
  • The League of Comic Geeks allows comic book and graphic novel fans to find what to read next with over 200,000 comic books in the database. Browse by creator, publisher, character, and more. 
  • CBDB, the Comic Book Database allows you to look up stories by character, author, artist, or series. The database currently comprises over 50,000 comic books and is growing daily. The glossary included in the database is also a helpful tool for keyword searching.
  • TeachingBooks contains information and has helpful content for teaching graphic novels to children and young adults.
  •  The Comics Grid is a journal dedicated to appreciating the medium of comic book art, and to analyze comic layouts and panels.