Welcome to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.

The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to panel@silverbulletcomicbooks.com and we’ll add them to the list…

This week’s question is as follows:-

“What is the biggest argument *against* encouraging local libraries from carrying TPBs and GNs in their collections?”

Vince Moore:

I don’t see if there can be an argument made against encouraging libraries from carrying graphic novels. From everything I’ve been reading, libraries are totally in love with graphic novels; they are bringing the kids back into libraries. My only concern would be what kinds of books the libraries choose. Right now, it could be said the vast majority of graphic novels chosen by the libraries are manga and similar sized books. That does seem to discriminate against other size books, other format graphic novels.

At this point in time, it’s probably fair to say the next generation of comics fans will only be interested in comics that closely emulate the manga style, in art, in story, and in format. But even taking that into account, I think it’s better that libraries carry comics, carry graphic novels, in the hopes that more people will be exposed to the artform we all are a part of and enjoy.

Vince Moore is the writer of Platinum Publishing’s upcoming book, Kid Victory & The Funky Hammer.

Alan Grant:

As far as I’m concerned, the only argument against libraries stocking trade paperbacks and graphic novels is that the TPB/GN section is always hardest hit by library thieves.

Otherwise, their influence seems to be only for the good: spreading the word about comics; providing comics to a section of the population who might otherwise not see them; enabling anyone to find out–for free–if comics are for them.

Support your local library!

Alan Grant is maybe most famous for his Batman and Judge Dredd work, and his classic EPIC series The Last American is due out imminently from Com.X as a trade for the first time.

Fiona Avery:

I’m not really sure I could provide you with any reasonable answer. I can’t think of a single reason why people should be against libraries carrying books — even within prose writing, where novel sales generate a more serious royalty than anything I’ve ever received from writing TPBs (so people reading your books at a library is somehow a bad idea …). Maybe the reason is simply “the first one’s always free” … hook a kid in a library and he’ll end up spending his money for eternity on comic books. Oh, the horror!

Fiona Avery plays in the Marvel Universe, with Wildstorm at DC, and is the creator of No Honor.

Stephen Holland:

I can’t think of a single argument “against”. Not even from our perspective as a local retailer.

I don’t stop people browsing in the shop. How else can customers decide what they want to buy?

If you’re stupid enough to snarl something like “This isn’t a bloody library!” then the sharper customer could, would and should retort: “That’s fine, I don’t intend to take anything out!”

Go on, do it! You’ll feel brilliant.

Libraries should obviously be aware of what they’re stocking, but that’s where we come in with friendly advice.

Libraries are great. They’re the only people I know who spend £3,000 a shot.

I luuuuurve libraries.

Libraries, come see us. We luuuurve you. And we offer discount with no postage paid and –[snip – ed.]

Stephen Holland runs Page 45, a comic shop in Nottingham, England, with Mark Simpson and Tom Rosin plus Dominique Kidd. They love libraries, apparently.

Scott Allie:

The biggest argument from the point of view of the libraries is the same as the argument for the bookstores-comics get manhandled and stolen at a higher rate than other books. Libraries would love to see more hardcovers. I think any argument from the POV of comics publishers could be shot down by anyone wishing a bright future for the art form.

Scott Allie edits and writes for Dark Horse – a trade of The Devil’s Footprints is just out, and is not only a superb collection but is an excellent story too.

Donna Barr:

People steal them. Libraries need to buy ten copies of each issue. Then they need to laminate all the pages of at least one copy, bind the cover in heavy leather and jewels, and chain it to the desk.

I always tell people to buy two copies of my books — one to keep and read and one for their friends to steal. Because they WILL steal them.

Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once.

Jesse Leon McCann:

Biggest argument *against* : The library staff of most libraries probably won’t be familiar within the modern comic book.

They’ll assume comics are for children only, and faint when they see PREACHER, or put Garth Ennis in the kiddy section until Neo Con Mom gets a glimpse of what her precious checked out and has the library burned to the ground.

Well, maybe not.

Anyway, I think libraries *should* carry trades and original graphic novels, so it’s hard for me to think of a reason for them not to!

Jesse Leon McCann is currently editing the fourth Simpsons TV Episode Guide for Bongo Comics/Harper Perennial, writing several stories for DC Comics’ Kids Line, and Scooby-Doo books for Fisher Price and Scholastic, Inc.

Kwanza Osajyefo:

I think the only argument against graphic novels in libraries IS the
effect it would have on monthly sales. The economy of comic books pretty effin’ fragile, so I can definitely imagine readers not buying a book if they can just hire it out– especially since most GNs can be read in a few hours. However, I support the idea of comics in libraries for two reasons:

1) It will get more people reading comics period, and if they really like a title they WILL buy it.

2) They comic industry needs an enema anyway i.e., if sales get “effed in the a” we will think of better and more consumer friendly ways to produce our work.

Kwanza Osajyefo is the founder of funkyComics, home to Jim’s Ninja and a number of other forthcoming comic book properties.

Vito Delsante:

Is there really an argument against libraries carrying graphic novels? I mean, there may be a censorship question…should children have access to “Preacher?” Then again, I’m sure libraries are more responsible than I’m letting on.

God, is there really a negative here? Maybe the kids will steal them? Maybe they’ll turn off to classic literature like “Moby Dick?”

I think the positives far outweigh any negatives…even if I can’t think of any!

Vito Delsante is currently pitching his creator owned mini-series, “The Mercury Chronicles”, with artist Jim Muniz. He can be seen in June’s “Batman Adventures Vol 2: Shadows and Masks” from DC Comics and in a forthcoming issue of X-Men Unlimited.

Brandon Thomas:

I really don’t see any serious problems resulting from libraries carrying more graphic novels. If it’s a concern that the ability to borrow the material, rather than being forced to purchase it, will drastically effect its ability to sell, I’d say to take a look at your local bookstore for proof that isn’t the case. Libraries aren’t directly responsible for any noticeable decrease in book sales, at least not anymore than they’ve ever been, and the larger issue is really that people just aren’t reading anymore. With that in mind, getting a more extensive catalog of graphic novels in our libraries is even more important. There’s so many things out there fighting for just the smallest piece of our attention spans, and the industry’s largest problem right now is its inability to achieve any type of noticeable saturation point.

Television, movies, and music have it easy, as they’re readily available anywhere and everywhere, while getting your hands on an actual living comic book involves some kind of dedicated pursuit. If going to the library is easier than heading to the local bookstore, than so be it, long as the stuff is getting read. Until somebody comes up with that magic bullet that instantly puts comics into the forefront of pop culture, we’ll have to get used to this multi-faceted attack on comic shops, bookstores, and libraries to make any progress at industry expansion.

Brandon Thomas is one of the writers of Spider-Man Unlimited #3, scripter of Youngblood, creator of Cross and long-time Ambidextrous columnist.


Over all, I would have to say that there are very few drawbacks to libraries carrying trade paperbacks and graphic novels. Certainly the presence of books in libraries where I could borrow them for FREE and read them at my leisure and then return them and get more, created in me a true love for books and reading and even writing. In that respect, it can do no harm. However, a problem that I do see in some libraries is placement. It stems from a lack of knowledge about the medium of comic books and proper categorization. In many libraries, I have seen graphic novels and trade paperbacks stocked exclusively in the young readers section. They did not have their own section and they were not sorted by age group, as standard novels are. Thus, THE SANDMAN and PREACHER are stocked right next to THE SIMPSONS and AKIKO. This is a potential disaster just waiting to erupt. It comes from the assumption most “civilians” have that all comics are for kids, or young readers. It is a stigma the medium struggles continuously to throw off. The potential for a serious backlash from this mis-racking of mature reader comics, should they get into younger hands and outrage parent action groups, is that comics, as a medium, will no longer be made available in libraries, especially in this post-Super Bowl heightened sensitivity era. Librarians and consumers and readers need to be educated that comics have as many genres and are written for all age ranges, so that they can be properly racked and organized. Once this is done and done properly, it can only help to raise the exposure of the industry, which benefits us all.

j.hues is the Public Relations & Marketing Manager for FUTURE ENTERTAINMENT. Creator of the daily webstrip “Rolling With The Punches Volume 2”, he has at various times in the past been a columnist, news editor, and manager of Missouri’s largest comics shop. His current shop is available online at his link.

Roberta Gregory:

The biggest argument I can see against encouraging libraries to carry GNs is that many of these books do not seem to have been created for heavy library use. Over the years, at the semi-annual Public Library Sale, I have picked up not-very-old trade paperback GNs and collections, such as Watchmen, the ZOT! collection, etc. with split spines, the pages falling out, etc. which have been pulled from circulation simply because they could not hold up to repeated readings! It’s a big “score” for ME, since these books are only seventy-five-cents, but a loss for the creator, who is missing out on a potential new reader. And it may make the library reluctant to order GNs in the future if they have such short lifespans.

Roberta Gregory is the creator of “Bitchy Bitch”, who not only stars in Roberta’s Naughty Bits comic book (from Fantagraphics), but also appears on television worldwide in animated adventures, the latest being the “Life’s a Bitch” series on the Oxygen Network.


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