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February 25, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Bonnie Barber

Posted by tom
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This summer, on July 14, the public library in Carrollton, Texas, will host an innovative 39 Clues-themed tween event. They’ll also incorporate the audience’s love for graphic novels and manga into the daylong event, which is being coordinated by youth services librarian Bonnie Barber. We talked to Bonnie about her love of comics. (For more information on the upcoming event, check the library’s website here.)

Do you remember your first comic book or graphic novel?
It was definitely Garfield! I’m often amazed at how popular he still is. I got to chat with Kazu Kibuishi at a conference last year and he had some great theories as to why the fat cat is still going so strong. Maybe GNR can interview him about it? 
 
What do you love about the graphic novel as a format for storytelling?
I love the expressiveness and creativity the format encourages in storytellers. As a reader, I love that I often read them twice—once tearing through the plot, then a second time to really appreciate the artwork.
 
Whose work do you admire?
Kazu Kibuishi, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, The Walking Dead team, Ray Fawkes, Team Holm!
 
Who do you read outside of the graphic novel format?
L.A. Meyer, Suzanne Collins, Jeff Kinney, and Mo Willems.
 
How many graphic novels do you read a month? How many of those are manga?
Ten or so a month, with only the occasional manga title.
 
How did you first get involved in the field professionally?
My mom! She is a librarian, too…I guess it’s in my blood. As for graphic novels, I got into them about 10 years ago, when I started working in a library. I remember The Plain Janes really getting me hooked.
 
What kind of reaction do you get when you tell people what you do?
Most people have a warm-fuzzy reaction, which I hope means they have fond childhood memories of a library or librarian.
 
Do you collect comics? What is the most valuable piece of art, graphic novel, or comic book in your collection?
I like to get my hands on advance copies whenever possible (hint, hint, GNR!). My really good stuff—like autographed copies of Amulet and Copper—I use as prizes for summer events. The look on a kid’s face when he/she gets something like that is priceless!
 
Is there something you covet adding to your collection?
I specialize in GNs for kids (13 and under) and it is fun to watch the constant changes and trends in that market. I wish Mo Willems would write some graphic novels! He could do amazing things with the format. In general, I covet having enough copies of the hot titles to satisfy all my eager readers.