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Archives - March 2009

Comics and the Academic Library: Plans in the Present and Hopes for the Future   As possibly all too many of GNR’s readers already know, I began a graphic novels collection at Columbia University about four years ago. Columbia has a top-notch research collection, but our holdings can also be mined for entertainment value. I was able to find novels I wanted to read in our collection, but I wasn’t able to find trade publications of comics, despite their being reviewed in the same media—The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books,etc.—as the other titles that piqued my curiosity. 
This year’s ICv2 conference, held prior to New York Comic-Con on Thursday, February 5, was a vast source of information about the industry and the trends going on now. One of the panels held that day dealt with the ongoing trend of adapting outside literary works to the graphic format and presenting it to a new audience in a new way. We here at GNR were so excited by the panel that it inspired us to go down the same topical road here, where we have gathered comics professionals to discuss what’s going on now, what it means for the industry, and what to expect next.
Alex Simmons Writer, producer, teacher, and founder of Kids Comic Con   Do you remember your first comic book or graphic novel? If so, what was it? I’m sorry to say I cannot remember my first comic book. Back in my youth, there was a wide variety of comic book series and genres, and I enjoyed quite a few. As near a I can recall, some of my favorite titles were Batman, Detective Comics, The Lone Ranger & Tonto, Spider-Man, and a few others.
Years ago, the New York Times, the newspaper of record and the purveyor of the most respected bestseller list in the publishing industry, struggled with how to recognize the tremendous sales records demonstrated by the Harry Potter books. They were outselling everything else, but they weren't represented on the traditional list. So, the list changed to include children's books. Now, the New York Times is adapting its list again...and it's for graphic novels and manga.
Congratulations to Nate Powell for earning a prestigious nomination for a Los Angeles Times book award. Nate's book Swallow Me Whole is one of five books to earn the distinction in the Young Adult Fiction category, and with the nomination, Nate joins an illustrious and select group: The last graphic novel to be nominated for a book award by the Times was Maus in 1992.
When I was a kid, I had no interest in comics at all. Before we’d go on family vacations, mom would take us to a newsstand and suggest that we choose some comic books to read in the car, and though I did pick some out, they really didn’t capture my attention.
How are graphic novels viewed in libraries across the country today? While attitudes toward graphic novels and manga are changing, and librarians were among the first to change them, we wanted to learn more about how the formats are received and perceived today. So we asked some librarians to share their experiences. Their responses were fascinating.
While I was watching the Academy Awards, one thing struck me: Comics movies were definitely conspicuous in their absence. Not that they were totally absent: The show’s host was Wolverine, for one thing, and he made sure to promote his upcoming movie. But Hugh Jackman’s opening song-and-dance number also gave a nice nod to The Dark Knight and Iron Man and rightfully asked why such huge movies aren’t properly represented in more awards categories.
March 1, 2009

Sweet Coraline

I doubt anyone was waiting for my recommendation, but let me add my voice to the chorus of people giving praise to Coraline, the new 3-D animated movie based on Neil Gaiman's book. The animators did such a fine job with this (loved the effects used on the tunnel between the two worlds in particular), and there's an added bonus for French & Saunders fans: Both ladies are in there and do a hilarious off-color song that will probably go over the heads of most young viewers. (The 3-D is fun, too, not to mention far removed from the flimsy paper red-and-blue glasses of my youth. You actually get sturdy plastic ones now.) Also, the opening title sequence is so creepy and delightful that it's mesmerizing. I loved the film all the way through.
This is the second year of the Stanford Graphic Novel Project, an endeavor to teach narrative through graphic storytelling. Our goal is to treat the graphic novel as a collective, collaborative project and as a team create a book during the winter term of each year. With co-instructor Tom Kealey, our 2008 class wrote, storyboarded, illustrated, designed, and published a 224-page graphic novel called Shake Girl. Fifteen students drew the 700 illustrations for Shake Girl in six weeks. This year, our students are currently at work on a 256-page graphic novel set in the Democratic Republic of Congo.