Library's graphic novels have a lot to offer readers of all levels

In the Stacks

Posted: Sunday, August 01, 2004

With many thanks to the Friends of the Library, all three branches of the Juneau Public Library have added graphic novel collections. Defined as "novel-length comic books," or "stories told in pictures," graphic novels have a lot to offer readers of all levels, and though some might not consider graphic novels "real" reading material, readers of graphic novels will tell you that since the pictures and the print work together to tell a story, their brains get a workout. Some practice is necessary - those of us who are really good at words might be tempted to gloss over the pictures, but doing that means missing half the story.

Our child-friendly collection is located at 741.59 and our adult-interest collection is at 813, with titles of interest to teens in both locations. Each graphic novel has a red and white sticker on it above the spine label, so you can scan for those when browsing the shelves. If you want to search our catalog for graphic novels, click on the "power search" button and, in the drop-down menu under format, choose "graphic novel" or "juvenile graphic novel." We've added graphic novels to all three branches, pretty much without repeating titles, so use the catalog to search out new titles and place holds on those that interest you. (We've got a great courier system that whisks books from the branch that they "live" in to the branch that's most convenient for you, so don't hesitate to make things easy for yourself.)

Some big names in the graphic novels world represented in our collection are Will Eisner (often considered the father of graphic novels for his novel "A Contract with God: and other Tenement Stories," about growing up Jewish in pre-war Brooklyn), Alan Moore ("The Watchmen," a complex story about superheroes and their humanity), and Neil Gaiman ("The Sandman," in which eternal qualities of humanity exist personified: destiny, death, despair, dream, desire, delirium and destruction are endless).

Titles for all ages include the Bone series by Jeff Smith (one of my favorites - this is the story of the three Bone cousins (who look sort-of like Casper the ghost) and their escape from Boneville into a land populated by dragons, princesses, and cow-racing grandmas), "Meridian," by Barbara Kesel (about Sephie, who inherits the title of Minister to the floating city of Meridian, only to learn that her uncle, the minister of another city, is out to get her), and "H.E.R.O. Powers and Abilities," by Will Pfeifer and Kano (if you found a device that could give you super-powers, would you be a hero or a villain?). We've even got some Japanse graphic novels (manga) - perhaps not as much as manga fans will wish for, but enough to whet your appetite: look for "Marmalade Boy" by Wataru Yoshizumi, "Dragon Knights" by Mineko Ohkami and "InuYasha" by Rumiko Takahashi, to name a few.

Some books that will interest mainly adult readers are "Palomar" by Gilbert Hernandez (stories set in a mythical Latin American village imbued with the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende), Joe Sacco's "The Fixer" (a behind-the-scenes look at war correspondents and the price they pay for the "good" stories - set in Sarajevo at the end of the Balkan conflict), and "Strangers in Paradise" by Terry Moore (dark pasts, hopeful futures, true friendships and double-crosses).

There are thousands of sites for online information about graphic novels; one of my favorites is, which is run by a Massachusetts librarian and has three components: Sidekicks for kids and their parents; No Flying, No Tights for teen graphic novel readers; and the Lair for adult readers and older teens. Each section features reviews of graphic novels appropriate for the age group of the section, top ten lists, and news about the graphic novel universe. For additional information about graphic novels for kids in the Juneau Public Library, follow the Kids Stuff link to read "Sandra Says" on our homepage.

And, as always, placing a hold on our material is easy: call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249, or, if you have Internet access, your library card, and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site ( and looking at our catalog. Placing holds on items featured in this column is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalog: Simply look up the column on our Web site, click on the title you want, and you will be ready to place a hold.

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