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Graphic Novels

Graphic Novel Cheat Sheet

William T. Fee

10 November 2011

Okay, let's deal with staff knowledge first. I'll get the library sin out of the way first, and just state that Wikipedia is your friend. The folks who deal in comic book entries know their stuff, and comics aren't known for the types of arguments that lead to bad info being posted to support a point of view. For example, check the Justice League of America entry. If you check section 5: Collected editions, you'll note that it tells you in what order the reprints are numbered, and what issues are reproduced


Now, as for the information in the item itself. Most have a credits page, which gives the roles of most everyone involved and their names, down to the mail guy. It's usually the t.p. verso and possibly following page or pages. Also on that page is a tiny block of 6 point text, the indicia. This also gives information on the original issues, when they were produced, the title at the time, publisher name at the time, and publisher addresses at the time of original publication. Some volumes don't have this, but they're a special case you probably won't run into often (the Big 2, Marvel and DC, almost always include these pages).

Stuff your patrons will need/fewest changes possible:

Point one: remember that you can make any changes you want in your local catalog if they help you patrons find the items they need.

That said, comic book/manga fans such as m'self will likely look for particular writers, artists (including cover artists) and characters/teams. Manga, from the few titles I have read, are more likely to have a single human who writes and draws. If you are cataloging with the item beside you it is usually pretty easy to tell if an item is manga or not- the style is quite distinctive. I am not, however, convinced that noting this in the record is useful to a patron unless they are shelved separately. Most manga fans will probably not do a vague search for all manga, but will instead look for a title, character or creator (just an assumption- I could be wrong, but I'm basing this on the Euro-American comic book fan).

So, who should you note? Main writer/scripter/plotter in the 100 (or 700 if main entry for a serial bothers you or is too much work), i.e. who wrote most of the stories in the volume. Main artist/volume cover artist in the 700s. This info is available on the credits page. I would also add series editor and editor-in-chief, both of whom affect the flavor of the work, but it's not really necessary.

In the 600s/650s, note the main characters or team (in RDA persons/teams change to 600/610 respectively, but there's still some debate on this point ;-), with the $v comic books, strips, etc. Manga would also be appropriate, in your local system (for example, the manga Wolverine title that was recently done).

The 655 of "graphic novel" drives me nuts, but I'm sure that's my personal OCD. I would instead use either of the $v headings from the 6xx. That is, however, a local decision. I would use only the LC/gsafd headings, unless you want the children's headings for a juvenile specific collection. [655 4 $aManga is a possiblilty. Mac]

In the subject of records, my suggestion would be to download both the serial record (on which you can hang your holdings) and the individual volume monograph record. Due to differences in how libraries catalog these items, you can usually find both in OCLC. Doing it this way allows a patron to see that you have Justice League of America volumes 1-6, but also allows them to both find the individual volume if that what they are looking for, and to see information (such as characters) specific to the volume. They can be linked, locally , through a 490/830 (individual volume)/776 (serial) pairing. 776 will fill itself on OCLC with a right-click insert from cited and an OCLC # for the individual volume.

Classification at the serial record level allows easy collocation. Instead of having 6 GYAF XMEN ULTIMATE, with differentiation in the order they arrived, you can use GYAF XMEN ULTIMATE v.1-6. Again, this information is easily available through the indicia, Amazon and Wikipedia.

This sounds like it would take forever, but it actually will save time in the end, and requires only knowledge of where to look, rather than knowledge of comics and manga as a form. Here's the breakdown:

Serial/volume records from OCLC
Add 100/700s for main Writer/Artist/Cover artist
add 650 for character/team locally
Classify at serial level for collocation Shelve and allow patrons to enjoy.

William T. Fee
Digital Collections & Authority Control Librarian
Graphical Materials Librarian
State Library of Pennsylvania