Here are some tips to help you be the best advocate for graphic novels that you can be in your libraries, schools, communities, and among friends.
- Read a comic or graphic novel!!!! A readers’ advisor or advocate for any book should be somewhat familiar with the genre or format they are promoting. That being said, even if you are unsure of delving into the unfamiliar waters of comics and graphic novels I strongly encourage you to pick one up anyway.
- Become familiar with the language associated with comics and graphic novels. Panel, gutter, splash page, thought bubble, word balloon, trade, one-shot, imprint, or universe are just some of the
vernacular associated with the medium. I suggest you check out the very awesome, No Flying, No Tights, webpage for some comics 101.
- Team up with your friendly neighbourhood comic book store(s). Not only is it an opportunity to peruse a plethora of titles, it is the chance to speak, one-on-one, with seasoned and enthusiastic supporters of comics and graphic novels. These valuable community members will add to your understanding of what circulates, what different demographics want, who the hottest writers are, and how to best follow and maneuver through the overwhelming trend of comic book “events”. Trust me, if you are not familiar with the daunting scope of events now, it wouldn’t hurt to ask a pro how to best approach one.
- Display books where people can see them! If you work in a library, a
school, or like me, you just happen to own lots of graphic novels, showcase them to generate buzz and interest. When possible, have the covers facing out so that browsing would-be-readers can get a glimpse of the art. If possible, photocopy an all ages appropriate page or two and leave them easily accessible to readers.
- Pay attention to popular culture! This cannot be overstated. many of the top grossing films in the last decade have been inspired by comics. Pair a film release or a television series debut with a book talk or promotional display.
- Showcase your collection. Many libraries hid their graphic novels in small corners of the branch; some are interspersed on shelves and identifiably by stickers on the spine; some are filed via the Dewey Classification System in the 741.5 where all comics related works (comics, graphic novels, comic strips, cartoons, photo-novellas, etc), regardless of their genre or topic, are relegated to the same treatment. What I perceive as most beneficial is to have a section dedicated expressly to graphic novels and comic books (or if possible, one for each child, teen, and adult section), and to make that display as prominent as possible. People will flock to it.
- Community comic enthusiasts: Assemble! Whenever possible, incorporate community events with the promotion of graphic novels. There is a WWII memorial? Add Maus to the display. There is a comic convention in town? Build a display and promote programs (dress up, if you dare!!!). Promoting reading programs? Share the titles of graphic novels in your collection with text-only titles.
- And remember, with great power comes great responsibility, so get reading those comics, Bub!!!!
Further reading for promoting and advising on graphic novels and comics in your community:
Campbell, J. (2004). Picture This: Inside the Graphic Novel. Scholastic: Literary Cavalcade. Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/writeit/cavalcade/issue.asp?pubdt=May+2004
Ching, A. (2005). Holy Reading Revolution, Batman! Developing a Graphic Novel Collection for Young Adults. YALS. vol 3. No 4. Retrieved from http://collectiondevelopmentcomics.wikispaces.com/file/view/Holy+Reading+Revolution,+Batman!.pdf
Goldsmith, Francisca. (2005). Graphic Novels Now: Building, Managing, and Marketing a Dynamic Collection. Chicago. American Library Association.
Goldsmith, Francisca. (2010). The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels. Chicago. American Library Association.
No Flying, No Tights. (2016). Comics 101. Retrieved from http://noflyingnotights.com/comics-101/comics-manga-vocabulary-2/
Comic Websites for Further Reading