The Origin Story
It seems the world has always enjoyed combining text with images—from the images along the walls of Egyptian tombs to woodcuts that were popular in Europe and Asia. In the early 20th century, comic strips, the comic book predecessor, began appearing in newspapers. The 1930s brought about some of the most famous comic book heroes, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Because comics were cheap and entertaining, they appealed to children and soldiers alike. Post World War II, comic book sales reached the millions, but soon faced regulations in the 1950s due to “anti-comic book hysteria”. The 1960-70s brought DC and Marvel Comics as well as Underground Comix. Comic books surged again in the 1980s with the release of Maus, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, three bestselling and critically acclaimed comic books. The ‘90s saw an influx of Japanese manga and the ‘00s brought about comic-base films like Spider-Man and American Splendor, helping to propel comic books into the mainstream.
Comic Books: Available at Your Local Library
In May 2013, Heidi MacDonald of Publisher’s Weekly published an article about how graphic novels have become the “hottest section in the library”. In her survey of libraries, graphic novels were one of the highest circulating items in their collections.
In 2011, graphic novels made up 10% of Cuyahoga County Public Library’s collection, but accounted for 35% of circulation.
At Junior High School 278 in Brooklyn, they accounted for 3% of the collection and 30% of the circulation.
MacDonald stated that graphic novels are one of the most frequently requested materials in academic libraries as well.
In 2005, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom conducted a survey of 185 public libraries and found that 97% of those libraries offered graphic novels in their collection.
Comic Books: Now Available Through Your Library on Your Mobile Device
John Miller of York County Libraries pointed out in an article by Bethany Fehlinger that comic books don’t hold up well through circulation; he stated that once “items have reached between 20 to 40 uses the bindings become loose and pages start falling out.” This is one of the reasons his library turned providing their patrons with digital versions of graphic novels.
Comics and graphic novels are coming to libraries via a soon-to-be-announced partnership with Comics Plus: Library Edition (a division of iVerse Media) and Boopsie. Comics Plus: Library Edition brings the convenience, cost savings, and high circulation inherent with eBook lending to the comics realm, providing patrons with immediate access to comics and a cost-effective pricing strategy for libraries. Comics Plus: Library Edition is available to patrons on most smartphones, tablets and computers. Subscriptions are available to all libraries, and can be purchased by contacting Boopsie.