Graphic Novel Selection Tools

Graphic Novel Selection Tools for Adults

 LIS 748-99


Brenner, R. E. (2007). Understanding manga and anime. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

This title is directed towards librarians, who are trying to build their manga and anime collections. This book discusses the history of manga and anime, vocabulary, cultural differences in format and content. Two chapters tackle fan culture and a chapter is devoted to collection development. An excellent bibliography accompanies this book (Library Journal). Selected for the expertise in the manga genre for building a public library collection.

Gravett, P. (2005). Graphic novels: Everything you need to know. New York: Collins Design.

This useful, insightful, intelligently arranged guide gives readers a good handle on the genre. The author, and expert in the British alt-comics movement, analyzes 30 key graphic novels and gives four read-alikes for each title. The author’s remarks in each chapter are knowledgeable. This title is indispensable for collection building and offers exposure to titles outside of the American market (Booklist).

Leach, B., Novgorodoff, D., Percy, B., Ponsoldt, J., Huizenga, K., Orner, E., Jones, S., … Madden, M. (2011). The best American comics 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

This title is chosen for the acclaim of its 2011 guest editor, Alison Bechdel, who is an award-winning graphic memorist.  Jessica Abel and Matt Madden are also contributors to the 2011 list and also well-known in the graphic novel and comic genres. The choice of the 27 titles is review in itself. This book compiles 27 selections and gives author and artist bios and stories. This title is essential for keeping an existing collection updated.

 Pawuk, M. (2007). Graphic novels: A genre guide to comic books, manga, and more. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.

This extensive, 672 page resource is a member of the popular Genreflecting Advisory series.  This resource has nine major subject divisions (i.e. superheroes, action/adventure, science fiction, fantasy, etc) that are further divided in subsets.  There are over 2,000 annotated titles. Plot summaries are used instead of critical reviews, and each annotation is given an age rating.  This source is good for readers advisory, collection building or updating (Booklist).

Weiner, S. (2003). The 101 best graphic novels. New York: NBM

This title by a former librarian and leading expert on graphic novels is separated into graphic novels and comics.  This basic title will help navigate the genres and offers a wide range of titles that include reviews and codes indicating the reading levels for each item – all ages, children, adults (Publisher’s Weekly). This resource is a good introduction to the genre and will provide a good start for building a collection.



Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association, offers valuable  webinars on this genre and a yearly print selection list of graphic novels with reviews. Also in the print version of this resource, on the 15th of the month is an graphic novel insert for adult, ya and children’s graphic novels. The blogs and reviews are current, if your library is a subscriber. Their blogger, Jesse Karp is a good review source for this genre.  This source is authoritative, current, and can be used as you wish for collection building or updating.

Kirkus Reviews

This premier review source used by many libraries offers current reviews of graphic novels before the print publication of Kirkus hits the streets. This resource offers no age ratings on the books reviewed, but does offer detailed plot summaries, so librarians can infer age appropriateness and also offers valuable links to read-alikes and other books by the author. Essential resource for updating and maintaining a collection.

Library Journal

This trusted and authoritative review source has been a library checklist for many years.  LJ reviews fiction and non-fiction graphic novels as well as comics.  Online reviews are posted regularly and cover the subject, plot line, and genre.  The “verdict” is to the point for library collections.  Although ages are not given, there is enough detail in the reviews to order appropriately for your collection.  Also, the print version of LJ (Vol. 137 No. 2, February 1, 2012) offers a great resource for collection development for adult non-fiction graphic novels.

New York Times

The NY Times bestseller lists are posted in many libraries and are the cause of many patron holds.  They offer a weekly bestseller list online for hardcover and paperback graphic novels, and manga.  This list only gives a short synopsis of the books, but the most important indicator is the number of weeks on the bestseller list.  If a title is not in your library, and has been on this list for many weeks, maybe it should be ordered for your collection.  This source is essential for forecasting patron holds and currency for maintaining a collection.

National Public Radio (NPR)

This is a source that many adult patrons know about, and therefore will request books from.  This online review source by Dan Kois, an editor at the NY Times and Slate Magazine, gives reviews of graphic novels, and provides a list of “Six Graphic Novels That Will Draw You In”.  These reviews are short, but cover art, dialogue, manga and the cultural significance of titles. This is a must for maintaining or updating a collection of graphic novels.

Publisher’s Weekly

This subscription source for print and online access gives reviews on comics and graphic novels separated by age. These reviews are pointed regarding sexuality and political themes, eloquent, and timely.  This source is essential for maintaining an adult graphic novel collection.

USA Today

This current source mostly reviews comics, but includes great crossover information with movies, television shows, and pop culture.  The reviews are not age specific, so careful attention is required, but review of this list is essential, as patrons may be referring to the media mentioned here.


Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are considered the “Oscars” of the comic book industry and are awarded each year at the Comic-Con convention. The Awards are given out in more than two dozen categories covering the best publications and creators of the previous year; such as Best Short Story, Best Graphic Album, Best Writer. (Courtesy of These award winners are voted on by peers in the industry.  Patrons who love this genre are well aware of these awards and librarians need to be aware of the adult award winners in order to satisfy patron demand.


Comics Worth Reading

This independent blog, the longest running blog in the genre, is updated daily and offers coverage on graphic novels, comics, manga and AV crossovers.  There are a few lists of “must read classics” .There are no divisions by age appropriateness, but author, title, series, and review should take care of that.  This blog is well versed in pop culture, so it is a valuable read for all public libraries in order to keep the graphic novel collection current.

Early Word

This popular publisher-librarian blog is a weekly must read for many adult public librarians.  The graphic novel updates are provided by Robin Brenner (see Understanding Manga and Anime above). This source is current, authoritative and essential for the adult librarian for updating a collection.


A blog from the website Flavorpill, which is “ a network of culturally connected people, covering events, art, books, music, and pop culture the world over. Highbrow, lowbrow, and everything in between: if it’s compelling, we’re sharing it.”  There is good coverage on graphic novels  and general pop culture here.  A good read for librarians looking at pop culture crossovers for the public library.

Graphic Novel Reporter

This source provides in-depth reviews, divided by audience and fiction/non-fiction,  that include insightful comments what’s new and newsworthy in the genre as well as links to read-alike titles and related authors.  They also give you detailed content information so librarians can choose the right audience for the material. This source provides core lists to ensure that the graphic novel and manga collection is current with ongoing trends and reading tastes.

No Flying No Tights

This librarian initiated and maintained blog is separated by age group, and then by genre.  This blog was started by someone named Robin B.(maybe Brenner?) in library school and offers extensive current reviews and core/classic lists. The links offered in this blog are quality sources, such as an ALA graphic novel initiative group and LA times graphic novel bestseller list.  A good quality, current source for development or updating a collection.

Paste Magazine Weekly Graphic Novel Roundup

Each week, graphic novels are chosen for review based on being “intriguing”.  This magazine is one devoted to pop culture, so it deals with currency.  There are good art reviews of each title, but they are not reviewed for age appropriateness.  An interesting , brief source that will take very little time to remain current on, but will help in updating a core collection.

Other Websites

Columbia University

This excellent lib guide offers links to the Columbia University collection, as well as awards, publications and journals in the genre/format, links to blogs of note and links to graphic novel and comic publishers.  This source is trustworthy and authoritative, and it may not be as current as some blogs, but it is a great starting point for developing a graphic novel collection.


This website/listserv is hosted by the Morton Grove Public Library and is a great reader’s advisory tool.  There is a section on the website, developed by members, that talks about the graphic novelization of novels.  While this is mostly a Reader’s Advisory website, it is a good source when identifying titles within a genre. This source is good source for updating a core collection and advertising it to patrons.

Top Shelf Publishing

This website illustrates the value of watching publishers for pre-selection lists and reviews of what is coming.  Browsing is available by artist, category and theme. Any book supplier should provide pre-selection for graphic novels, but it may be  helpful to choose a few publishers that specialize in graphic novels in the subject areas of interest to your patrons, and keep current on their news. Even though they may be biased, these websites give a specific, rather than broad view of the formats & genres.

Neil Gaiman

This website is a good example of the benefits of following prolific authors.  Neil Gaiman’s website will link you to current issues in graphic novels/comics, blogs, and publishing.  While not an unbiased opinion, this source will give a librarian, new to the format, good background information and sources in order to develop a collection.


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