Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

Hello, I still exist.

July 14th, 2013 by Susie
A recent comment got me feeling all warm and fuzzy for read comics. I’ve been reading over some of my old posts. I did love posting here, though dear lord I had a serious comma addiction. I’ve been through treatment and mostly have it under control.
I haven’t been over here for a while since I’ve mostly been blogging on my own site about many things not just comics. I’ve been working on getting my writing career off the ground. It’s still pretty much on the ground at the moment, but it’s on a bit of an incline.
Since I’m here I should talk about comics. Even though I haven’t been writing about them, I’m still very much reading them. I can quit abusing commas, but comics is a habit I can’t kick.
One of my last posts was about the upcoming new Sandman miniseries. It now has a release date and is due to hit stores in October of this year. I can’t wait!
As for what I’m reading, staples Fables and the Unwritten continue to explore the secret life of fiction in new and imaginative ways. Buffy Season Nine is winding down. It hasn’t reached the heights that season eight did early on, but it’s also hasn’t been nearly as inconsistent. Meanwhile I’m enjoying spinoff Angel and Faith a little more than the main title, but both are building to what looks like strong conclusions. Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga is probably my new favorite monthly series that premiered since I stopped posting here regularly. Here is an article that pretty much sums up my feelings about it and why you should be reading it. Another series I’ve been enjoying is Rachel Rising by Terry Moore. Like Echo was his take on a super heroes, this is his take on horror. And like Echo it’s been going in directions I couldn’t possibly predict. At times very creepy directions. His art as always is immersive and haunting. I also picked up at the library the first trades of Gail Simone’s Batgirl and Brian Michael Bendis’s All New X-Men. I quite enjoyed both. Barbara Gordon is one of my all time favorite characters and Simone’s take on her could easily become iconic. I haven’t read many X-Men titles, but I felt I knew enough to understand and enjoy Bendis’s time travel story. I’m looking forward to the next volumes of each.
I’ll try to come back to Read Comics a little more often, but this site is and always has been open to the public. Anyone with something to say is welcome to post.

Graphic Novel & Comic Book Writing and Illustrating Conference

May 26th, 2010 by Martin

The Loft is hosting a Graphic Novel & Comic Book Writing and Illustrating Conference next month on Saturday, June 19:

Keynote Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award, will lead the way through this one-day conference.

Registration opens Saturday, May 22nd, online at:

You may also register by phone on or after May 22nd at 952-847-8800.

Sessions will include:

  • Craft talks on illustration and writing
  • Breaking into graphic novels and comic books
  • Zines, self-publication and promotion

    When you register (it’s FREE through some deal with the library), you get to specify which sessions you’re interested in. Aside from the keynote, of course, I’m particularly excited for “Writing for Comic Books & Graphic Novels with Zander Cannon”. I’m signed up, anyone else want to join me? (Thanks to my co-worker Michael for the heads up on this!)

    Return to the Labyrinth volumes 1 through 3

    September 17th, 2009 by Susie


    I have known about and avoiding this manga sequel from TokyoPop to the classic Jim Henson movie the Labyrinth, for a few years now.  The Labyrinth is one of those special movies that I have watched many times since I was a child, and treasure as much now as then.  So when, around  five years ago I stumbled across the listing on Amazon for the first volume, I was taken aback.  I could not help but be worried that the people producing this series would miss the charm and wonder of the original.  I did not even want to take the chance that it would disappoint, so I left it alone.  I am not sure what made me check if the library had them now, but I am glad I did.  No, author Jake T. Forbes has not quite created a story as brilliant as the movie.  He has crafted a narrative that pays homage to the original, while cutting it’s own path through the Labyrinth. This time it is Toby, whom you may remember as the baby that heroine Sarah had to rescue from the Goblin King, who is the teenage hero. He finds himself pulled into the Labyrinth and makes friends both new to the audience as well as familiar ones.  His adventures in the first volume while not boring, do feel a little like a retread. However  it is as the story progresses and we learn of King Jareth’s designs for Toby and his motives and also as we get a broader view of the world he inhabits that I found my self truly invested in the story.  Volume 3 took the plot in a direction I was not expecting, and of course left us with quite the cliffhanger.  There is one more volume  in the works however it looks like the books have been released at least two years apart and number three  just came out last May, so I will be waiting for the conclusion for a while.  I especially appreciated that the author planted references to other Jim Henson fantasy works, such as the Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock and the Story Teller.  Jim Henson’s work from the Muppets and beyond, was my very first fandom and it is still my most favorite.  Sorry Joss, I love you too!  I am really glad my fears for this project were completely unfounded.  If I have a small complaint, it is that the creatures that were created just for the manga don’t look like they were created by the same person who created the creatures for the film.  And of course they weren’t, Brian Froud designed the firies, Ludo, and Hoggle for the film, while Chris Lie is the artist on the manga.  It also would be nice if the series was in color, but then it would take even longer to be published.  The series has it’s own website and forums at

    Grieving behind a plastic lion mask: Mother Come Home

    April 25th, 2009 by Susie


    I picked up Paul Hornschemeier’s Mother Come Home from the library because I vaguely remembered someone somewhere giving it a good review. I found it to be a profoundly sad and beautiful study of how children process loss. The core of the story is about seven or eight year old boy coping with the death of his mother and the resulting mental breakdown of his father. A subject that hits rather close to home for me. The loss of mother of the title has uprooted his father from reality, he loses track of anything other than his overwhelming grief, and the boy, Thomas finds himself in the care taker role. Thomas creates his own myths to explain his altered life, and clings to invented rituals to anchor himself in his now unstable world. The climax of the story involves his need to fix his father’s problem, and therefore fix his own life, which fails utterly. The book is narrated by an older Thomas, and it is his more mature understanding of the events that he is relating that keeps the story from being completely devastating. The art suits the story perfectly. It is straightforward and grim but at the same time innocent and childlike. I would recommend this to anyone who would claim graphic novels can’t have the same emotional impact of prose.

    ReadComics Podcast #024

    December 9th, 2008 by Martin

    Jason, Florence and Marty talk about a bunch of stuff this time, including: Buffy: Season 8 #19, comic books at the Library, Umbrella Academy, Astro City, The Authority, the Luna Brothers and Sword, I Hate Gallant Girl, Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,, Neil Stephenson and Anathem, The Last Will and Testament, Jason’s new G1 phone purchase, and how sick we all are.

    Somewhere in the middle, Jason tunes out and Florence and Marty launch into Married with Comics and talk about this week’s comics (Authority #5, Sword #13 & I Hate Gallant Girl #2).

    Listen to Podcast Episode #024 (23 MB, 51 minutes)

    Comixtravaganza, part of Teen Read Week

    October 14th, 2008 by Martin

    It’s going to be all day comics at the St. Paul Central library this Friday, an event they’re calling Comixtravaganza. I don’t really know who organized this, but there’s going to be a whole bunch of local creators in attendance. And free food!

    Here’s the schedule and location (as reported in an email from The Source):

    4th floor meeting room
    90 4th Street West
    St. Paul, MN. 55102

    FRIDAY OCTOBER 17, 2008

    • 11:00AM – 12:00PM: Comix Panel featuring:
      • Marcus Almand
      • Becky Grutzik
      • Melissa S. Kaercher
      • Ryan Kelly
      • Aric McKeown & Lem Pew
      • Michael May
      • Shawn Van Briesen
    • 12:30PM – 1:30PM: How to Draw Manga Class
    • 2:00PM – 4:30PM: Watch a New Anime Film with the 3 P’s (pocky, pizza, & pop)

    The John Philip Borger Comic Book Collection at the University of Minnesota Libraries

    September 12th, 2008 by Martin

    Some of you may remember that Jason and I attended a reading/presentation by David Hajdu last July at the Anderon Library on the west bank of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. The event was to celebrate John Borger’s gift of almost 40,000 comic books to the Children’s Literature Research Collections department, a gift that was given a bit of press back when it happened.

    David Hajdu’s presentation was interesting. He seemed a bit nervous that both Gordon Purcell and Dan Jurgens were in attendance. And while I really had attended the event just to see David Hajdu, I found myself more and more interested in comic book donation, and the implications it had for the University having, suddenly, at its disposal such a glut of comic books.

    I had the good fortune, after the event, of finding out I have mutual friends in common with Marie J. Harvat, who is the Library Supervisor in charge of the Borger collection. I soon corresponded with her, and she was happy to answer the following questions I had about dealing with such a large collection, including the process of keeping track of the comics, and her knowledge of implications for the University.

    1. Would you be willing to describe the method being used to catalog and keep track of the comic books in the collection? Was there existing database software used for this project, or was a custom database created? Are the comics being scanned with a barcode reader? How many
    people are taking part in this endeavor?

    Marie: The Borger Collection came to us with a copy of Mr. Borger’s personal ComicBase database listing. The CLRC purchased a copy of this software to be able to manipulate the data. While there are some very nice features in ComicBase, its is not something that the Libraries are able to use for patron searching.

    It was decided that we would use Encoded Archival Description (EAD), a form of XML, to list the comics in the collection. Rather than type all the information desired (title, illustrator, publisher, character appearances, etc), I have been able to export data from ComicBase into a tab delimited file and into Excel. The staff discussed which “fields” to include and I compared these to established EAD elements to create a template for XML coding. This drove the massaging of the Excel spreadsheet to facilitate using another software to convert from spreadsheet columns into a page of code, thereby eliminating the need to hand code all 36,000 comic issues!

    At present, I am the lead staff person on this project. We have one temporary part time assistant who is inputting additional information into a spreadsheet and placing the comics into new acid free boxes (smaller than those donated by Mr. Borger as to be more manageable and fit on the storage shelves better. Each comic is going in an acid free mylar sleeve and has an acid free “tag” slipped in the bag as to indicate its Box #, Folder #, Title, Date, and Issue #. In time we will have a second assistant to help push the project along more rapidly.

    2. What is the timeline for making the comic books available to the public?

    Selected comics are already available to the public. If you visit:, and click on the left hand “Finding Aid” the list of processed comics appears. This is being updated at least on a weekly basis, and you can probably quickly tell that I have not finished tweaking the display. This project has been a great way for me to learn XML and XSL — but as I’m teaching myself while working this, some things will be a little messy for a while in the name of getting the title and issue numbers for processed comics out to the public.

    We hope to have processing completed by the end of 2008.

    3. I know some Comic Books are already available, what does a person need to do to have access to these comics?

    We are suggesting that interested patrons consult the finding aid. Any item listed there is currently available to be read in our reading room — 6 issues may be had on the table at one time; patrons may only have a laptop and a few sheets of paper with a pencil on the table while comics are in use. At the librarian’s discretion (read: if I can make it happen), other titles might be available and users are encouraged to inquire at if they would like to see something that isn’t yet processed. In general, we strongly suggest making an appointment in advance notice for use of the Borger Collection. Again email A picture ID will be requested upon registration with the collection (a simple form), so don’t forget a wallet!

    4. Does the library have any plans for accepting additional comic book donations? What if another donor came forward?

    J. Randolph Cox has been donating comic books for a couple of years and will continue to move his collection to the CLRC in smaller batches. These titles do not often overlap with those collected by Mr. Borger thus the collections shall compliment each other well. Collection decisions are made by the curator of the collection in consultation with other Libraries administration based on issues of condition, collection development policies, funds for processing, and space for storage, among other criteria and usually on a case by case basis.

    5. Has there been academic interest in the using the collection? I’m especially curious about what departments are interested… cultural studies? english lit?

    One of the U of MN philosophy instructors has been in touch with the CLRC about a freshman seminar he will be leading in the spring term. We will be more actively reaching out to other departments as more and more titles are processed and ready for use.

    Special thanks to Marie for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer these questions.