Using comics as Readers Advisory

After reading a blog post about recommending prose fiction to young adult readers who were only interested in graphic novels I remembered a discussion about using comics to provide information that I’d had at a conference. Suddenly I realized that comics can be a great way to do readers advisory!

Unshelved is a well known webcomic that’s set in a public library. Every Friday they post a book club with reviews of assorted books and comics, and one of the reviews is always in comic form. They cross the spectrum from Anne of Green Gables to Illustration School to Plato’s Republic! Most of them are by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes (Unshelved’s creators), but there are also guest reviews from time time time. What’s awesome is that the creators have given permission for libraries to print out and post these book reviews! I bet some of them would look great as posters. (Just make sure you leave their credits on the images.)

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Faith Erin Hicks (creator of Friends with Boys and Zombies Calling) drew some really neat review comics for Tor’s website last year. Hicks did comics about the manga Full Metal Alchemist, Madeleine’ L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and the movie Prometheus. They’re pretty great, and while there are a couple of other movie reviews on the site,  I wish Hicks had done more about books. (Though she did do this pretty rad Hunger Games fan comic).

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John Bonner has also been doing comic book reviews on Tor’s website, but he posts more of them on his own blog. He reviewed Wild by Cheryl Strayed, REAMDE by Neal Stephenson, and perhaps most interestingly the audio book version of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, plus lots more! He mostly reviews science fiction and fantasy books, but there are comics about other genres too.

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Political cartoonist Ted Rall has also done a number of reviews in comic book form. He’s reviewed Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine, Anna Badkhen The World is a Carpet, and the Occupied Wall Street Journal. He hasn’t done many of these, but the Badkhen review came out last month, so hopefully more will be on the way!

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Comic books as reviews are clearly not that developed as a form, but it’s interesting to see how people combine words and images to review something that exists only as words. It gives an extra dimension to the reviews as you’re able to see how the author saw the characters and locations in the book. If you have patrons who like drawing you could even ask them to draw comics about books that they like!

Do you know about any reviews as comic books that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

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This entry was posted in Genres, RA Tools and tagged , on by .

About thematthewmurray

Matthew recently completed his MLIS at the University of British Columbia School of Library, Archival & Information Studies in Vancouver, Canada. He currently spends his time acting as webmaster for the BCLA Readers' Advisory Interest Group and ASIS&T's Digital Libraries special interest group, content editing for the graphic novel review site No Flying No Tights, and organizing gaming and zine related events for American Library Association conferences. He's the editor of the fiction anthology zine Two-Fisted Library Stories, and is really into Raspberry Pi computers and maker stuff in general.

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