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Archive for Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Superhero-style fun makes for good reads in ‘graphic’ books

December 10, 2002

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— Forget the Batcave. Batman, Spider-Man and other comic-book heroes have a new home: the library.

Amid newfound respect and growing popularity, graphic novels are filling shelves in libraries and bookstores. Graphic novels tell an original story in comic-book form or collect a previously published comic-book series.

"It's getting to be a bigger field all the time," said Vickie Pasicznyuk, young-adult services coordinator for the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs.

Superhero buffs can find such graphic novels as "Ultimate X-Men: The Tomorrow People" and "Batman: Cataclysm" at the library. But graphic novels stretch far beyond traditional comic-book fare. They range from "Maus," Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust story, to "Road to Perdition," the foundation for the Tom Hanks gangster movie.

The library district has owned several graphic novels such as "Maus" for years, but it is just starting to beef up its collection, Pasicznyuk said.

"It's not a huge collection yet, but it's getting there," she said.

The graphic novels are so popular that Pasicznyuk had to scrap a plan for displays at the various library branches. "They're checked out enough that we can't find a big group of them to have a display."

Graphic novels generally have been lumped together in the adult section, librarian Diane Wisniewski said. But the library just decided to start putting graphic novels of interest to teen readers in the young-adult fiction section, she said.

In selecting graphic novels for the library, Wisniewski relies on references such as Stephen Weiner's "The 101 Best Graphic Novels."

"I'm just learning about them myself," she said.

That's not the case for Steve Raiteri, a librarian at the Greene County Public Library in Xenia, Ohio. A comic-book reader for more than 25 years, he has selected more than 800 graphic novels for his library system and compiled a list of recommended graphic novels for public libraries.

Raiteri has seen acceptance of comics and graphic novels grow.

"There are still some naysayers out there." But, he adds, "there are other people who have realized there are lots of good stories told in comic-book form."

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