The Good, The Bad, & This Kid: ďComing Back AroundĒ

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This is the sixth month of GBK. I canít believe it anymore then you can. Thatís right, my farce of a column has been running around in the soapbox for six damn months. Iíve watched columns leave the soapbox for their own free standing ones, and Iíve seen other columns appear at SBC, but I stay in the Soapbox. Why? Hell if I know. Iím sure it has something to do with lack of readership and the fact that Iíve no real cornerstone for my column. Who knows what the future holds? Anyway, this little rant is all because of this, Iíve reached the point where I can do a follow up column. Back when I was still on a bi-weekly schedule, I wrote a column about comic books in the public library. I talked a great deal about the library I work at (and still do, going nowhere fast) and what their plans were for graphic novels. Click HERE to check it out.

Well, we at the Public Library, have begun to order graphic novels. Not just silly kid ones either, Iím talking revolutionary super hero graphic literature stuff. So far weíve gotten, Frank Millerís Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil: Yellow, Superman: Peace on Earth, and Astro City: Life in the Big City. We also have both volumes of Maus, some Simpson stuff, Bone, and volume one of Books of Magic. All in all, weíve got some rather impressive stuff. I made a comment in my original column that some of the librarians would pick crap books, but I was wrong. Thankfully, thatís not all I was wrong about.

I ranted a bunch about where the graphic novels would be shelved. I was of the opinion that the librarians in charge would think it best to house the comics in the Childrenís department, which as we know, wouldnít naturally be the best. I was wrong about that as well. All of our comics are being shelved in the adult stacks. As far as I know, we havenít received any comics all that well suited for kids. I think putting the comics in the adult stacks is a good idea. It shows that comics arenít just for little kids, that they can deal with mature themes, and mature readers do enjoy them. On the other hand, this prevents kids from getting to experience comics. Now, when I was growing up, the library didnít have comic books, I got them from the local convenient store. However, convenient stores rarely sell comics anymore. The only places a kid can find a comics without venturing into the perverted comic shop, are book stores and libraries. Just about every book store Iíve ever been in has a section for graphic novels and a section for monthlies. Now, many libraries are starting to carry a wide variety of comic literature. However, if comics are going to survive, the kids have to jump on board. With the number of locations to purchase comics going down, libraries are the only hope in that. Which means, library Children departments need comics too. Obviously donít put books like Watchmen and Preacher in there, but there are all-age comics out there.

The only other weird thing that our library is doing with comics, is theyíre putting them in the non-fiction area. Which means they get a call number, which means theyíre hard to find. I was going to give you all the exact call number, but our catalogue is currently down. Itís 741. something. I didnít, until this week, realize why we file comic books in the non-fiction area. The answer is so damn simple; so that theyíre all together. Once someone finds the call number, then all the comic books that the library owns are right there. This is good, because it really helps narrow down the search, but it sort of belittles the comic book writer. Any other writer of fiction gets his/her book filed by the first three letters of their last name, but a comic book writer is too low on the totem pole for that. No, they all get shoved in a nice little corner so they donít taint the real works of fiction. Neil Gaiman not only has his novels at our library, but now has one of his comics there too. Instead of his comic being near his novels, itís shoved up next to The Simpsons. Yeah, that helps make comics a part of the literary community.

All in all, itís been a long road to the library for comics, but thereís still more road ahead. Itís great that comics are even allowed in the library, it shows that they have come a long way, but more steps need to be taken. We need more all-age comics to go in the Childrenís area (I know, theyíll just get ruined), and we need comics to be looked at with the same light as novels. Comic books are fiction, so put them in the fiction area. Most library catalogues have keyword searches, type in comic books, and theyíll pop up and give you the author. Donít get me wrong, Iím really glad that comics are in the library, and not only because they give me something to look at on the slow days, but because they help establish comics as a viable part of literature. Like I stated in the original column, many parents donít think their kids should read comics, theyíre still of the mindset that comics are evil and diminish their little oneís brain. Now, with comics populating the library, they might be more inclined to let their child discover something they might be more interested in. So, keep up the good work public libraries.

The Good

Well, itís back, again. A couple of weeks ago I watched a movie called Uzumaki, itís a Japanese film about a small town cursed by spirals. The movie was based on a Manga by the same name. Now, anyone who knows me knows I usually donít enjoy Manga, but this one was different. The film was the most unique thing Iíve seen in a long, long time, so I asked a friend of mine if heís heard of it. Heís not only heard of it, he owns all three volumes of the Manga. Apparently this thing is more popular then I knew. Anyway, Iíve read the first volume and Iím half way through the second one, and theyíre just as good as the flick. This may be the one and only time a Manga title will be in The Good, so enjoy this next part.

If youíre like me, and donít really give Manga a chance, try these books out. Itís a fantastic story, and very addictive. If youíve already heard of this title, but werenít sure about it, donít wait anymore, buy it now. If you donít want to listen to me, listen to Warren Ellis :

ďTwo hundred pages of complete bloody lunacyÖFrom a simple, almost funny idea, Uzumaki achieves moments that are seriously disturbing. Tell me the last time any book disturbed you. When you give up, buy Uzumaki

Ellis hits the nail on the head with that quote from the back of Uzumaki volume 2.

Well, thatíll do it for another week of GBK. I hope everyone in the States had a great Thanksgiving, and I look forward to seeing all your shiny faces again next week. ĎTil next timeÖ

-Josh Stone

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