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The Avengers in the Stacks
Posted On June 6, 2017
Which comic book adaptations are you planning to see at the movies this summer? There’s usually at least one, and this year, you’ve got DC’s Wonder Woman and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming. If any of those options appeal to you, you’re the perfect candidate to get hooked on comic books—if you aren’t already, that is. After all, comics are a mainstream form of entertainment these days, and libraries have taken notice.

Graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, a frequent speaker at American Library Association events, tells Entertainment Weekly:

When I started in comics in the late ’90s, Marvel Comics had declared bankruptcy. It was not the powerhouse it is today. … I would go to these panels where publishers would talk about how we were about to see the death of the American comic book. … To have the entire industry go from there to here, where pretty much everyone you meet on the street knows what a graphic novel is—it’s amazing. … I never would’ve been able to imagine that I would be full-time in comics, and I am now. I also never would’ve imagined that the world would be so interested in comics … [t]hat you’d be able to find them in pretty much every library, that people would talk about them in colleges, that they’d be regularly assigned in college classes—all of that is just a 180 from what it was like when I was starting off.

Yang’s point that comic books generate worldwide interest is illustrated by how the media covers new developments in the industry. In May 2016, there was backlash when Marvel revealed that in an upcoming book, Captain America would secretly be part of the villainous Hydra organization. (Type into your address bar for a laugh.) Major outlets such as USA TODAY, MTV, and TIME ran stories. In April 2017, Marvel got into trouble again when its VP of sales seemed to blame declining sales on the addition of nonwhite and female characters to its stable of superheroes. The New York Times, the BBC, Gizmodo, and The Guardian were among the high-profile outlets that covered the story.

Comics in Libraries

Both academic and public libraries could benefit from making comics part of their collections. The New York Public Library has a comprehensive guide for anyone looking to learn more, and if you’re curious, reddit has an interesting discussion about the difference between comic books and graphic novels.

According to Publishers Weekly, “Graphic novel collections have become a staple of libraries across North America. But with greater popularity comes greater scrutiny and new issues,” such as the tendency for graphic novels to be challenged, most likely because their visual format makes any objectionable content more explicit—and parents may mistakenly assume that all graphic novels are aimed at young readers. Publishers Weekly also explores the rise in popularity of digital comics, comics-related events at libraries, and the difficulties in translating web-based comics into formats suitable for library lending.

Lending Comics With hoopla digital

hoopla digital is one of the vendors that lends digital comics to libraries. Michael Manon, the company’s public relations and communications manager, spoke to NewsBreaks about hoopla’s comic book collection. His responses have been condensed and edited.

Why did hoopla decide to start offering digital comics along with ebooks, audiobooks, movies and TV shows, and music?

hoopla digital is a fan of comics. We view this as an important content category to offer to our libraries and their patrons. We are working with a range of publishers to provide our library customers with dynamic content and comics are a centerpiece of our offering.

What can you tell me about digital comics’ formatting?

Our one-of-a-kind Action View feature provides immersive digital reading via full-page and panel-by-panel views of comics and illustrations. Our Action View capabilities were specifically created for comic book fans to zoom in and interact with the comic book, just as they would with the physical copy.

What can a library signing up with hoopla expect to be able to tell patrons about the comics offerings? How many comics, from how many publishers, are now available?

hoopla currently offers more than 9,000 comic books from 73 publishers. Some of our publishers include DC Comics, Disney, Dark Horse Comics, Abrams, Sesame Workshop and Valiant, just to name a few.

What can you tell me about the future of hoopla’s comics offerings?

hoopla is deeply invested in the comics category and we are working diligently to bring even more comic books to our libraries and their patrons.

Is there anything else you think it’s important for libraries to know about digital comics?

We are seeing incredible patron participation in comics. The borrows and engagement are high, and we’re excited to have comics serve as motivating factor for the public to secure a library card and deepen their relationship with the library on and off hoopla. 

Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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