Comics & the ‘Young Adult’ Misnomer

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Legends in Exile
Fables: Legends in Exile

I opted against a secondary-education degree because I chose not to suffer the politicking of a school-board or the – in my opinion – backward mores of parents-with-their-child’s-interests-at-heart. I thought it a crime to put highschoolers through what we humored by teaching an abridged Huck Finn that omitted whole chapters and “niggers”. While I would probably think thrice about putting Vampire Porn (Laurell K. Hamilton!?) on the shelves in the Young Adult section, I don’t suppose I’m going to scar anyone if there is a non-explicit sex scene or the wonderfully expressive “oh, – shit.”

So, my first batch of graphic novels for the library arrived the other day. This sub-section was previously reserved for Manga – which I don’t really object to – but I reckoned I’d populate it with some of the Westernmost GN best-reads – Neil Gaimans and Alan Moores; Batmans and Marvels and Fables.

Earlier this morning I caught a tad bit of flack because Fables: Legends in Exile has the nude upperback of a woman and some foul language. My argument is that this section is reserved to young adults, complete with the unabridged Twains and Melvilles and the Ellen Hopkins books (which are great, but certainly not childish!) – let alone non-fiction sexual education stuff and, worse yet, Britney Spears biographies! To reshelve Fables in the hallowed aisles of Adults 741.5 means, not so much a hypocrisy, but just a general ignorance and archaic stigmatization of books with pictures. Agh.

I ought to point them to Chris Wilson’s The Graphic Classroom and reestablish the tired case that Comics have literary merit

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4 responses »

  1. I imagine there are many more librarians and media specialists going through the same thing — how to tap into this incredibly rich genre of graphic novels and still maintain a balance between the censorship police and appropriate material for children. I like how you explain this is for young adults.
    I’m sure you will have some readers happy to see your new collection.
    And isn’t that what it should be about? Engaging readers?

    Thanks and good luck
    Kevin

  2. One of my more-or-less minor (but aggravating) upsets is that the Graphic Novel section for the adults is buried deep within non-fiction. There is no display. There is no sign that reads the DDS call-number -and- “Graphic Novels.” Unless you were specifically searching for a GN in our card catalogue, you’d never guess it was there. Graphic Novels are like a dirty secret.

  3. We have some of the same problems at our library. The fable novels are categorized in the adult section and we always keep a display of graphic novels for adults. Most adults still come up to the teen room and browse for graphic novels. Even with the display they are not aware that we ahve cgraphic novels for them. The really graphic material is categorized in adults and the rest of the items are in the young adult section. There are a couple of novels that are in both sections, which I myself don’t understand the reasoning behind it. For example we have the whole series of Runaways in the Y.A. and adult section, Persopolis is the same way. Surprisingly The Watchman and Batman Strikes again is only in the Y.A. section.

  4. Our Batman and Watchman are in the Adult section as well, which seems semi-appropriate, but I wish it were not buried in the non-fiction. I had a very civil row with our very kindly Co-Op director, who just shook her head and apologized and said it was based on community standards which are established by non-Librarians. I understand, but coming from a very progressive college-town, I can’t help be bummed a little.

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