Librarians Portrayed in Comics
Graphic novel and comic book fans are book lovers, so it is no surprise that libraries and librarians are portrayed fairly frequently in all sorts of graphic works. Here are some comics that feature libraries and librarians and are perfect for some light reading or for a fun library display.
Americus by MK Reed and Jonathan Hill – This book focuses on an event that some libraries know all too well – a book challenge. The main character is a teen named Neal Barton who really just wants to read the latest entry in his favorite fantasy series. But, unfortunately for him, a religious group objects to the book’s “heretical” content and requests that it be removed from the library. Together with a youth services librarian, Neal fights to keep his favorite series on the shelf and for the right of readers to have access to books of all sorts.
Library Wars by Kiiro Yumi – Set in a dystopian future of Japan where the government is allowed to censor anything it finds to be objectionable, the Library Wars manga series follows Iku, a young girl determined to serve in the combat forces of the Library Defense Force. Members of this group save materials from censorship and destruction and take them to libraries that can legally save and protect them.
Rex Libris by James Turner – This series, which starts with I, Librarian, follows Rex Libris, the head librarian at Middleton Public Library as he confronts all manner of foes from the quasi-historical, to the literary, to the science fictional in his never ending quest to track down overdue books and protect his library. The stylized art and humorous tone allow Turner to poke fun at both common comic tropes and librarian stereotypes. Though the plots tend to be over-the-top, the series is a fun and quick read.
Unshelved by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes – Since February 2006, the Unshelved comic strip has chronicled the ups and downs of life in libraries poking fun at typical problems confronted by librarians and lampooning ridiculous patron interactions. Neither patrons nor staff are safe from the humor of the series. Whether you work in a library or just frequent them, you will probably find something to relate to in this series. All of the Unshelved strips are available online (and libraries and educators can even reuse them in some cases as described on their site), but the creators have also published ten collections of the comic over the years.
Batgirl by various authors and artists – One of the most iconic examples of librarians in comics has to be Barbara Gordon, better known by her alias, Batgirl. Debuting in the 1960’s, Batgirl’s day job was as the head librarian at Gotham’s public library, but she was also a superheroine who aided Batman in his crime fighting efforts. After she was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in Alan Moore’s controversial Batman: The Killing Joke, Barbara Gordon went on to be Oracle, a superheroine who didn’t allow her disability to stop her from making use of her computer and information seeking skills as part of the Birds of Prey. In both incarnations, she made use of the skills she gained as a librarian to support her missions as a superheroine.