DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Oct 29 2009

Manga Library

by Jesse M

astro-boy-number-one Tokyo based Meiji University has announced plans to open the world’s first manga library, in order to help promote serious study of the style. Upon its inception (“hopefully” by early 2015) the proposed institution will house over two million comic books, animation drawings, and other related industry items. For those that aren’t familiar with the word, manga is simply the Japanese word for comics. In the US and elsewhere it is often used as a catch-all term to refer to any comic created or originally published in Japan, though it is also considered to be a distinct artistic style and format and therefore other works may be referred to as manga despite not originating in Japan (such as “Amerimanga” or “Manwha“). Whereas in the US, comic books are more typically associated with costumed superheroes, manga is published in every genre, from horror to romance to science fiction to sports, just to name a few. Despite its broad range, manga can generally be divided into two categories based on target demographic, with shonen manga designed to appeal to boys and shojo manga aimed at girls. Due to its Japanese origins, most manga is printed front to back, so that the book is read from right to left (some manga series published for the US market are printed in the traditional manner, however, such as Astro Boy). Another distinguishing feature of manga are the artistic quirks; characters are often drawn with large eyes and small mouths and noses, and internal emotional states are naruto-number-1-coverdisplayed by using iconography such as beads of sweat on the forehead to indicate embarrassment or bulging, pulsing veins in the same area to express anger. For more extensive information, recommendations, and more eloquent explanations about the different types of manga, take a look at these posts by a former DCPL blogger on the subject (Manga Mania part 1, part 2, and part 3) To conclude, here are a few of my favorite manga. Some of the titles have been adapted into anime series that the DCPL catalog stocks on DVD, and I have linked them in parentheses. Enjoy!

Naruto (DVD): The quintessential ninja manga (though some might argue the seminal Dragonball series of comics are more deserving of that appellation).

one-piece-number-one-coverOne Piece: If pirate adventures are more your style, this is the series for you. ranma-1-half-number-oneAnd last but certainly not least, Ranma 1/2: An excellent example of the eclectic and varied nature of manga, Ranma 1/2 tells the tale of martial artists who fall into cursed springs and as a result upon contact with cold water take the form of whoever, or whatever, died in the spring they fell into (they revert back to normal when exposed to warm water). The martial arts action is tempered with a healthy dose of romantic comedy which makes for rousing entertainment for teenagers and adults alike.


For this post I wanted to examine a collection that is perhaps the most likely to be misunderstood, overlooked, or dismissed as just “kid stuff”: the graphic novel.  The label encompasses a wide variety of material, but most simply, a graphic novel is “any extended form of comics, including non-fiction and short story collections.” (a definition borrowed from Grossman and Lacayo of TIME magazine).

maus-cover2While some graphic novels in the DCPL catalog do resemble the comics you read as a kid (such as the 7 volume Essential X-men series, each of which compiles 20-30 issues of the comic book), it would be a mistake to think that costumed superheroes are the extent of what graphic novels have to offer. In fact, there are graphic novels appropriate for all tastes and age categories. Adults interested in serious nonfiction should check out Maus, a Pulitzer Prize winning Holocaust narrative wherein all the people are portrayed as anthropomorphic animals (for example, the Jews are mice, while the Germans are cats). For something the whole family can enjoy, try Bone, a tale of adventure with heavy doses of humor and fantasy which TIME magazine called “the best all-ages novel yet published in this medium“. And no description of the category would be complete without mentioning what many consider the best of the genre, the seminal Watchmen. This masterpiece was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “The greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives worthy of the label literature,” and was recently adapted into a major motion picture.watchmen-cover

Speaking of graphic novels which have been adapted into films, there are several others available in the DCPL catalog, notably Sin City and V For Vendetta (the latter is also available in graphic novel format).

So give graphic novels a try and check one out. Just look for GN on the spine label. You’ll never think of them as just “kid stuff” again.


Jun 5 2009


by Lesley B

You can find comics in your newspaper — if you have a magnifying glass and if there’s still a paper published in your town. If not, you’ll have to  follow the paper and the comics to your computer. The companies that syndicated the comics to the papers have websites. Comics.com, United Feature Syndicate’s site, is the most generous, giving you 6 months of your favorite strip for free online and you can go all the way back to 1950 for Peanuts and to 1979 for Dilbert.  King Features, home of Baby Blues and Mutts, puts just 4 days online for free and lets you subscribe to the archives for an annual fee. Gocomics gives you a few days of one of my favorites, Calvin and Hobbes.

But Calvin’s Duplicator isn’t quite the same online. Where can you go to find comics printed on good old-fashioned paper? Next time you’re in the library, stroll on over to the books labeled 741.5973. That’s where you’ll find comic strip collections at the library. Calvinball players, unite!


Aug 5 2008

The Summer for Comic Book Lovers

by Heather S

This has truly been the summer for those who love comic books and the superheroes who fight crime in them. We have seen history being made with the release of the latest in the Batman saga – The Dark Knight grossing over $155 million dollars in a weekend, beating the record set by Spiderman 3. We have also seen the launch and hopefully permanent establishment of Marvel Studios with the successful release of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk.

By now, you may be asking yourself why would the Library blog about movies based on comic books. Well, I am glad you asked. Since the Library is the place that has a little for everyone, we also have something for comic book lovers. We have books for those interested in learning more about the superheroes and their origins, we have quite a few of the films and cartoons on DVDs and we even have a few comic books. So the next time you are in between movies and want to refresh your memory, check out the library. We may have just what you need. Below is a select list of what we have available.

Ultimate Guides, Origin Stories, & Encyclopedias

Comics & Graphic Novels

  • Batman series
  • Essential X-Men
  • Fantastic Four
  • Justice League International
  • Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes
  • Ultimate Spiderman

Movies & Cartoons

  • Blade Trilogy
  • Daredevil
  • Fantastic Four
  • Hellboy
  • Hulk
  • Justice League
  • Justice League Unlimited
  • Spiderman Trilogy
  • Superman Trilogy
  • Teen Titans
  • X-Men Trilogy

NOTE: This post has been brought to you by Tamika S!


Feb 27 2008

Shonen Manga: Not just Ninjas

by Heather O

Marketed for boys and young men; the less flowery looking shonen (shounen) manga has lots ofNaruto_2
action and sometimes humorous plots with the spotlight being on the boys. You can see similarities in many shonen: ninja/samurai, jokes, hot girls with tiny outfits, monsters/mecha/magic- but they really can be quite different and some tackle mature themes and have inner conflict. The girls in shonen are sometimes more than the typical exaggerated proportions damsel-in-distress, but the action and the plot is ulitmately
about guys and can also have lots of male camaraderie: teams, gangs, ninjas, samurai, etc. Goddess_3
The older the audience for the shonen- the more blood, nudity, or serious themes the manga can have. Seinen manga, written for older guys, is often just grouped in with shonen especially outside of Japan. Shonen runs the gamut from the toilet humor of Naruto to the no action or humor suspense thriller Death Note.

The magazine where most shonen makes a debut is Shonen Jump: DCPL has it at the Brookhaven, Chamblee,
Clarkston, Covington, Decatur, Dunwoody, Flat Shoals, Northlake, Salem-Panola,
Stone Mountain, and Tucker branches.

What DCPL has:

Death Note: A god of death drops a notebook into the human world giving a human the power to kill just by writing in a name. The series then follows the very detailed cat and mouse game between the owner of the death note and the people who are trying to figure it all out, and stop it. A rare manga that has almost no action, romance, or humor; it is driven by an eerie psychological and well-paced plot.

Dragon Eye: Only one volume in DCPL so far, but this futuristic vampires-viruses-action tale looks pretty cool so far.

Full Metal Alchemist:
A very cool manga (and anime of course) set in an alternate world full of alchemy, magic, early 20th century era technology and fashion with a bit of a Japanese flavor to it all. This manga has humor, very cool magical fights, and a good deal of horror- both monsters and the monstrous things within humanity.

Modern day girl falls into a feudal Japan complete with demons and
other cool or scary creatures. A lot of action, a little romance and angst, and
a good deal of humor make this a very popular manga and long-running

Naruto: Teen ninjas! Humorous (younger kids will find this really funny), and for boys who want to see fighting and camaraderie.

Samurai Deeper Kyo: A fairly bloody manga about a legendary samurai who must fight demons, gods, and lots of other fighters to get his real body back- which he happens to be sharing with the powerful character who can beat him. With plenty of blood and some nudity, this manga does have a 16+ notice on it.

Ranma 1/2: Cute manga that will appeal to girls too with its romantic aspects. Ranma is cursed to become Ranma
a girl when hit with cold water, but luckily he/she can still fight in any form. Plenty of humor also in this cute series- Ranma’s father is cursed to turn into a panda and for some reason the scenes with him really make me giggle.

——I know less about these shonen below, but we do have them in our libraries.

Set in a magic medieval world, demons who feed on humans are fought and hunted by supernatural female warriors known as Claymores- but for a price. But in this dark fantasy, who and what are the Claymores? I’ve heard good things about this one.

Oh my Goddess!: Seriously, it *is* shonen! An average-Joe college guy accidentally gets his very own goddess- hijinks ensue.

One Piece: This manga is the 3rd highest selling in the history of Shonen Jump, humorous plot about aOnepiece
group of pirates always searching and fighting for the world’s ultimate treasure that will make the captain the pirate king. How can a manga about pirates NOT do well?

Yu-Gi-oh!: Anime, card game, video game; the manga that started it all is about a boy and his friends fighting monsters.


Feb 13 2008

Manga Mania Part 2: Girls Rule!

by Heather O

Absobf Petshop Shugo_2 Dna Card Marm Girl

Since I plan on doing multiple posts on manga; I’ll start with the manga for the girls- Shojo. Shojo manga is intended for a vast audience of girls as young as 10 up to 18, the term for manga for older girls and women is Josei but girls and women of all ages read Shojo. Artistically, Shojo is full of very, very, pretty girls and boys (which leads to the gender slapstick that is a hallmark of many manga),  and plenty of romance. Shojo is also drawn with lots of hearts, stars, flowers, bubbles, etc around the characters when they have pretty much any emotion. The older Shojo mangas had female protagonists who were often ‘magical’- they were special in some way- princesses or like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Different mangas have different Nana_3
plots, and many Shojo manga have very adult themes and are aimed at older teens or young Hero
adults. For
example Nana is a fun Shojo manga about rock stars and young adults living in Tokyo, and much like “Friends” the series does contain sexuality, smoking, alcohol, and  references to drug use. Crimson Hero is obviously aimed at athletic grrls; its cast focuses on middle-school age volleyball players and the drama of team rivalries and friendships, but is light on the romance.

Shojo throughout DCPL-

Absolute Boyfriend
Romantic triangle between a girl, her new boyfriend who happens to not be a real person, and the boy next door who has always liked her.

Cardcaptor SakuraThe very ideal of a Shojo manga in many ways. A young girl accidentally opens a magical book that releases magical creatures which she, now being magical herself, must get back. Not very romantic, but this manga spawned a long-lived anime series and lots of games related to it. Kind of a girly Pokeman.

DN AngelLegendary thief inhabits the body of a teen boy when he thinks about his girl crush; romance, strange magics, and normal teen angst make for a fun action manga.


Fruits BasketOne of the girliest mangas I have ever read: the Sohma family has an odd curse- they change into different animals of the Chinese zodiac (yes, manga is Japanese) when someone of the opposite gender hugs them. The drama follows when the family has to reconcile with a super-girlie outsider who wants to help break the curse.

Girl Got GameClassic girl dressed up like a guy for the basketball team- then falls in love with her guy roommate and high school drama follows.

Kamikaze GirlsSingle volume manga and movie based on a novel, a motorcycle riding bad-girl and a frilly fashionable girl have adventures and learn to become best friends in spite of their differences.

Marmalade BoyOne of the few non-supernatural Shojo manga in the library. This one is all about the romantic relationship pitfalls of teens.

Pet Shop of Horrors– No romance in this older teen/adult manga (Josei); the pet shop is home to wondrous  supernatural creatures with each episode having a message within the horror and humour.

Shugo Chara!Cute manga about young teens with magical eggs that become guardian spirits; who then struggle against a shadowy organization. And there are ‘bad eggs’ of course in the manga with bad guardian spirits.

Shojo Beat Magazine– Subscriptions in the Chamblee, Clarkston, Covington, Decatur, Dunwoody, Flat Shoals, Northlake, Salem-Panola, Stone Mountain, Tucker branches.

{ 1 comment }

Feb 6 2008

Manga Mania Part 1

by Heather O

Manga: You’ve heard it, probably seen it, and almost every 10-25 year-old in the country can name several series and characters. The word “manga” refers to Japanese comic books and many serious fans (otaku) can argue that only comics drawn in Japan are actual manga, but the Japanese style is so mainstream and popular that it has become a global phenomena.

Manga style is different from Western comics in several ways: it is read from right to left, multiple episodes are bound into books instead of single episode pamphlets, characters are drawn with exaggerated emotions and actions to the point being cartoonish, some characters (especially girls and ‘good’ guys) are often drawn in a rounded style with largeManga5_2

round eyes and small round mouths, fewer words are used allowing fast action to move the plots forward, and manga is primarily drawn in black and white with a single or few
color inserts. Sometimes manga can be very “lost in translation”, you may wonder about some joke you don’t get or why all of the sudden the super-extreme close-up of the action seems to take more than one page. Characters can often be drawn so cute and so pretty that you have to read a little dialogue before you discover that the pretty girl is actually a boy, especially if they have long purple hair (manga is full of crazy hair). To add even more confusion, gender switching slapstick is almost as popular in manga as big robots.


Since manga is read by all ages and genders in Japan, there are different styles of manga appealing to everyone’s taste. Shonen manga for boys and teens, is usually action packed and funny. Shoujo (shojo) is aimed at girls and teens, so melodrama and romance are featured. For men and older teens, the seinen genre can contain more adult themes including violence, serious themes, and sexuality. Older teens  and women have the josei (redikomi) genre that has been compared to some of the paperback romance novels or even nighttime soap operas popular in the United States; these manga tend to have more realistic romantic situation or more adult themes. Finally, Kodomo is a genre aimed at younger kids.

Some Web Resources:

Great guide to all kinds of graphic novels including manga written by a librarian: No Flying, No Tights

Public Library of Brookline has a great FAQ for teens and parents interested in manga.

Wired magazine has a cool, interactive manga 101 site.

Manga for Parents

Next on Part 2: Now I know what it is, what should I read and what does the library have?

{ 1 comment }

Bone_cover While I vaguely remember reading some Archie comics as a child, it wasn’t until the late eighties that I really started reading comics.  Not being a huge fan of the superheroes, I began reading comics after discovering titles like Sandman, Bone, Maus, and Swamp ThingAt the time, comics were still pretty much thought of as “just for kids,” but in 1993, DC Comics launched their Vertigo imprint, described as a more mature line of “serious, innovative fiction told in compelling visuals.” Moving away from mainstream family-friendly fare, these titles became a cult success and began to attract a whole new audience to comics, including women and those who had never really read comics before–readers just like myself.

As that generation of readers has grown older (and perhaps moved into jobs in the entertainment and comics industries), comics in general have become more mainstream.  Movies based on comics have become more numerous in recent years, and comics are now widely available in many bookstores and even–you guessed it–libraries. 

Libraries have slowly but surely started to collect comics and graphic novels.  DeKalb County Public Library began adding titles to the collection a few years ago, originally in the Young Adult collection. More recently, titles have been added to the children’s and adult collections.  In DCPL’s catalog, you will find various types of books (including graphic novels, manga, and comic trade paperbacks) listed under the subject heading of “graphic novels.”  To make it easier to find them in the catalog and on the shelf, many of these titles are now labeled “GN” for graphic novel.  GN titles include fiction, non-fiction, and biography, and are available for a wide range of reading levels for children, teens, and adults.  Graphic novels are also labeled according to their collection: J (juvenile), Y (young Adult), or B (biography).  Each library may shelve these books differently, so ask at your local branch for where the graphic novel collection is located.  Remember that these items are designated as  J, Y, or adult to reflect age-appropriateness, so use these guidelines and your own judgement when selecting titles for children!

To find graphic novel titles in the DCPL catalog for teens and adults, click HERE.

For more information on comics and graphic novels, check out these links:

ALA Resources for Comics and Graphic Novels

Recommended Graphic Novels for Public Libraries

Great Graphic Novels for Teens from the American Library Association

Comic Books for Young Adults

Kid-safe Graphic Novels from Brodart

TIME Top Ten Graphic Novels

{ Comments on this entry are closed }