“Where do you keep comic books?” the caller inquired, innocently wandering into The Blogsy Zone.
“Ah, that becomes a matter of genre vs. sub-genre, and is worthy of an entire blog,” said I.
“In that case,” she said quickly, “forget I asked.”
Poor deluded girl. Once you’ve triggered a blog, there’s no going back.
Comic books, be they the traditional format known to us from the olden days of supermarket magazine racks, or the higher priced format known as graphic novels, or the intermediate phase called manga, can be found in all sorts of places during the Book Fair. At least to begin with. Last year the volunteers simply gave up and plunked them all down on a table between the mysteries and romances. This was painful to my librarian sensibilities, but they could have done worse.
I’ve had a similar problem this year with pop-up books. I have found that although many pop-ups belong in the Children’s section, the Pop-Up Kama Sutra really needed to go either in Collectibles or in one of the categories where the plain old non-movable version is kept. (Health or Literature, kind of depending on the number of illustrations.) Similarly, we had a couple of collections of gay and lesbian fiction come in this year, and I sorted the mysteries into the Mystery section, the romances into the Romance section, and the westerns in with the Westerns. The same thing happened with the collection of Christian Inspirational Fiction which came in. This means, yes, that you may run into some inspirational westerns next to the lesbian westerns. So far the inspirational gay westerns have not turned up yet. (There was some gay Christian science fiction, though: they do these things just to make sure I’m awake.)
So, anyhow: comic books. The vast run of superheroes will be found in our Science Fiction/Fantasy section, along with assorted Arthurian and Atlantis-based comic books. All of those graphic novels which I, personally, refer to as the “My Rotten Life” stories, will be found in Biography or Books and Authors, since they are actually not novels at all but nonfiction. (Persepolis will be found here, and, more often than not, Maus, though this may turn up in Judaica as well.)
The trend, since the 1970s, toward grim and gritty superhero stories made the comic book/graphic novel a natural for grim and gritty mystery and suspense thrillers. These will be found in the Mystery section. Some of these detectives are more bulletproof than Superman, but this can be found among some prose hardboiled private eyes as well. Oh, and Batman will sometimes be found in mysteries as well: he started as a hardboiled private eye in a cape and cowl, after all.
“I thought you’d put comic books in Children!” complain a number of people who have obviously not been reading in the genre lately. I do, in fact, put Tintin and Uncle Scrooge and Bugs Bunny and other such books in the Children’s section, though, frankly, some of the adventures of Tintin or Uncle Scrooge hang together better than some of the adult narratives. Archie and his imitators, however, are to be found in Humor. The jokes they use are no older than the ones in the Bennett Cerf books, after all. (And may well have come out of the Bennett Cerf books, to be sure.)
The once highly-acclaimed Poetry Comics will be found in Poetry, and you are very likely to find comic books explaining historical events in the History section. Depending on where you draw the line on what is a comic book and what is a prose account that simply has lotsa pictures, comic books are certainly to be found in Philosophy, Psychology, and Science.
The question really becomes “Where will I NOT find any comic books?” Well, to the best of my recollection, there are no comic books this year in Music or Architecture. But that’s okay. We have Pop-Up Books in both categories.