Graphic Novels: A Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, 2nd ed. By Michael Pawuk and David S. Serchay. Genreflecting Advisory Series. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2017. 719 p. Acid free $65 (ISBN: 978-1-59884-700-0). E-book available (ISBN: 978-1-4408-5136-0), call for pricing.

This timely single-volume guide is brimming with useful information for graphic novel enthusiasts. In 719 pages, author-librarians Michael Pawuk and David S. Serchay, curate a highly user-friendly resource. The contents of the guide are organized into nine chapters, each representing a different genre; individual titles are listed by genre, and if appropriate, subgenre. Each entry includes a description of the title as well as various symbols. First, symbols are used to specify whether the work has received an award; additional symbols indicate if the work is considered to be a core title, as well as symbols for titles that have connections to film, television, gaming, or anime. The authors also conveniently provide symbols that designate the age-appropriateness and recommended reading level of the title. Each of these features allows readers to identify disparate information in a single resource.

In addition to the individual entries, this work also includes several value-added features. In the front matter of the book, the authors explain the difference between comic books, trade paperbacks, and graphic novels, which could be useful for someone who is unfamiliar with the history and rise of comic books as a literary medium. Additionally, the authors provide three appendixes: “Recommended Additional Book Sources,” “Publishing Companies on the Internet,” and “Other Online Sources.” There are also three indexes: “Creator,” “Title,” and “Subject.” Each of these features contributes to a greater understanding of the medium, as well as assisting readers in the discovery of new resources.

In comparison, M. Keith Booker’s Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels (Greenwood, 2010) is organized alphabetically, which makes it most useful for finding information about known items, rather than locating new titles. Entries are mixed together in alphabetical order, with authors, artists, genres, characters, publishers, and titles listed alongside each other. This organization, along with the fact that this work was written by multiple authors, leads to the information appearing somewhat disjointed. For example, while perusing the “A” section of the encyclopedia there is an entry for “Adaptations from other Media” (3). This entry is much broader than other entries, and the information included could have been conveyed in a more user-friendly way, such as the use of symbols, as used by Pawuk and Serchay. This entry is situated between entries for the illustrator “Adams, Neal” and the genre “Adventure Comics.” This arrangement is less than ideal, and readers who are new to graphic novels may find this resource less useful for discovery than Pawuk and Serchay’s Graphic Novels: A Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More.

An additional difference between these resources is in the selection of titles for inclusion. Each of these books discuss works published in the United States, but Pawuk and Serchay have a broader scope. In the Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels, the editor notes that emphasis was placed on comics published in the United States by American writers and illustrators. Booker states, “The rich comics traditions in Europe and Japan are given less emphasis” (xxi). Pawuk and Serchay state that Graphic Novels: A Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More includes titles published throughout the world, with an emphasis on North American and Asian publishers. The authors also note, “A good portion of the book features Asian titles, mostly due in part to the ‘manga explosion’ which has reinvigorated the graphic novel field” (xxxi).

Since the audience for this literary medium is diverse, with titles being sought after by children, teens, adults, and scholars, it is highly recommended for school, public, and academic libraries.—Lisa Presley, Assistant Professor, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio


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