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The BGNA is here! Why GNRCT’s first Adult Graphic Novel Reading List is a big deal

A list of best graphic novels for adults has long been missing from the industry - but that has just changed.

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The BGNA is here and that is good news for everyone. Ever since the GNRCT (Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table) advocacy group was formed as part of the ALA, they’ve been talking about one of their key projects being a reading list for adult graphic novels. In fact, I first told you how big this was two years ago! 

Now, the first Best Graphic Novels for Adults list was announced a few weeks back. Torsten had great coverage of the top 10, but I wanted to circle back and stress what a big deal this is.

The reason? Adult graphic novel collections have been a weak spot in libraries for a while now.  YALSA’s Great Graphic Novel List for Kids is well established among librarians as a guide to what to buy, but building adult collections is often much more difficult. GNRCT’s new list is a shortcut for librarians to noteworthy titles, and should result in more purchases.

And yes, I know COVID has upended everything about libraries, but someday they’ll be back to the new normal and tools like this are what will be needed to rebuild. Discovering new books is especially hard now — readers may not even have a chance to see them — and a list like this is a huge help.

Every time I talk to librarians, one of the biggest challenges they relate is the difficulty in buying for their adult collections. Kids’ comics are so well established now — and were among libraries’ biggest circulators — but adult readers often don’t know where to start with multi-volume superhero series, or beyond the Big Five Classics of Watchmen, Maus, Dark Knight Returns, Smile and Persepolis. Also, in the past, traditional comics publishers weren’t always clear on the best way to work with libraries to get them information and review materials.

That has all changed.

As GNRCT president elect Matthew Noe says:

The complete 2020 BGNA Reading List, including a Top Ten, is available online. GNCRT President-Elect Matthew Noe said of the new list “While the growth of comics for children and young adults has received well-deserved praise and attention across ALA, the same hasn’t held true for adult comics. I’m thrilled that the GNCRT is now addressing that gap with the launch of this list! I look forward to the continuation and growth of this work within the round table. Not only will the Best Graphic Novels for Adults list continue in the years to come, but we are also continuing our collaboration with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in creating a series of Black Lives Matter Comics Reading Lists – highlighting and celebrating Black creators and stories in comics”

The BGNA list  — and the BLM reading lists — is sure to become another great resource for librarians. And the long list truly shows the diversity among comics publishers, and how deep the bench is of imprints that are putting out good work, from the usual suspects like D&Q, Abrams, and Fantagraphics to newcomers like TKO and Street Noise — both represented in the Top Ten.

While again, COVID times have set back a lot of plans and goals, the GNRCT is still working on projects like an adult award for comics, and even more resources. This is the reason why the industry welcomed the formation of the GNRCT, and why their agenda has been so important to getting comics read in more and more places.  

And guess what: they are not done! The tireless folks at the GNRCT are working on a Best Graphic Novels for Children Reading List!

 

You can find out more about the GNRCT and the resources they offer, and maybe even join or buy some merchandise to support their mission, at their website.

2 COMMENTS

  1. To say working on an Adult Graphic Novel collection in a Library is difficult is an understatement. I was assigned (well, sort of volunteered) to create one for the City of Orange Public Library & History Center, about a year before I retired in 2017. Given only around a thousand dollars for purchases, I did what I could, adding donations from the public, items I personally donated and some graphic novels already in our circulating collection. I know the amount of research necessary and am glad that the ALA, is finally giving Librarians further material to help. The Roundtable and Librarians working on these collections have my complete respect.

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