Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Improper cataloging can be dangerous ;)

For this Bibliowhining article, I'm going back to my humble beginnings as a librarian blogger to share my experiences with cataloging comic books -- specifically, comics of the serialized magazine-type variety. I originally wrote this guide for a couple of my friends and colleagues in IST 616: Organization and Access, but I hope it will be helpful to other librarians and library workers. It's not a complete tutorial on cataloging comic books, but it deals with one of the most common problems: how to determine the title of the work.

Happy New Year! I hope that 2010 will bring more dialogue between librarians and comic book industry professionals so that future generations will be able to find that special issue with the utmost ease.

Let the lessons begin after the cut.

How to Find the Title of a Comic Book
By Chrissy Spallone, MSLIS Candidate, Syracuse University
Graduate Assistant, Cataloging Dept., Bird Library

Recently, someone at Archie comics came up with the brilliant marketing plan to have Archie choose between Betty and Veronica.

(spoiler alert!)

But what is the title of this particular comic book? Is this issue part of the “Archie” series, or is it a separate miniseries titled “Archie Marries Veronica” or “Archie Marries Veronica: “The Proposal””?

Here’s the title page, which is what is usually referred to when cataloging books:

The title is the same as on the front cover. Also, the issue number is not present, only the information indicating that this is part 1 of this particular story. The issue # on the front cover is #600, but if we were to catalog this the way we catalog a regular book, it would be separated from the rest of the comic books under the “Archie” title. Plus, it might be filed physically somewhere after “Archie and Friends” and before “Archie Meets the Punisher,” two “spin off” titles separate from “Archie”.

But let’s look at the indicia, located on the opposite page from the inside back cover (click to enlarge):

The indicia never lies: here we can see that this comic book is under the “Archie” title. It’s “Archie” #600. On the front cover and title page, liberties are often taken for artistic or promotional reasons. But the indicia in the back almost always has a typed-out, dry listing of the official information. Catalogers should look at this when making decisions about titles, etc.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share this information with your favorite librarian.

By the way, "In The Back" would have been so much more appropriate for this entry title.


  1. Good tip, Chrissy! Comic books are so often cataloged terribly. There's nothing more frustrating than finding a record for, say, Sandman at your local library, but no information about what volume it is!

    (I don't think I saw you all semester, hope you're doing well and enjoyed winter break!)

  2. Hey there Laura! Winter break was fun. I'm glad you're still following my blog, and hope you're doing well also.

    I should add that the indicia I mentioned isn't always found in the back of the comic, and in self-published minicomics and other such undergrounds, it's unlikely to be there at all. But it's a good first thing to check when it is there, since it has the most accurate/consistent information.