Access points for graphic novels

From my cataloguing courses I always understood that if a work had an artist and an author the cataloguer should make a main entry (tag 100) for the person chiefly responsible for the work.  The other person would be entered as an added entry (tag 700).

method_man-novel-coverFor instance if you are cataloguing a children’s storybook that has illustrations, the author would get the main entry and the illustrator the added entry.

However… in the case of graphic novels, the illustrations make up the bulk of the work.   The artist’s contribution to graphic novels overshadows that of the writer.

My personal opinion is that when dealing with graphic novels one should be consistent and always use the artist as the main entry, providing an added entry for the author of the text.  Anyone searching for copy lately will realize that there seems to be no consistency whatsoever.  Some give the main entry to the author, some to the artist.  To my horror, I have found copy that names only the author and the artist is not even given an added entry.  This practice is in direct violation of AACR2 rule 21.30K2.

To further muddy the argument, we must remember Rule 21.24 Collaboration between Artist and Writer.  Rule 21.24 states that ‘collaboration’ in this case means that the artist and the author have worked jointly to produce the work.  The rule states that if collaboration exists then the main entry is entered under the person named first on the title page, with an added entry provided for the second named person.  A further obstacle to consistent cataloguing is that many graphic novels do not have title pages, and often the publisher gets very creative with the cover.  Another question that arises is What sort of access is given to pencillers, colorists and letterers?  I consider the pencillers to be  the artists, while the colorists and letterers play an inferior role.

I would be very interested in hearing how others face these cataloguing challenges.

Remember the cataloguer’s mantra…. I will be consistent, I will be consistent, I will be consistent, I will be consistent…

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3 responses to “Access points for graphic novels

  1. Dorothy Gracie

    I, too (as you being my coworker are well aware!), strive to follow your cataloguing mantra. Might I suggest a slight addendum?

    I will be consistent, I will be consistent, I will be consistent…unless I’m feeling particularly rebellious that day and decide to exhibit the oft- relied upon Subsection B exception mantra: “Artistic license is the right of every self-indulgent cataloguer”.

    p.s. You’re talking to someone here who consistently puts their 500 notes in a particular order or cannot sleep at night…

  2. Craig at NSPL

    I’d have to disagree with listing the artist as main entry being a good general rule.

    Admittedly, there are cases where the artist is truly more responsible for the content (for example, Hellboy : Seed of Destruction, which is created and drawn by Mike Mignola, with scripting by John Byrne) ; that said, in cases where they are more responsible, they generally have the “pull” to have the first listing.

    In most cases my understanding is that the process is that the writer drives the story by producing a script, and the artist creates content to fill in and elaborate on what the writer created. The level of collaboration varies based on the team involved, from mutual teamwork (with each getting the other to implement changes, and possibly collaborating on the plot before script, art or characters are developed) to subservience (where one simply implements the wishes of the other).

    Parallel it to collaborations between Name Author A and Unknown Author B ; often, A will have provided little more than a plot outline (in some cases, not even seeing the product again until it’s published); B’s work is predominate, but the rules still give the main entry to A because he or she is listed first.

    In terms of added entries, we bounced back and forth on this in deciding who to trace. The final rule we came up with was “trace anyone on the cover” ; this isn’t strictly kosher, but it fit our priorities. The presumption with that rule is that the marketing people that decide whose name goes on the cover to help sell the book know what they’re doing.

    I’d prefer to be more in depth in tracing items, but the goal was to balance off the time involved per item while including the names most likely to be searched for, and to keep the rule simple enough to be followed by people completely unfamiliar with graphic novels.

    • Thanks Craig for your views on graphic novels. Our library is in the process of implementing a graphic novel ‘cheat sheet’ with guidelines on all aspects of cataloguing them. I will take your comments to the ‘table’. I guess what I’m looking for first and foremost is consistency. Since the marketing people are not consistent in the names they display on the cover and on the title page, this makes our job more challenging.

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