Published on March 23rd, 2015 | by Carli Spina

Integrating Comics Into Your Exhibits and Collections

In many libraries, graphic novels are isolated from the rest of the collection. While shelving comics and graphic novels separately can make it easier for fans to find the books that they want, this doesn’t mean that these books can’t be integrated into topics exhibits, lists, and collections. By sharing graphic novels and other books together in this way, you can bring them to readers who may not have considered reading them in the past and at the same time help graphic novel fans to find readalikes for their favorite books. So, next time you are creating such an exhibit, list, or collection, consider including both graphic novels and other types of books. Below are some great graphic novels that will fit easily with existing exhibits, lists, and collections.




Relish by Lucy Knisley – Part cookbook and part memoir, this graphic novel describes Knisley’s relationship with food throughout her life and the important role that it played for her at key points. Each chapter includes a pictorial recipe that will inspire anyone to start cooking.


The Art of Pho by Julian Hanshaw – At the start of this unique book Little Blue is left by a post and told to count to 500. This launches him on an adventure through Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and, more importantly, through the world of Pho, a traditional Vietnamese dish. Containing compelling artwork, stunning pictures of food, and several recipes, this book is a complicated graphic novel, but one that will appeal to a broad audience.


In the Kitchen with Alain Passard: Inside the World (and Mind) of a Master Chef by Christophe Blain – Based on three years that Blain spent with the renowned chef Alain Passard, this book offers a portrait of the chef and insights into the world of fine dining. It also includes a number of recipes for those who want to try their hand at cooking Passard’s recipes.


History & Historical Fiction


Maus by Art Spiegelman – One of the most famous and iconic graphic novels of all time, Maus is set in Europe during the Holocaust and follows Spiegelman’s father during this time. Famously, each group of people is represented by a different animal, with Jewish people portrayed as mice and Germans as cats. Spiegelman focuses on the Holocaust, but also offers brief insights into his own life and his father’s later life. It is an important and at times difficult book that can stand next to any other book about the Holocaust.


Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot with art by Kate Charlesworth – In her second graphic novel, scholar and author Mary M. Talbot tells the story of a housemaid who is caught up in the suffragette movement in England during the early 1900’s. Featuring real historical figures and events that are inspired by the real trials faced by suffragettes of the time, this is a great look into an important historical movement.


Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang – Set in China before and during the Boxer Rebellion, these two volumes offer two points of view on a time in Chinese history that many readers may not know much about, but which was extremely important to China’s development. Though each book is a great read individually, read together they will change not only the way you see the Boxer Rebellion, but also the way you feel about the characters.




Feynman by Jim Ottaviani with art by Leland Myrick – Richard Feynman was many things, a scientist, a Nobel prize winner, a prankster, and much more. In this biography, Ottaviani and Myrick bring him to life, capturing his vitality and his important place in both history and in the field of physics.


Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown – Perfect for fans of both wrestling and The Princess Bride, this biography introduces readers to Andre the Giant, a sweet, fun-loving, and complicated individual. Through vignettes from throughout his life, Brown captures the essence of his subject and pulls the reader into Andre’s world.


The Boxer: The True Story of Holocaust Survivor Harry Haft by Reinhard Keist – Forced to fight to entertain the guards during his time in Auschwitz, Harry Haft demonstrated his will to live and developed fighting skills that he later used as a boxer after he emigrated to the United States. Keist brings Haft’s dramatic and difficult life to readers who likely are unfamiliar with his story and will leave them wanting to know more about Haft and the time period he inhabited.




Tomboy by Liz Prince – In her first graphic novel, Prince describes her childhood growing up as a girl who rejects everything girly in favor of pursuing her own path and style. From her days as a child who rejected dresses at all costs to her teenage years when she discovers zines and punk music, Prince’s story is one that many readers will understand.


Carnet De Voyage by Craig Thompson – This travelogue details Thompson’s three month travels across Morocco, Spain, and France. The book contains sketches that Thompson created during his travels and his thoughts and impressions along the way. A great read for those who love to travel and a perfect addition to both memoir and travel lists and exhibits.


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – This two volume memoir tells the story of Satrapi’s childhood in Iran and her high school years in Vienna. The books are simultaneously a coming of age story and a window into life in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.


Current Events


Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle – Delisle spent time living in Pyongyang, North Korea overseeing animators and during this time he got a unique view into this closed society that can seem difficult to understand for those on the outside. Rather than focusing on the government or politics of this nation, Delisle captures his daily interactions and uses these events as an entry point for his discussion of his trip and larger issues, which creates an intimate portrait of North Korea.
Palestine by Joe Sacco – This work of graphic journalism is the result of Sacco’s travels and interviews in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In recognition of this work, the book won an American Book Award in 1996 and has become a classic graphic novel and a classic of the graphic journalism subgenre.

About the Author

Carli Spina is an emerging technologies and research librarian at an academic library. She is a big fan of graphic novels, young adult and children's literature, and popular culture and writes about these topics for several blogs including the Horn Book's Lolly's Classroom blog and YALSA's The Hub blog. You can find her on Twitter as @CarliSpina or on her website at

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