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Our Top 5 Comics Highlights of ALA Midwinter

From those of us who attend ALA Midwinter in Seattle, here are our top five comics related highlights of the conference!

  1. Listening to the roar of approval when Raina Telgemeier’s Drama was announced as a Stonewall honor book!  I believe the title’s selection was a bit of a surprise to everyone, not in that the book wasn’t worthy, but more in simply that the crowd hadn’t anticipated it as a potential honor winner.  The ALA Youth Media Awards are always great fun to attend, as you’ll never be in a room full of people who care more tremendously about the awards, and however they quibble with the decisions, what they mean for the winning titles.  I was delighted to hear all the screams of delight and hoots of excitement when Drama was announced, and I think a lot of folks, like me, were particularly happy to see a title recognized that was aimed at younger teens. – from Robin
  2. I was immensely pleased to meet the Fantagraphics folks at the W. W. Norton booth, and see a major publisher and distributor actually give their graphic novels proper attention.  The books were attractively  and prominently displayed, and they had not one but at least two people there who knew the books, the people, and the audience.  They proudly displayed a new advance copy of Inio Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph, which I’m very excited to see coming up!  It was a refreshing change from how so many other publishers shove their graphic novels and comics in a small corner pile and never have anyone in the book who knows their comics lines. – from Robin & Mike
  3. I got to see the witty and insightful Carol Tilley present her Trends Impacting Young Adults paper presentation, Comics: A Once-Missed Opportunity, all about comics, libraries, and especially the influence of one on the other in the 1940s and 1950s. While today’s librarians may be advocates for the format, during the time of child psychologist Frederick Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent and Senate hearings on the dangers of comics creating juvenile delinquents, librarians were right in line with Wertham. Librarians kept comics off the shelves and outlined plans for conquering the comics problem.  Tilley introduced her research with an overview of comics history and then delved in to both the attitude of librarians at the time and the remarkable teens who stood up for their freedom to read.  For the last 20 minutes of the time allotted for the program, she invited the entire room filled to bursting with interested librarians to talk about how we can continue and improve our advocacy for and education about comics in the library world. That discussion was energetic and inspiring. – from Robin
  4. The official announcement of the iVerse Comics Plus for Libraries digital comics collections occurred at this Midwinter, but I never actually got to go to Brodart and really test it out, or investigate it too much.  I’m happy it’s an option, although I’ll have to investigate the pricing model in more depth.  However, I am keen to see how the beta test run goes, and will be interested to investigate a test version when I can. There was a solid write up on the service over at LJ’s Digital Shift. – from Robin
  5. I was thrilled to see A Game for Swallows win a Batchelder honor, as I was afraid it would go entirely overlooked. This is a fantastic story about a night in the life of two children and their neighbors as bombs fall on the Beirut neighborhood in which they live. I know that when people talk about committee work they remind everyone to “trust the process.” This is yet another case where the process worked. – from Eva

What did you discover at ALA Midwinter in kids and teens comics?

Robin Brenner About Robin Brenner

Robin Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. When not tackling programs and reading advice at work, she writes features and reviews for publications including VOYA, Early Word, Library Journal, and Knowledge Quest. She has served on various awards committees, from the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards to the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards. She is the editor-in-chief of the graphic novel review website No Flying No Tights.

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