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Graphic Novels & Comics

A guide to finding and researching graphic novels and comics in the UMD Libraries.

Comics Research Libraries and Collections

Bowling Green State University - Popular Culture Library

The comic book collection, 50,000+ strong and still growing, is divided into two collections - the general and the Bravard. Each collection includes commercially produced comics, magazine-style comics and independent/underground comics. The time period ranges from the 1930's to the present. All title and issues can be found in the library catalog, and there is a link under special collections for their personalized libguide and a list of 10,000 records under the subject heading.


Brown University - John Hay Library

The collection was amassed by the donor, Michael J. Ciaraldi, beginning in the early 1970s, and came to the Library beginning in 1996. The majority of the collection consists of comic books published since that time, up to 1995; there are also significant sections of magazine-format comics, graphic novels, fan and collector's journals, reissues of classic "golden age" comics and newspaper strips, translations of Japanese "manga" and "anime" comics and European comic art, and compilations of the work of comic artists, as well as advertising ephemera, role-playing game materials, and adult erotica. The Collection is particularly noteworthy for its holdings of comics by the small and independent publishers of the 1970s and 1980s. Imprints are very largely American, with some British satirical graphic magazines. The total number of items in the Collection is estimated at 60,000.


The Belgian Center for Comic Strip Art

The Belgian Comic Strip Center has a study library housing what is probably the biggest collection of comic strips in the world. The study library allows visitors access to all the collections of albums, magazines and reference works conserved at BCSC. The reading room contains a selection of over 3,000 albums; you will also find albums translated into over 36 languages. The study library collection can be viewed in the online catalog.


Iowa State University Library

This collection consists of comic books authored as parodies of mainstream society and/or reflecting less acceptable behavior as would be depicted in more conventional publications. Underground comics (or "comix", a common spelling) are defined as comic books with adult themes discussing controversial topics and often mocking conventional society. Topics include feminism, marijuana legalization, Black Power, anti-abortion and anti-war themes, and gay and lesbian issues. The movement grew considerably with the political and cultural ferment of the 1960s and '70s and established a dedicated following. One of the most influential author/illustrators was R. (Robert) Crumb. The collection also contains several files of correspondence between Special Collections Department staff and comic book artists and dealers. The comics have been cataloged and can be found by searching the Library catalog.


Library of Congress Comic Book Collection

The largest collection of comics books in the United States is housed in the Serial and Government Publications Division. The collection includes U.S. and foreign comic books—over 5,000 titles in all, totaling more than 100,000 issues. Primarily composed of the original print books, the collection includes color microfiche of a handful of the early comic books (such as Wonder Woman, Superman, and Action Comics) and special reprints. Although the collection is most comprehensive from 1950, scattered issues from numerous titles date back to the 1930s. A small number of comic books make up the Underground Comic Book collection. Comic books are circulated for use in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Room for those doing research of a specific nature. Self-service photocopying of comic books is prohibited. In some cases photocopies may be obtained through the Photoduplication Service of the Library of Congress.


Michigan State University Library - Comic Art Collection

The Comic Art Collection holds over 200,000 items. Most of these items are comic books, but also included are over 1,000 books of collected newspaper comic strips, and several thousand books and periodicals about comics. The most important categories of material in the Comic Art Collection, based on current completeness and emphasis, are the U.S. comic books, the international comics collection, the newspaper strip books, and the historical and critical materials. The site includes a list of genres and titles within unique subgenres such as advertising comic books, funny military comic books, prehistoric adventure comic books, and many more. This site also includes information on their European Comic Book and Latin American Comic Art collections.


Ohio State University Libraries - Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum's collection includes editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and magazine cartoons. Current holdings include more than 300,000 original cartoons, 45,000 books, 67,000 serials (including comic books), 3,000 linear feet of manuscript materials, and 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages. Finding aids for some of the collections, including the Cartoon Subject and Topic Files and Photograph Database, are located under Collections. Images of some of the collection are available for viewing at the Cartoon Image Database. Educational resources relating to the history of printed cartoons and digital albums of the library's treasures are accessible on the website.


Syracuse University - George Arents Research Library

The Special Collections Research Center is home to over 200 manuscript collections consisting primarily of original artwork used for daily comic strips and editorial cartoons. The editorial cartoon collections feature the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonists and artwork from newspapers across the United States. These collections enable the investigation of particular themes and eras such as the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement. The SCRC's holdings are especially strong in works from the 1950s and the 1960s; however, examples of late-nineteenth-century cartoons and early comic strips are also available for research. The site is organized by creator, and each entry contains information such as biographical history, scope and content of the particular subset of the collection, related material, and subject headings.


University of Kent at Canterbury - The British Cartoon Archive

The British Cartoon Archive, at the University of Kent at Canterbury, exists to encourage and facilitate the study of cartoons and caricatures published in the United Kingdom. When viewing a cartoon, a description is provided, adding insight into what was happening at the time the cartoon was produced. The search function enables users to find much more than a specific cartoon.  Users can find out what was happening on a specific day in history by seeing all the cartoons produced for major newspapers on that day, how well known politicians and important personalities were perceived, how major events were presented and criticized, and when topics or events were of concern. The BCA can supply high-resolution images for personal or educational use for a fee, depending on the copyright status. Educators can create groups of cartoons for teaching purposes, and then publish them on the web for students to use.


Virginia Commonwealth University

The VCU Libraries’ Comic Arts Collection began in the 1970s with the donation of a modest comic book collection and the papers of a noted Richmond newspaper editorial cartoonist. The collection then grew with the help of numerous donors over the years – especially that of Dr. M. Thomas Inge, an expert on the history of popular culture and the comic arts. Today, the collection includes more than 42,000 comic books dating primarily from the 1960s through today, including the papers and drawings of political cartoonist Fred O. Seibel and Charles Henry "Bill" Sykes, and Billy De Beck's personal library and the door to his studio apartment, featuring an original painting of his famous characters Barney Google and Sparkplug. VCU Libraries has been the repository for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Archives since 2005.


University of Wyoming - American Heritage Center

The Comic Book Industry collections at the University of Wyoming are unique in documenting the editors and writers of this industry increasingly recognized by scholars as having a significant impact on the nation’s popular culture. Collections include papers from classic comic book writers, editors, and creators. Each collection includes a biography, the scope of the collection, genres, access terms, and in the case of the Stan Lee collection, a detailed list of the subject files and specific holdings.

Comics Reference and Reviews

Underground and Independent Comics