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The Monster Librarian Presents:

Articles on Horror Genre Collection Development and Reader's Advisory for Librarians.

The Stand: A Case for Horror Graphic Novels for Adults in the Library

by Kirsten Kowalewski

April 6,2009

    When it comes to graphic novels in the library, the focus is generally on using them to encourage literacy in teens, especially reluctant readers. It’s a great strategy and justification for building a graphic novel collection in a school library media center, but the “graphic novels are for teens” mindset seems to have crossed over into public library settings as well, which is too bad, because there are plenty of adults who read them too. There are excellent graphic novels written in a variety of genres, including the horror genre, and many of them are written for adult audiences. Adult readers of graphic novels aren’t necessarily “reluctant” to read novels any more than readers of novels are reluctant to read graphic novels. Some people read and enjoy both. Readers who have mainly read only one format, may just be comfortable with what they’re already reading. Without a nudge, these readers might not consider trying a different approach.
Right now there is a perfect opportunity for libraries to draw out and even add to the adult audience for graphic novels. Marvel Comics has released its hardcover edition of the graphic novel adaptation of Stephen King’s book The Stand ONLY to the direct market. That means it is not available from library wholesalers, bookstores, or even It either has to be purchased through a comics distributor or from the local comic book store. The result is that very few libraries will have it and some don’t even know about it- a friend of mine who is a library director hadn’t even heard of the book, although the direct-market release only is somewhat unusual. I wouldn’t have known about it at all if I hadn’t read it in Publisher’s Weekly (you can read the announcement at: I don’t know how comic book shops are publicizing this, but I haven’t heard a peep from any in my area. In fact, I was surprised that even at, The Stand wasn’t getting much publicity. It seems like this is a book with the potential to increase the customer base for graphic novels and for books, but nobody seems to be taking advantage of it, or, if they are, they’re hiding their efforts pretty well.
Libraries and comic book stores close to each other could change this and partner to draw in larger audiences for both venues using The Stand. Libraries can showcase Stephen King’s novels, or apocalyptic horror fiction, or horror novels that inspired graphic novels. Comic book stores have a chance to let Stephen King fans know about the book’s existence, introduce those who don’t know about them to the Dark Tower graphic novels, and use the opportunity to get people who perhaps haven’t read a graphic novel before interested in the format for further reading opportunities. The comic book store owner could even partner with the library to provide a program on graphic novels for adult audiences!
    I am not an authority on graphic novels or the business of selling comic books, but as a librarian I do see an opportunity for cross-promotion that could benefit the apparently unnoticed audience of adult readers of graphic novels as well as fiction readers who aren’t aware of or haven’t been introduced to the graphic novel format. My dad is an excellent example of the second. He is a prolific reader who read comic books as a kid, and likes Stephen King, but refuses to read anything over 500 pages. A graphic novel format is a way for him to experience The Stand, a book he would enjoy but otherwise will never read. He wasn’t aware of this graphic novel, so I’ll have to see how it works out for him, but in my opinion it’s an experiment worth trying, and


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