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Media, Popular Culture, and Communication Rights Research Guide: Comics & Graphic Novels

Research strategies and resources on media, popular culture, journalism, copyright, digital society, and related topics.

Graphic Novels, Comic Books and Comic Strips

What's Here

Graphic novels are not only popular reading, they're also increasingly the subject of scholarly research. But it can be difficult to find the research itself.  This page should help a little.

On this Page:

Key Databases for Articles on Graphic Novels

Graphic novels are increasingly the subject of scholarly research, but there's still not a lot out there. Check out bibliographies too, such as the ones in the next section.

ARTbibliographies Modern

Although ARTbibliographies Modern is mainly for art and architecture, it does cover some scholarly literature on graphic novels, comic books, etc. It uses the subject heading "Comic strips."

Art Source

Formed from the merger of databases from EBSCO and H.W. Wilson with the addition of unique sources not previously available. Includes: 

Art Index Retrospective (1929-1982), Art Index,  Art Abstracts, Art Full Text, Art and Architecture Complete

Although Art Full Text is mainly for art and architecture, it does cover some scholarly literature on graphic novels, comic books, etc. It uses the subject headings "Graphic novels," "Comic books, strips, etc.," and "Caricatures and cartoons."

MLA Bibliography

The MLA database is primarily oriented toward literature, but has some coverage of comics and graphic novels. You can use the subjects "Graphic novel," "Comic book," "Comic strip" (note the use of the singular in all of those) and "Cartoons."

Selected Subject Headings for Searching Orbis



Bibliographies are a great way to speed up research, since they comprehensively list the books and articles published on a subject up to a certain time -- and often include titles you won't find through any database.

Comic art in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America: a comprehensive, international bibliography. John A. Lent. Forewords by Effat Abdel Azim, Esmail, Abu Abraham, and Ares (Aristides Esteban Hernández Guerraro). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996.

Art/Architecture Reference, Z5956 C3 L458X 1996

Comic art of Europe: an international, comprehensive bibliography. John A. Lent. Foreword by David Kunzle. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.

ART/ARCHITECTURE Reference, Z5956 C3 L46X 1994

SML Stacks,Z5956 C3 L46X 1994 (LC)

Comic Book Reference Bibliographic Datafile

The site is dedicated to reference literature on comic books.

Comic books and comic strips in the United States through 2005: an international bibliography. John A. Lent. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006

SML Reference, Z5956.C6 L47X 2006

Comics research bibliography. Michael Rhode and John Bullough.

An international bibliography of comic books, comic strips, animation, caricature, cartoons, bandes dessinees, and related topics. One can search the entire bibliography or browse by the articles' subject or author. There are also numerous links to other comic book/graphic novel Web sites. Last updated in 2009. features the Comics Scholarship Annotated Bibliographies, which cover book-length works about comic books and comic strips, from "fannish" histories to academic monographs. The goal for each entry is to include the book's Table of Contents as well as (if applicable) a list of comics works reprinted in it (and their sources, sometimes undocumented), other general notes on content and organization, ISBN numbers, and reviews. Last updated in 2010.

Graphic novels: a bibliographic guide to book-length comics. D. Aviva Rothschild. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1995.

SML Stacks, Z5956 C6 R68X 1995 (LC)

Online Bibliography of Anime and Manga Research

Last updated in 2010, but a re-launch is planned for 2012.


Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Encylopedias and dictionaries are another great information source, and sometimes they contain bibliographies as well as information.

Comic book artists. Edited by Alex G. Malloy with Brian Kelly and Kevin Ohlandt. [Ridgefield, Conn.]: Attic Books, Ltd.; Radnor, Pa.: Wallace-Homestead, 1993.

SML, Reference PN6714 C635X 1993

Comic book encyclopedia. the ultimate guide to characters, graphic novels, writers, and artists in the comic book universe. Ron Goulart. New York : HarperEntertainment, 2004.

SML Stacks, PN6707 .G68X 2004+ Oversize

Crawford's Encyclopedia of comic books. Hubert H. Crawford. Middle Village, N.Y.: Jonathan David Publishers, 1978.

Bass, Reference, Upper PN6725 +C7

Dictionary of British comic artists, writers and editors. Alan Clark. London: British Library, 1998.

SML Stacks, PN6707 .E49X 2010

Encyclopedia of comic books and graphic novels. M. Keith Booker, editor. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood, c2010.

SML, Reference PN6707 C53 1998

Lambiek Comiclopedia

An illustrated compendium of over 11,000 comic artists from around the world.


An online encyclopedia of toons -- i.e., "cartoons," encompassing animated cartoons, comic books, newspaper strips, magazine cartoons, and so forth.

U-X-L graphic novelists. Tom Pendergast and Sara Pendergast. Detroit : U-X-L/Thomson Gale, c2007.

SML Stacks, NC1305 .P46X 2007 (LC)

Comics Databases, Guides, Commentaries, and News

Comic book: confidential. CD-ROM. Ron Mann. New York: Voyager, 1996.

SML Stacks, PN6725 M35 1996

Claims to be "the only comprehensive documentary of comics and their creators ever made." Contains historical footage (including congressional hearings from the 1950s linking comic books to juvenile delinquency), interviews, animations, and more. Featured artists include Lynda Barry, Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, William Gaines, Bill Griffith, Jaime Hernandez, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, Stan Lee, Frank Miller, Harvey Pekar, and Art Spiegelman.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

The CBLDF is dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for creators and retailers in the comics community.

Comic Book Resources

Includes news, editorial columns, message boards, and a links database.

Comic Vine

Includes news, blogs, reviews, forums, a database on comic books, characters and movies, and other resources.

The Comics Reporter

Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Comix Scholars' Discussion List

An academic discussion list for those involved in research, criticism and teaching related to comics art. The Web site includes syllabi, bibliographies, a directory of scholars, conference information, museum information, and more.

Graphic novels: a genre guide to comic books, manga, and more. Michael Pawuk. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2007

SML Reference, Z5956.C6 P38X 2007 (LC)

Grand Comic Book Database

Searchable by title, author, artist, publisher, and other terms. Includes information on creator credits, story details, and other information useful to the comic book reader and fan. The "Advanced" search is especially detailed.

Sequential Tart

"A Web zine about the comics industry, published by an eclectic band of women."

Understanding comics: the invisible art. Scott McCloud. New York, N.Y.: A Kitchen Sink Book for HarperPerennial, 1994.

Bass, Stacks PN6710 M335X 1994

Collections and Catalogs

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Ohio State University.

The Cartoon Library and Museum is the largest and most comprehensive academic research facility documenting printed cartoon art in the United States. The website includes a database of cartoon images. The library does not collect materials about animation. OSU also has a blog and resource page on manga.

The British comic catalogue, 1874-1974. Denis Gifford. London: Mansell Information Publishing, 1975.

ART/ARCHITECTURE, Reference Z5956 C6 +G54 1975

Comic Art Collection. Michigan State University.

The collection holds over 200,000 items, mostly comic books, but also nearly 1,000 books of collected newspaper comic strips, and several thousand books and periodicals about comics.

Comic Art Museum

Located downtown in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena cultural district, the museum is home to over 6,000 pieces of original and cartoon and animation art, a comprehensive research library, and five galleries of exhibition space

Comics Research Libraries

A listing of libraries with a special collecting interest in the area of comics or cartoons. Last updated in 2009.

Institute for Comics Studies

The Institute undertakes its mission to promote the study, understanding, recognition, and cultural legitimacy of comics through communication within the scholarly, professional, and fan communities, and with the general public

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

MoCCA's mission is "the collection, preservation, study, education, and display of comic and cartoon art. Every genre of the art is represented: animation, anime, cartoons, comic books, comic strips, gag cartoons, humorous illustration, illustration, political illustration, editorial cartoons, caricature, graphic novels, sports cartoons, and computer-generated art."

Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. Library of Congress.

Links to online exhibitions of caricature and cartoon from the Library of Congress, Library of Congress resources for caricature and cartoon, other repositories, and information about the Swann Fellowship.

Selected Publishers and Distributors

Alternative Comics

Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

Diamond Comic Distributor

Drawn and Quarterly Publishing

Fantagraphics Books

Image Comics

Marvel Comics

Oni Press

Top Shelf Productions

Viz Communications

Librarian for Literature in English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics

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Todd Gilman
Sterling Memorial Library

130 Wall Street

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