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Mason Adams on Comics and Libraries In and Around Roanoke, Virginia
posted August 29, 2006

I wanted to write briefly this morning about the spiel I gave for the Roanoke Valley Bookfest, which took place this last weekend. The Roanoke City/County libraries put this on each year. Two years ago, they had Vickie Holt (who did some writing on a couple of Elfquest spin-offs) and me do a spiel on comics, and it was the most heavily attended session of the festival. This year, they approached me about doing something again. I'm not entirely sure why, as I'm not a published author like most of the other speakers are. My only qualifications are that I write for the Roanoke Times (mainly doing beat work, though I've occasionally written comics-related reviews and features, like a profile on Slowpoke-cartoonist Jen Sorensen) and that I read comics.

For the spiel I went around to three different library branches and checked out a ton of graphic novels and collections. I talked a little about the history of comics, basically using the Roanoke Times' Sunday section to talk about how comic strips played into the newspaper wars of the 20th century, and how publishers figured out they could make money by publishing comics without the news included. I went on to pretty much hit most of the major superheroes, collections of comic strips, manga, "literature" comics and a host of oddball stuff (like the Richard Geary true-crime stuff, adaptations of classic novels, etc). I used the actual books to provide visuals for all this, and I handed out a list of everything I had on the table.

I'd say the audience was about evenly split between manga and superhero fans, with both kids and adults attending. It definitely wasn't the crowd we had 2 years ago, but it wasn't bad.

Most interesting to me was the wide-ranging list of stuff I found in the three libraries I scoped out. Below is the list I handed out, which also included phone numbers for a couple of comic shops, a used bookstore which has tons of GNs and manga, and a suggestion to "Ask your librarian about anime clubs." There was definitely not this sort of variety here when I moved to Roanoke three years ago.

Here's the list:

Superman: Birthright (modern version of Superman)
Showcase Presents: Superman (crazy 50s and 60s stories)
Mary Jane: Circle of Friends (Spiderman's girlfriend, written in a manga style)
Watchmen (inspired parts of the Incredibles)
The Essential Uncanny X-Men (60s version)
Daredevil Visionaries : Frank Miller. Volume 3
Batman. Volume One, Hush
Astonishing X-Men. Vol. 2, Dangerous
Essential Fantastic Four. Vol. 1
Ultimate Spider-Man.

Shaman King
One Piece
Shaolin Sisters
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Kare Kano
Fruits Basket
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duelist
William Shakespeare's Macbeth: The Graphic Novel
Initial D
Queen Bee (American manga)

Comic strips:
Something Under the Bed is Drooling: a Calvin and Hobbes Collection
Outrageously Pogo
The Complete Peanuts : 1953 to 1954

The Sandman: Endless Nights
Elfquest. Volume One: The Grand Quest
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

The Murder of Abraham Lincoln
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Road to Perdition

Ice Haven
The Contract with God Trilogy : Life on Dropsie Avenue
Blankets: An Illustrated Novel
Stephen Crane's the Red Badge of Courage: The Graphic Novel

Other genres:
Spy: Armageddon & Son -- by local artist David Dumeer
Barbarian: The Chronicles of Conan
Horror/adventure: Hellboy
Adventure: Walt Disney's Donald Duck and the Magic Hour-Glass
Academic book about comics: Comics & Sequential Art
Ninjas/HomelessGirl/Adventure: Street Angel.
Robot animals: We3
Dinosaur comics: Age of Reptiles. Tribal Warfare
History: Maus I: A Survivor's Tale.
History: Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography