Comic Books and Graphic Novels


Beinecke has a large collection of comics from mainstream, indie, and underground publishers. The collection comprises many different formats, including serials in individual issues, collected editions, and graphic novels. A wide variety of genres are represented, including superhero stories, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, erotica, nonfiction, and adaptations from other media. Comics are cataloged according to RDA and CONSER, with exceptions described below.


Titles with 5 or more issues will be housed in folders and put into Hollinger boxes. Titles with fewer than 5 issues will be stored in Gaylords. If adding to a series housed in the “comic folders” with clear windows, rehouse in regular folders.

The following guidelines are used when marking volumes:

  1. Mark on verso of last page, lower right hand corner. The lower left hand corner is the alternate location when the lower right hand corner is unusable.
  2. If the last page is unmarkable (e.g., too dark or shiny or filled with text or illustrations), mark the verso of the first usable page from the end.

Classification and Call Numbers

Comics new to Beinecke will be given a year/number call number. Comics currently classed in Folio year/number call number will not be reclassed, but only one copy of each issue will be kept.

Types of Comics

008 Field

For Nature of Entire Work (serials records) or Contents 1 (monograph records), code as 6 [Comics/graphic novels].

Preferred Source of Information

Title, issue enumeration and chronology, and publisher for comic books are taken from the indicia, which is usually found either at the bottom of the first page, or the bottom of the verso of the front wrapper; in contemporary comics, it may also be found on one of the final pages. While not addressed in either RDA or CONSER, the indicia is similar to a masthead (see CONSER Trades and original graphic novels can have an indicia in addition to a title page.

Example of a comic book indicia with title, issue enumeration and chronology, and publisher information.

(Indicia from Sandman, no. 60, June 1994)

Keep in mind that series titles (especially those that are the name of a character) get reused over time, so always check to see if you need to include a uniform title. Trace the cover title if it differs from the indicia title.

For both serials and monographs, note when the title is from the indicia.

500     ‡a Title from indicia.

588     ‡a 1 (April 1993): title from indicia.

Identifying and Tracing Creators and Contributors

The terminology used to identify comics creators varies widely (often changing issue to issue in one series). Below is a list of the most common terms and what they mean.

Comic books, especially early comics, are inconsistent about crediting creators and contributors. Most will at least identify the writer and the artist (though many early comics don’t identify any creators at all). Letterers and colorists weren’t credited with any consistency until the mid to late ‘70s, and even contemporary comics don’t always include all the credits. It’s also possible to see a list of names without any roles given (e.g., “A Stan Lee/Gene Colan contemporary classic!”).

Examples of credits

Example comic book credits where the writer and penciler are not identified as such
(From Daredevil, no. 27, April 1967)

Writer: Stan Lee
Artists: Gene Colan (penciler) and Frank Giacoia (inker)
Letterer: Artie Simek
Colorist: unknown

Example comic book credits indentifying both a writer and plotter and both an artist and inker
(From Daredevil, no. 71, August 1971)

Writers: Gary Friedrich and Gerry Conway
Artists: Gene Colan (penciler) and Tom Palmer (inker)
Letterer: Jean Izzo
Colorist: unknown

Example comic book credits where the penciler and inker are identified as the designer and embellisher.
(From Daredevil, no. 99, May 1973)

Writer: Steve Gerber
Artists: Sam Kweskin (penciler) and Syd Shores (inker)
Letterer: Artie Simek
Colorist: Stan Goldberg

Example comic book credits identifying both a plotter and a scripter.
(From Daredevil, no. 141, January 1977)

Writers: Marv Wolfman and Jim Shooter
Artists: Gil Kane and Bob Brown (pencilers) ; and Jim Mooney (inker)
Letterer: Irv Watanabe
Colorist: Janice Cohen

Example comic book credits, which are presented in a lengthy, narrative form instead of the usual list.
(From Giant-size defenders, no. 3, January 1975)

Writers: Steve Gerber, Jim Starlin, and Len Wein
Artists: Jim Starlin (penciler) ; and Dan Adkins, Don Newton, and Jim Mooney (inkers)
Letterer: Charlotte Jetter
Colorist: Glynis Wein

When no roles are given, names were traditionally credited in the following order: writer, artist (penciler, inker), letterer, colorist, editor

Example comic book credits where no roles are identified.
(From X-Men, no. 105, June 1977)

Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Dave Cockrum (penciler) and Bob Layton (inker)
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Colorist: Andy Yanchus

Serials records don’t traditionally note contributors; however, users looking for comic books are increasingly interested in the writers and artists involved and want to find series by specific creators. For a one-shot or a title with a short run, try to note all writers and artists, if practical.

500     ‡a Written by Chris Claremont and Len Wein, drawn by Sal Buscema and Jack Abel, colored by Glynis Wein, and lettered by Joe Rosen.

500     ‡a Written by Clara Noto, Roy Thomas, and Wendy Pini (no. 6 only).
500     ‡a Drawn by Frank Thorne, John Buscema, and Sal Buscema (illustrators); and Joe Rubinstein, Al Milgrom, and Tony DeZuniga (inkers).
500     ‡a Colored by Frank Thorne, Barry Grossman, George Roussos, and Carl Gafford.
500     ‡a Lettered by Joe Rosen and Tom Orzechowski.

Otherwise, note writers and artists who contributed to a substantial part of the serial or who are relevant to other Beinecke collections.

500     ‡a Writers include: Cary Bates, Elliot Maggin, Denny O'Neil, Martin Pasko.
500     ‡a Artists include: Curt Swan, illustrator; Bob Oksner, illustrator; Murphy Anderson, illustrator; Tex Blaisdell, illustrator; Adrienne Roy, colorist; Jerry Serpe, colorist; Gene D'Angelo, colorist; Ben Oda, letterer; Milton Snappin, letterer; John J. Hill, letterer.

Trace all writers and artists mentioned in 500 notes. For original graphic novels and trades cataloged as monographs, trace everyone mentioned in the 245 (though cover artists are optional). Use the following relator terms:

If a writer or artist has multiple roles, use all relevant relator terms.

When bringing in copy that uses the relator term “illustrator,” please change to “artist.” In RDA, “artist” is a work-level relationship and “illustrator” is an expression-level relationship. Since comics are a visual medium, the art is an essential part of the work.

700     ‡a Noto, Clara, ‡e author

700     ‡a Buscema, John, ‡e artist

700     ‡a Grossman, Barry, ‡d 1948- ‡e colorist

700     ‡a Klein, Todd, ‡e letterer

700     ‡a Thorne, Frank, ‡e artist, ‡e colorist

A note on “creators” of characters: increasingly, contemporary comic books and graphic novels will include notes crediting the writer(s) and artist(s) who originally created characters (e.g., “Captain America created by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby”). You can include this information in a 500 note. However, in these instances, the named writers and artists were usually not directly involved in the creation of the comics being cataloged and should not receive 700 tracings.

590 Notes

Note if a comic is identified as being a second or subsequent printing.

590     ‡a BEIN 2020 358: Volumes 1 and 4 are second printings. From the Library of Samuel R. Delany.

If there is evidence that a comic book was issued with several variant covers, note which version(s) of the cover we hold, if known. If the cover variation is the result of the issue being a second or subsequent printing, combine the two notes.

590     ‡a BEIN 2020 S1234: Variant cover by Jeff Dekal: 39.
590     ‡a BEIN 2020 S1234: "Deceased" variant cover by Javi Fernandez and Mat Lopes: 40.

590     ‡a BEIN 2020 S4321: Second printing with variant cover: 5.

500 Notes

For trades cataloged as monographs, note which issues are included in the volume.

500     ‡a "Contains material originally published in magazine form as Captain America #1-6 and Free Comic Book Day 2018 (Avengers/Captain America) #1."

Note if the comic or graphic novel was created in conjunction with partners outside to comic book industry or for a special purpose.

500     ‡a Issues feature characters from the television show the Electric Company.

500     ‡a "Published in cooperation with the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse."
500     ‡a Includes guidance and resources for children to report or find treatment for sexual abuse.

Subject and Genre Tracings

All subject headings used should get the subdivision ‡v Comic books, strips, etc.

650   0 ‡a Indians of North America ‡v Comic books, strips, etc.

600 0 0 ‡a Jack, ‡c the Ripper ‡v Comic books, strips, etc.

Trace already established characters that appear in a significant portion of the series. If there exist headings for both the “superhero identity” (e.g., Batgirl (Fictitious character) and the “secret identity” (e.g., Gordon, Barbara (Fictitious character), trace both. If a character has multiple “superhero identities” with separate headings, trace only those used in the work being cataloged. When deciding whether to establish a new character, take into consideration whether they appear across multiple series or appear in other media (such as television or film). If you establish a new character, refer to LC’s documentation: H 1610: Fictitious Characters and H 1430: Comics and Comic Characters. LC considers superhero identities to be pseudonyms (see the SACO decision about Human Torch), so multiple records are only necessary if the character has a superhero identity that has also been used by other characters that are already established. Follow the LC/PCC FAQ for establishing persons with pseudonyms.

600 0 0 ‡a Wasp ‡c (Fictitious character) ‡v Comic books, strips, etc.
600 1 0 ‡a Van Dyne, Janet ‡c (Fictitious character) ‡v Comic books, strips, etc.

Use the following genre term for all ongoing series, limited series, and one-shots:

655   7 ‡a Comics (Graphic works) ‡2 lcgft

Use the following genre term for all trades and original graphic novels:

655   7 ‡a Graphic novels. ‡2 lcgft

Use the following genre term for all underground comics:

655   7 ‡a Underground comics. ‡2 lcgft

Use narrower terms of Comics (Graphic works) and Graphic novels as applicable.

710 Tracings

Trace all publishers connected with a title.

710 2   ‡a Image Comics, ‡e publisher


Tomb of Dracula (ongoing series):

Conan the barbarian (ongoing series):

Death, the high cost of living (limited series):

Death, the high cost of living (trade):

Watchmen (limited series):

Preacher special: Cassidy, blood & whiskey (one-shot):

Captain America vol. 1: Winter in America (trade):

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