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Graphic Novels and Comics: ENG 240H: Graphic Novel

Critical articles by scholars and reviewers

Literary criticism and reviews: scholars, publishers, and critics writing about graphic narratives

OneSearch will search many places at once, including databases of scholarly journals, databases of newspapers and magazines, and our book catalog.

To get to OneSearch from the library home page, click on the OneSearch box:

OneSearch box on library home page, located next to "library tools"

(1) Enter some of your keywords in the search box--remember to try different combinations of keywords, and different synonyms and related terms, and see how your results change:

OneSearch search box


(2) Use the topic/subject filters on the right side to help you see relevant results.


Topic/subject list with arrow pointing to "show more"You may have to click on "show more" to see all your topic/subject choices.

Multiple topic and subject headings in filter list

There may be several similar subject headings - go ahead and click all that may be relevant, and then "apply filters".


















Filters for source type with peer-reviewed journals and books circledYou can also use the filters to see only certain types of sources - for instance books, or peer-reviewed (scholarly) journals. Remember that you may need to click on "see more" to see all your choices. 











Active filter list showing peer-reviewed journals and graphic novelsOnce you've clicked on some filters, you will see the ones you've selected on the top right corner of the screen. (Note that in this example "peer-reviewed journals" is the source type, while "graphic novels" is not a source type but instead the subject matter). 




Mouse hover over filter brings up lock icon to make the filter "stick"If you want to lock your filters in for other searches (otherwise they will disappear every time you do a new search and you'll need to re-click on them) (and remember you should be changing your keywords and experimenting with new ones), hover your mouse over the filter name until a little lock icon appears.

Click on the lock to make the filter stick. (You can always unlock it later if you want).

(3) Look at the results from your search. When you see something that you are interested in, you have several choices:

Click on the title to get info page; click on full text available to see article; click on quotation marks for citation; click on envelope to email link to yourself


Click on the green "full text available" link to see your article.

If you click on the title, the info page may show you helpful subject headings (you can click on the subject heading to see other articles tagged with this official heading; subject headings can also give you more vocabulary to describe what you're looking  for).

OneSearch details page with subject headings comic books--criticism and interpretation and comic strips--criticism and interpretation


Some other resources for criticism:

The journal South Central Review, an academic journal about literature, film, history, and other subjects dedicated an entire issue in 2015 to graphic narratives. 

The Comics Journal is perhaps most dominant popular journal in the comics industry, and publishes many reviews.

In the words of their editors, The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship is "an open access, open peer review academic journal dedicated to comics scholarship. The journal aims to make original contributions to the field of comics studies and to advance the appreciation of graphic narrative."


Recommended readings from Prof. Bollinger

Baetens, Jan. “From Black & White to Color and Back: What Does It Mean (Not) to Use Color?” College Literature, vol. 38, no. 3, 2011, pp. 111–128.,
Boatright, Michael D. “Graphic Journeys: Graphic Novels' Representations of Immigrant Experiences.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 53, no. 6, 2010, pp. 468–476. JSTOR, JSTOR,
Böger, Astrid. “Conquering Silence: David Small's ‘Stitches’ and the Art of Getting Better.” Amerikastudien / American Studies, vol. 56, no. 4, 2011, pp. 603–616. JSTOR, JSTOR,
CHUTE, HILLARY. “Comics Form and Narrating Lives.” Profession, 2011, pp. 107–117. JSTOR, JSTOR,
Dueben,Alex.  Interview with Mat Johnson.  “Comics and Storytelling: A Conversation with Mat Johnson.”  LA Review of Books
Gloeckner, Phoebe, et al. “Panel: Comics and Autobiography: May 19, 2012
Moderated by Deborah Nelson.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 40, no. 3, 2014, pp. 86–103. JSTOR, JSTOR,
Gross, Terry.  Interview with Alison Bechdel.  “Lesbian Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Countered Dad's Secrecy By Being Out And Open.”  Fresh Air (NPR) 
Larimer, Kevin.  “The Color and the Shape of Memory: An Interview With Chris Ware.”  Poets and Writers (2012)
Mechanic, Michael.  Interview with Craig Thompson.  “Graphic Novelist Craig Thompson on Parental Censorship, Leaving Christianity, and His Epic, “Habibi.’”  Mother Jones (Sept/Oct 2011)
Miller, Nancy K.  “The Trauma of Diagnosis: Picturing Cancer in Graphic Memoir.”
Powers, Thom.  “The Lynda Barry Interview.”  The Comics Journal
Williams, Ian. “Autography as Auto-Therapy: Psychic Pain and the Graphic Memoir.” Journal of Medical Humanities 32 (2011): 353–366.

Interviews with artists

See the Interviews with Artists tab of this guide for some selected interviews.

The Comics Journal has many excellent interviews - use their search box to look for the artist you're researching.

Because there are more interviews found on blogs and websites of comics publishers, fans, newspapers, and other websites that are freely accessible to the public (more than in the books/journals that Hostos buys/pays to subscribe to with your tuition), searching on the internet will most likely find you more interviews than searching on the library website (although we do subscribe to some of the same newspapers and magazines that you can find with Google).

Check out these tips and tricks for efficient Google searching! 


Books about drawing comics

If you want to read more about the kinds of visual choices cartoonists make as they write and draw their comics, you have several choices.

Best bet: the New York Public Library has quite a few books of this kind.

Remember that it's free to get a library card at any of NYC's three great public library systems. Once you have a library card, you can request that any book be sent to a library branch that is convenient to you (delivery takes a few days, sometimes a week).

Hostos Library has a few (not many) books of this kind. For example, How to Read Nancy is a detailed critique examining one cartoonist's choices, while Drawing Words and Writing Pictures is more of a handbook for people drawing their graphic narratives. 

Other CUNY libraries also have some more. Remember that you can always sign in with your ID barcode (once you have "activated" it at the library upstairs at the circulation desk) to ask that a book be sent to you at Hostos. Delivery takes a few days.

You can of course also find a lot of websites if you search Google using keyword combinations like

drawing comics visual choices


cartoonists compostion layout


how-to comics 


comics "negative space" mood

(remember - think about what topics specifically interest you, and try different combinations of keywords to see how your results change!).

The potential downside to relying on Google here is that there are so many results that it can take a lot of time to weed through to find something very good.