Graphic novels are novel-length publications in a "comic book" format. Despite the word "novel", the term is used by the Library of Congress and the publishing industry to describe both fiction or nonfiction materials in this format.
When cataloging graphic novels, follow the normal rules in AACR2R, the LCRI, and the rest of the CCS cataloging manual for cataloging books. In general, treat them as heavily illustrated prose books.
One record vs. separate records
Follow the series vs. set guidelines for when to use a single multivolume record and when to use separate records for each volume.
American-origin graphic novels will often need separate records for each volume. Japanese-origin graphic novels will often need a single multivolume record.
When a single record is needed for a fiction graphic novel, generally use a multivolume record rather than a serial record, because fiction is presumed to eventually have an ending.
When separate records for each volume are needed, make sure the resulting records include the differences between volumes that make separate records necessary. This includes but is not limited to tracing different name headings, adding different subject headings, or adding volume-specific contents notes.
See the Omnibus format page for instructions on handling multiple volumes being published in a single binding (e.g. "v. 21-22-23").
Fixed field elements
a (in addition to any other appropriate codes
1, or the more-specific
j, etc., just as for prose fiction.
OCLC globally changed LitF:
| in late 2009; always change that to
1, or a more specific value.
- ISBN (020)
- Locally add ISBNs for all volumes to all multivolume or serial graphic novel records. Also add ISBNs for unpublished future volumes if you can easily discover them, in order to help prevent unnecessary monograph records for series cataloged on a multivolume or serial record.
- Main title (245 ‡a, ‡b, ‡n, ‡p)
- If the main title of a graphic novel is not clear from the title page or cover, look for a masthead or colophon. Do not assume that the presentation "Title A: Title B" in a masthead, a colophon, or on the title page verso always means "Title: Subtitle" or "Whole title. Part title"; for graphic novels, that presentation often means "Series title: Volume title". Do not assume that the largest title on the title page, cover, or spine is always the main title. Use the Series title vs. main title instructions to differentiate between series titles and main titles.
- "Stan Lee presents" is not intended to be part of the title of graphic novels published by Marvel.
- Statement of responsibility (245 ‡c)
- Writer, penciller, inker, etc. are each separate functions for the Rule of Three, so if a book has many writers and many artists, the record may look like:
|cwritten by John Smith ... [et al.] ; pencilled by Jane Smith ... [et al.] ; inked by John Doe ... [et al.].
- Generally omit editors and cover artists. Use judgement regarding whether letterers, colorists, and other creators have "bibliographic significance". Statements regarding a character's original creators usually have no bibliographic significance.
- Edition (250)
- The phrase "Direct edition" on graphic novels published by Marvel is not an edition statement; it just means the book was sold through comic book shops and book vendors. DC uses the phrase "Direct sales" to indicate the same thing. "Direct edition" should either be in a quoted note or should not be mentioned at all. Absence or presence of this phrase does not warrant creating a new record in either CCS or WorldCat.
- Pagination (300 ‡a)
- When the pages are unnumbered or have several unnumbered sequences, it can be useful to ignore LCRI 2.5B7 in favor of following AACR2R 2.5B7 and count pages if there are fewer than 100 pages and estimate the number of pages if there are more than 100 pages. (In RDA, follow 220.127.116.11.a or b as written rather than 18.104.22.168.c & the LC-PCC PS for 22.214.171.124.) For collections of material originally published as comic books, note that a standard-length comic book has approximately 22 pages of story, so a collection of 6 comic books will have circa 132 p.
- Illustrations (300 ‡b)
- All or almost all graphic novels should have
chiefly col. ill., or
chiefly ill. (some col.).
- Publication history note (500)
- State where the material in a collection was originally published
500 "Originally published in magazine form as Ultimate Spider-man #123-128"--P.  of cover.
- Audience note (521)
- Include an Audience note when this information appears on the item.
- Physical description note (500}
- When a graphic novel translated from Japanese retains its original right-to-left presentation format, include a note to that effect.
500 In keeping with the original Japanese format, this book reads right-to-left, and back-to-front.
Subject and genre headings
LCSH form subdivisions
The Library of Congress has decided that "|vComic books, strips, etc." and either "|vFiction" or "|vJuvenile fiction" cannot be applied to the same heading or the same record, because both are types of literature at the same level. (This is the same reason that "|vFiction" is not used with "|vDrama" and "|vPoetry".) The British National Library and some other OCLC member libraries disagree, so you will find some records in OCLC that include both subfields in a single heading. CCS cataloging policy is to follow the Library of Congress, so always change those headings locally as you find them.
650 _0 Dogs|vComic books, strips, etc.
650 _0 Dogs|vComic books, strips, etc.|vFiction. 650 _0 Dogs|vFiction|vComic books, strips, etc. 650 _0 Dogs|vComic books, strips, etc.|vJuvenile fiction. 650 _0 Dogs|vJuvenile fiction|vComic books, strips, etc.
Children's Annotated Card program form subdivisions
Library of Congress Annotated Card program headings (tagged
650 _1) do not work the same as Library of Congress Subject Headings.
- Do not use "|vComic books, strips, etc."
- For fiction graphic novels, use "|vFiction."
- For nonfiction graphic novels, use "|vCartoons and comics."
Examples combining LCSH and LCAC on the same record:
650 _0 Dogs|vComic books, strips, etc. 650 _1 Dogs|vFiction.
650 _0 Dogs|vComic books, strips, etc. 650 _1 Dogs|vCartoons and comics.
Form/genre headings (655)
"Graphic novels" applies to all novels or novellas in this format, regardless of whether they were originally published as that book or as several comic books. As previously stated, it is used for both fiction and nonfiction material.
"Comic books, strips, etc." applies to anthologies/collections in which there is no primary story, and collections of anecdotal comic strips (like Garfield). Use "Graphic novels" for collections of a primary story with several short unrelated stories.
Generally do not use both "Graphic novels" and "Comic books, strips, etc." as genre/form headings on the same record, because they have a broader/narrower relationship. Likewise, do not use both "Comic books, strips, etc." and headings like "Fantasy comic books, strips, etc." (This does not apply to the subdivision "|vComic books, strips, etc.", just the form heading.) You can use "Graphic novels" and any headings like "Fantasy comic books, strips, etc." together, because they do not have a broader/narrower relationship.
655 _0 Fantasy comic books, strips, etc. 655 _0 Graphic novels.
655 _0 Fantasy comic books, strips, etc. 655 _0 Science fiction comic books, strips, etc. 655 _0 Graphic novels.
650 _0 Dogs|vComic books, strips, etc. 655 _0 Graphic novels.
655 _0 Fantasy comic books, strips, etc. 655 _0 Comic books, strips, etc.
655 _0 Comic books, strips, etc. 655 _0 Graphic novels.
Don't add "[Genre] fiction" to a record when there is an applicable "[Genre] comic books, strips, etc." heading
Cartoons and comics
LCAC uses the form heading "Cartoons and comics" instead of either "Comic books, strips, etc." or "Graphic novels". For children's material, you can use this heading in addition to any LCSH genre/form headings. For example, you might use both of these in one record:
655 _0 Graphic novels. 655 _1 Cartoons and comics.
The term "manga" originally meant Japanese material published in the comic-book format, but it has since been used for Japanese "manga" books, American "original English language manga" books, American "Cine-manga" books for American cartoons, Chinese "manhua" books, and Korean "manwha" books. As a result, there is no clear definition of "manga"; even industry experts' opinions vary widely on exactly what could/should be called "manga".
In part because the definition cannot be pinned down and in part because the Japanese themselves use the term as a synonym for "comics", LC has not authorized "Manga" as a subject or form/genre heading; instead it is a SEE reference to "Comic books, strips, etc.", so that heading or "Graphic novels" should be used instead. You may opt to locally use
655 _7 Manga.|2local, but do not add that heading to WorldCat master records.
Marvel always hyphenates the name "Spider-man". This is automatically indexed in the CCS catalog as both "Spider-man" and "Spider man", but not as "Spiderman". Therefore, when the main title includes "Spider-man", you may opt to add a 246 field with "Spiderman."
For collections of comic strips, generally add a uniform title (240) for the original serial title, with the subdivision
100 1_ Davis, Jim,|d1945 July 28- 240 10 Garfield.|kSelections 245 10 Garfield takes up space
For collections of comic books, generally add a related title (730) for the original serial title and make sure the serial title is mentioned in a note, unless the related title entry would be exactly the same (including any qualifiers) as a series title (830) on that record. If there is no established uniform title for the serial, use the main title of the original serial's record in WorldCat.
For collections of material from several comic book serials, add a related title for each one. When the collection contains an entire range or a single issue from a particular serial, add the issue number(s) in |n; for noncontiguous issues, instead add
245 04 The resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul /|cPaul Dini ... [et al.], writers ; David Lopez ... [et al.], pencillers ; Alvaro Lopez ... [et al.], inkers ; Phil Balsman .... [et al.], letterers ; Trish Mulvihill ... [et al.], colorists. 500 Originally published in single magazine form in Batman annual 26, Robin annual 7, Batman 670-671, Robin 168-169, Nightwing 138-139, and Detective comics 838-839. 730 0 Batman annual.|n26. 730 0 Robin annual.|n7. 730 0 Batman (New York, N.Y.).|n670-671. 730 0 Robin.|n168-169. 730 0 Nightwing.|n138-139. 730 0 Detective comics.|n838-839.
When in doubt whether a title should be recorded as a main title, a related title or a series title, locally prefer to treat it as a series title, as the series title displays on the hit list in iBistro.
Be sure to check both the CCS authority file and OCLC's authority file, as many series for graphic novels are currently only established in the CCS authority file.
Popular series that exist in both print and graphic novel (and audiobook, and video, etc.) formats may need separate series uniform titles for each format. If a series doesn't already have separate uniform titles for each format and there are many records involved, consider requesting that the Authorities Librarian create a new series uniform title.
- The Grand Comics Database can help answer questions regarding material originally published as comic books. (Especially ABDO/Spotlight's graphic novels, which are reprints but rarely mention the original issues.)
- Anime News Network Manga Encyclopedia
- Manga Comparison Chart