Today’s spotlight is on Darcy! You can find her on twitter at @slightlyfoxed.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m a [ahem] fortysomething public librarian in Houston, TX.
How did you get into comics?
When I was a tween/teenager, I used to sneak my older brother’s Marvel comic books. I used to have to promise that I wouldn’t open them too wide, as that would “ruin their value.” And, yes, I bawled my eyes out when Pheonix died (the first time).
It wasn’t until college that I “came out” as a comic book reader. My boyfriend at the time introduced me to the very odd and adorable Tales of the Beanworld by Larry Marder. Because new issues of this title came out very erratically, I learned how to stalk my local comic book store and find other books to fill my need. Later, I read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, which pushed all my buttons as an English major, and I’ve been reading ever since.
Do you just read comics, or do you express your love in other ways?
I try to be an advocate for comic books in libraries. Most people don’t know we have them! I write a newsletter about comics worth reading for a library service called Next Reads (see if your local library subscribes!). This past weekend, I participated on a panel at a local con, Comicpalooza, where we discussed how libraries fit within the comic book industry and how we can help readers, students, parents, teachers, and creators.
I also indulge in odd amigurumi, sometimes inspired by comics (for example, Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley’s Evelyn Evelyn).
What are some comics you’re currently reading and enjoying?
I’m admittedly an animal-mythology-fairy tale title reader. Sandman is my benchmark, and I tend to read through it once a year. I follow Fables and Unwritten as faithfully as I can. I love Girl Genius and Madame Xanadu. It’s not that I don’t read superhero titles; it’s just that I feel like I can never keep up.
I don’t really read manga, but I have become a big fan of Ooku: The Inner Chambers by Fumi Yoshinaga. Take the issues of Y: The Last Man and place it in Edo era feudal Japan. Fold in lovely fabric textures, political intrigue, and a little bit of sex—Momma like!
I also tend to read one-off and alternative titles (what my colleague loves to call “art school crap”). One of the ways libraries can support such artists is by making sure we have their titles available for people to read. I will often check out a title from the library that I had no intention of spending my own money on; then, if I like it, I will seek them out and talk them up. Along this vein, I read a lot of graphic biographies that are fantastic, such as The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, and of course Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (which was our library’s Books on the Bayou pick one year).
At the risk of being a heretic, can we stop talking about Maus as proof of the format being legitimate storytelling? Yes, it is an important title. Yes, it won awards. But there are so many other books that are also worth checking out as well!
I also read Walking Dead because, you know, zombies.
Who is your favorite character?
We have a tendency to read where we are, so in many ways Snow White (Fables) speaks to me—trying to balance family and work, trying to be a responsible leader (I’m in middle management at our library). Of course, I only have one child, but sometimes she can feel like seven!
I also have a soft spot for Delirium because I’m pretty sure that’s what my interior dialogue is like (complete with rainbows and fishies). Jill Thompson’s version is incredibly squee-worthy.
Who are your favorite artist(s) & writer(s)?
I will pretty much read anything Neil Gaiman and Brian K. Vaughan put on paper. Likewise Alex Ross; I love how it seems like you could actually meet his superheroes (not to mention the fact that Wonder Woman has saddlebags). I’ve already mentioned my girl-crush on Jill Thompson, as well as my love for Phil and Kaja Foglio. I want to swim in the lushness of P. Craig Russell’s artwork.
Do you have a favorite comic storyline?
There’s a lot of Sandman I go back to, but I love the story of Emperor Norton in Fables and Reflections. I grew up in Northern California, and my dad used to tell me stories about this San Franciscan eccentric. When I read Gaiman’s version, it all clicked into place why Joshua Norton went mad—and how he survived that madness. Ditto with Hamnet’s fate in Dream Country. There’s never a wrong note in either title.
How do you usually buy your comics?
With a couple of exceptions, I haven’t really bought a comic in a long time because I get them for FREE at the Library! We have both individual issues and trade collections, and I tend to read the trades. What my library doesn’t own, I can pursue through Inter Library Loan (which is how I read a majority of Usagi Yojimbo). Because I’m “professional,” I also read a lot of digital galleys for free.
I find a many titles simply because I read a lot of reviews, but I’m always open to recommendations. My husband and I tend to leave books on one another’s nightstands, and my colleagues send me Web comics by e-mail. It’s thanks to their suggestions that a majority of my newsletter gets written.
What are some things you love about comics? Some things that frustrate you?
I love how the format is very filmic—the blending of graphics and words for the purpose of telling a story or expressing an idea. A good comic happens when a writer allows the illustrator to be a part of the story, and then they both leave room for the reader to fill in the space (Scott McCloud has a very good section on the power of the alley in Understanding Comics). It’s a delicate balance, and I hate it when one party takes over too much of the narrative. For example, Steve Niles’s adaptation of I Am Legend is so very, very wordy! I might as well have just read the novel itself!
What does your dream book look like? (Who stars, writes, draws?)
Neil Gaiman writes. Alex Ross draws. Star anyone—even a piece of toast—and I will read it. (Wait, has this been done?)
Any final thoughts?
If you are a reader, come to the library! We can offer the titles you love and the titles you don’t know you love yet! If we don’t own it, we’ll try to get it for you, either through Inter Library Loan or seeing if we can purchase it. If the first librarian doesn’t support your reading comics, find someone who does. We are here!
If you are a creator, come to the library! Offer your services in our programs to show off your talents and network. Check out our resources on getting started in the industry.
Libraries worldwide are taking huge budget cuts. Last year, our system had to lay off people and cut back hours. Our book budget has taken a major hit for several years now. Yet we still carve out a part of that budget for comics. Come and see what we can offer to you!
Thanks for letting me play!