The Library, Comics And Me

Times aren’t just tough. They’re weird! And here’s proof:

I was recently recruited by Friends of the Seattle Public Library to persuade the City of Seattle not to cut the library budget. It gets weirder. My expertise and reason for testifying? Comic books.

I testified at a Seattle City Council budget hearing on April 20 that libraries needed to stay open so that kids can check out and read comics/graphic novels.

The 10-year-old kid in me—I once had to smuggle Captain America comics into our home because “funny books” were considered junk literature—is flabbergasted to be testifying about the importance of comics.

And yet, there I was explaining that graphic novels are now a major attraction in libraries—especially to kids:

“A few years ago, my daughter and her friends learned Japanese primarily so that they could read Japanese graphic novels.

“Today, hundreds [thousands?] of these books have been translated and published and are more popular than ever. And kids are devouring them. But times are tough.

“That means–for many kids—there’s only one place where they can find these books. Whether it’s graphic novels or Harry Potter or Moby Dick, it’s the library that’s going to keep our kids excited and reading.”

(A more complete version of my testimony is here on the Friends of the Library blog.)

Of course, there were other pleas on behalf of the library. Some quite serious—such as people needing the libraries so that they can go online and search for jobs. My plea, obviously, was the offbeat, pop-culture-with fun visual aids testimony.

As it turns out, none of this saved the library budget from being cut this year. But we were already fighting for next year’s budget. So, we’ll see what happens.

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  1. Good job, John! I also believe libraries are great, important, and deserve everybody’s support. Corry and I use the KCLS a lot. Also, I recently saw Joe Raiola (MAD magazine) appear at our local branch (he was terrific). I think seeing him in that kind of community venue, and for free, and hearing him satirizing the history of censorship, no less, is an example of what makes our libraries such a vital and needed service.

    • John is my uncle. I love his comics they are hilarious.

  2. Next, they’ll be asking you to testify in congress, as well as Gregoire! Keep on doing what you’re doing 🙂 Thanks for all your good work (and great comics, of course).

  3. Good job John. I would consider this your good deed for the week!

  4. One must always wonder if it is a cartoonist’s love of literature that would lead him to actively support his library, or just a sense of guilt for leading so many young minds from great literature in the first place.

    Either way, you done good, John!

  5. The city council, like the mayor, already had their minds made up, but I’m glad you gave it a shot, John.

  6. Thanks, everybody. I actually had fun testifying. The hard part was that I was only given one minute. So I really had to pare my text down and practice my talk before hand with a timer. I ended up about three seconds over–which was a lot less than most folks.

    • Hey uncle john. Hope to see you this summer.
      – Ellie

  7. Your testimony was great John. I’m sad the library budget got cut this year but hope the fight for next year’s budget will be successful. Libraries are about as important as it gets.

  8. Thank you John, You’re a great speaker and you made a persuasive argument. I see alot of Manga and Graphic Novels going out at my library. I also see alot of teens on computers. Thankfully libraries carry comics these days they sure didn’t when I was a kid.

  9. Nice entry on the Friends of the Library blog, Reader. Thanks for providing that! I didn’t have that link when I first wrote this post, but I’ve added it now.



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