Jenny McCluskey may not be a comic artist, but she truly understands, and appreciates, the creativity and complexity of graphic novels. Here at Ingram, we like to refer to Jenny as our graphic novel guru. Not only is she extremely knowledgeable in graphic novels, but she has front line experience as an avid Comic-Con attendee.
|Before calling Ingram her home, Jenny worked at a local library while attending Middle Tennessee State University to obtain her Bachelor’s in English. Jenny’s college job evolved into a passion that led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Library/Information Science at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Jenny has spent seven years in Ingram’s Collection Development department where she is devoted to helping libraries collect the best graphic novels from classics to the latest hits. In honor of National Library Week, we sat down with Jenny to discuss her experience--and, of course, reminisce about her favorite Comic-Con memories.|
Q: What led you to a career in Collection Development-Graphic Novels?
A: I love books! I did not have a lot of experience with graphic novels, but I’d always been intrigued by them. When I was offered the category after a colleague retired in 2013, I just couldn’t turn it down. It was and still is a great opportunity to help enrich our local communities. And for those patrons who love to read, it’s just another form of storytelling that is too hard to pass up.Q: What’s your favorite thing about comics?
A: I love the combination of art and story. It’s a science to express writing with art that fully brings the characters to life. When done well, it is a beautiful thing.Q: Who are your favorite comics creators?
A: Oh gosh, there are so many! I love the work of Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, Janet Lee, Faith Erin Hicks, Gene LuenYang, Raina Telgemeier, Kate Beaton, Matt Phelan, Scott McCloud, and Bryan Lee O’Malley. The list goes on…Q: What role do graphic novels play in libraries today?
A: Graphic novels continue to provide value to a library’s collection. More comics are being geared towards younger audiences and are a great way to reach reluctant readers. I love that libraries have embraced this format and recognize its value. Many graphic novelists are using comics to share history, represent modern culture and expose people to new ideas.Q: How have graphic novels evolved since you began your career?
A: Within the last several years, more realistic story lines and memoirs are being published. It’s no longer just superheroes and villains, there is
so much variety that I believe any reader can find a comic or graphic novel they will enjoy.
A: There continues to be more diversity with characters and creators, which is great. With time, every reader will be able to see themselves represented in comics. I’ve also noticed a recent rise in mystery-themed graphic novels, which has been a bit underrepresented in the past.Q: What’s the Comic- Con International experience like?
A: San Diego Comic-Con is an interesting and fun event. I encourage everyone to go to at least once in their lifetime. It seems like I am in a different world for four days; it’s great to see so many creators, industry experts, and fans come together. Also, the San Diego Public Library simultaneously offers a whole slate of panels dedicated to graphic novels’ impact on libraries and schools. One highlight for me was meeting Representative John Lewis whose March trilogy has been very popular. Overall, it is a wonderful place to meet with publishers and discuss their businesses and the latest trends.
Comics are increasingly growing in popularity, and Jenny has been extremely influential in aiding libraries with the development of their collections.
Interested in learning more about graphic novel trends? Ingram and Library Journal will be hosting a webinar on June 13 th at 3PM EST. There will be a panel of graphic novel creators and librarian experts discussing the diversity of comics. Make sure to register here and tune in!