#5 “In this issue everybody dies!”

The title above was taken from the cover of Blood Syndicate, #17 (DC Comics, Aug. 1994). Chosen because the series was only halfway over at that point, despite the dire excitement the cover shouted.

Honorable mention for a title: “Sacre! That human starfish – attacking us with ze gym equipment!” (Blackhawk, # 190 (National Periodical Publications, Inc., Nov. 1963). I highly encourage looking up pictures of the great Human Starfish, because it wasn’t how I thought I’d be spending a morning.

Some interesting developments in the project:

  1. My website parser code mostly works – but I’ve determined it won’t be helpful. I could grab stuff, awkwardly, from the Grand Comics Database. And that would have been good for the previous cataloger, to collect names of people – editors and pencillers and the myriad other individuals who work on creating a comic.

    At this stage, however, most of the fields I’m inputting are more subjective (subject, genre) or more troublesome than a code would help with (choosing characters to include, or making sense of table-of-content pieces). So it was a fun experiment, but without a limited vocabulary or a standardized method of inputting results from the GCD, it’ll just be (sadly) faster to do it by hand.

  2. In other news, one of my project supervisors, Steven Holloway, contacted a colleague to submit Wakanda (Africa : Imaginary place) as a subject heading for Library of Congress, through the Africana Funnel for SACO (we had a brief discussion of how to show literary warrant from a NACO- and MARC-based submission outline) (I finished up what we own of Black Panther earlier and Wakanda is so much better than just saying the entire continent of Africa).

  3. I finished Black Panther and Captain America (it’s not necessarily easier to catalog things you know, since then you try to find really great subject headings – though I am pleased with my subjects for our ashcan issue of American Gods). Today should see me through the Fs and, finally and formidably, into the beginning of G.I. Joe (we have a lot of those) (175 issues, according to my spreadsheet).

  4. These last few days have also really begun the questions of how we’re going to be representative and not assumptive or manipulative; how we’re going to make use of subject headings and our historical note properly.

    The current goal is to include important notes when we can about our collection (i.e., “First appearance of Falcon,” or, on Batman #230, “Group patterned after the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense appears on cover only”). We want our patrons to understand the importance of what we have without telling them in as many words. We’ll have lists of important black artists and such in our collection – that’s the on-the-shelf plan as of last week – but then we want people to explore.

    This could all change still; that’s one of the great things about cataloging and description that I think a lot of non-librarians don’t understand. We have the power to change things if they need to be changed. Is it inefficient? Yes. Should it be done? Always, if something’s wrong or hurting someone unjustly.

I think the hardest thing about this is coming to trust my own judgments. I still don’t. I’m gonna need to go back sometime (this Friday, probably) and edit a bunch of stuff that I didn’t know how to fully approach – and I wouldn’t have known, until I cataloged 250 comics and saw what made them work, from a metadata standpoint. I’ll go over those changes next blog, but they’ll both be big and not too difficult, in the scheme of things.

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