American Graphic Novel: Finding secondary sources

This guide provides assistance in doing research for the course co-taught by Professors Jeremy Dauber and Paul Levitz.

Finding secondary sources

Searching in CLIO

CLIO will offer books--monographs and essay collections--on comics studies.  The principle subject heading for such secondary literature is:

Comic books, strips, etc--History and criticism

Enter the heading in CLIO, with or without punctuation, via the "Subject" search option.


Finding articles in scholarly journals

Coverage: 1963 onwards; updated 9 times a year

This bibliographic tool indexes books, dissertations, journals and essay collections on modern literature, language, and linguistics. The MLA refers to subject terms as “descriptors,” and the descriptor for graphic novels is comic book. Search also by individual writer or artist name.


Coverage: 1920 onwards

This bibliographic database indexes books, book reviews, dissertations, journals, and essay collections on English and American literature. ABELL’s subject term for graphic novels is comic books. Search also by individual writer or artist name.


Coverage: 1929-1984 with citations only; 1984-1994 with citations plus abstracts, 1994 onward with abstracts and some full-text.

This database indexes journals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins.  Art Full Text uses the subject term graphic novels, but not widely. Users will have better success searching under individual writers’ or artists’ names as a subject term.


Coverage: varies by publication title.

This database indexes newspapers, journals, mainstream periodicals, trade publications, dissertations, and websites. ProQuest uses the subject term graphic novels. Users can click the box next to "Scholarly journals, including peer-reviewed" to get academic articles.

Coverage: variable

This freely-accessible subset of Google searches scholarly journals and .edu websites.  A standard Google search done in Scholar will generate huge results that are often more useful than in "basic" Google.


Browsing in scholarly journals

Browsing the table of contents of scholarly journals can often yield unexpected results. The home page of online editions also allows keyword searching in the specific journal.

  • ImageText: interdisciplinary comics studies, University of Florida, English Department (online only)
  • International Journal of Comic Art (incomplete run available in print; some volumes also available online)
  • Image & Narrative: online magazine of the visual narrative,  Catholic University of Leuven (online only)
  • Studies in Comics (online only)
  • Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (available online up to 18 months ago)
  • The Comics Journal (select volumes available in print; select volumes--soon to be all--also online)
  • The Journal of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University (available in print and online)
  • The Comics Grid (online only)
  • SANE: Sequential Art Narrative in Education (online only)
  • Scandinavian Journal of Comic Art (online only)

See also:


Browsing monographic series

The University Press of Mississippi has several series of interviews with or studies of renowned cartoonists.  A title search in CLIO will produce the list of volumes in these series:

  • Conversations with comic artists
  • Great comics artists
  • Studies in popular culture (select volumes)

Try also searching CLIO:

Keyword: "will eisner" AND interviews



Dissertations can serve as surprisingly useful sources for bibliography.  Recent dissertations are often available as free, downloadable PDFs via ProQuest Digital Dissertations.

Digital Dissertations searching defaults to “All fields + text,” which is good for very specific topics; for broader searches, change the default to “All fields (no full text).”

Ancient & Medieval History Librarian; Graphic Novels Librarian