Spotlight on: Underground & Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels

If you’re seeking comics gems, Underground & Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels is a database you will likely want to explore. It includes titles from over 500 comics series, amounting to 163,263 pages (and counting!). Also included are complete volumes of The Comics Journal, dating from 1977 to 2009.

The database offers full-color, easy to navigate reproductions of graphic works from 1940-2013, loosely grouped into the designation “Underground.” By clicking into the Genres tab, you can swiftly dip into comics by category – Fantasy, Romance, Autobiographical, Adult, and more.

Popular series, such as Love and Rockets, Wendel, and even a few full graphic novels (Stuck Rubber Baby, You’ll Never Know), are available as well. Users have the option to create a “Playlist” of comics works, with accessible permalinks for teaching and class assignments.

To navigate the database, you can browse by title, genre or use the Advanced Search feature, which includes comics-specific fields like Character Species and Coloring. There is also a way to search by “People,” tagged by their role – artist, author, inker, character, and more. Information about individual creators, such as race, birth year, nationality, and gender, is listed.

On a similar note, it’s worth noting that the overall representation in Underground & Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels is strongly male. When the “People” category is sorted by gender, the list breaks down to 2,891 men and 376 women. Even though the list includes all comics-related roles (and not just authors), it is not fully representative of comics today.

If you like, feel free to check out these online resources that help to showcase the historical and contemporary diversity in comics:

Women in Comics Wiki
Cartoonists of Color Database
Queer Cartoonists Database

About the Author

Elvis Bakaitis is an Adjunct Reference Librarian at the Graduate Center Library.