Duck Duck Book

49 – bookhunter
09.17.2007, 12:04 am
Filed under: comix, fiction

Bookhunter [comic book] / Jason Shiga.
[Portland, OR] : Sparkplug Comic Books, 2007
[Multnomah County Library does not yet have this book, but it has been ordered and should have the call number GN SHIGA; eight copies, one hold]

Imagine that crimes against the library were taken more seriously than they currently are, and you might picture a world in which a crack team of special agents guards the physical and institutional integrity of the Oakland Public Library. In Jason Shiga’s Bookhunter, the library’s police force fills this role amply and well. After an introductory story of a short encounter with a censor (who has stolen all eight copies of The China Lobby in America), Bookhunter follows Agents Bay, Walker, and Finch as they track down an accomplished and slippery rare book thief who has switched out the library’s priceless Caxton bible for a fake.

Bookhunter makes a few erroneous technical assertions that may annoy librarians and other bookish people, but on the whole the world of the library is faithfully articulated in the story, and especially in Shiga’s realistic-cartoon-y drawing style. An early scene follows Agent Bay as he wanders the public and private areas of the Oakland’s Main Library, pondering the methods used by the Caxton thief. The twelve pages of Bay’s quiet library tour are perhaps the most beautiful in the entire book — the circulation desk, the periodicals room, a microfiche reader, the massive 1970s-era catalog in its cardfile, the reading room, the restrooms, the bookmobile; and everywhere patrons, seemingly endless bookstacks, and the gracious spaces that make up the large public rooms of the main library.

The story is action-adventure at its best — the thrill of the chase, the grind of nuts-and-bolts police work, and lovingly related details of setting, personality, and plot make Bookhunter worthy of the attention of comics lovers, library lovers, and undoubtedly many other folk as well.

[thanks, Kristian]


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