A Recent Look at the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Studies

Dieser Beitrag auf Deutsch

The Online-Bibliography at Bonn University has added a new feature: BA, MA and diploma theses can now be offered in full as downloads, if the author so wishes. A similar repository was previously only accessible for registered users; now, any visitor to the site can read all the theses on offer. (Entering data sets into the bibliography and uploading new papers still requires registration, though.)

The feature launches with two theses already online. Joachim Trinkwitz, the database’s founder and main organizer, hopes that many others will follow. Older theses and recent work are equally welcome.

The same feature also allows users to post other papers, articles and books, for which the authors have retained or regained the rights to an online publication. Of course, the database also continues to support links to papers hosted elsewhere.

If this is the first you have heard about the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Studies, here is some basic information: The database differs from other projects in Germany, such as the Frankfurt Institut für Jugendbuchforschung (Department for Young Literature) or the Hamburg Arbeitsstelle für Graphische Literatur (Laboratory for Graphic Literature), which list only the resources available in their respective libraries. Instead, the Bonn Online Bibliography aims for a complete list of all contributions to comics studies, comparable to the MLA Bibliography for Literature and Linguistics, or the German BDSL (Bibliographie der deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft). The only truly similar project we know of so far is the American ComicsResearch.org; however, the Bonn Online Bibliography adds articles in journals as well as in edited volumes, and offers a broader choice of functions for keywords, linkage, and other research instruments. The most important of these is the possibility to add reviews and commentaries to each title, which might eventually turn the database into a bibliographie raisonnée. (I have in the past based introductory sessions to my courses on this function, asking each student to summarize and critically reflect upon one title of their choice.)

Of course, a single person can’t cover the whole ground for which the database is intended. So everyone interested in supporting the venture is welcome to point out any missing entries, or sign up for registration and add entries themselves.

Here are some statistics: The database currently lists 1464 titles in German, 3618 in English, 131 in French, 29 in Italian and 26 in Spanish, as well as a total of 92 in Scandinavian languages. This clearly shows major gaps in the rich area of French research; additions on this front are thus especially welcome.

The entries are cross-referenced for the titles of books and series they treat, for authors‘ and artists‘ names, for country, genre, topics etc. The most frequent keyword is — somewhat predictably — „Superheld“ (626 titles), followed closely by „manga“ (504). The most frequently treated comic series or books are either „Maus“ or „Batman“ (at 121 each), leaving „Superman“ well behind (95). For European titles, „Tintin“ is in front, while among German titles top billing goes, perhaps surprisingly, to „Leben? oder Theater?“. This book was authored by Charlotte Salomon, a Jewish author murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. Some might not consider the form to be strictly that of a comic book at all; the bibliography lists it as a sequential text-image-combination under „Randformen des Comics“, ‚outliers‘. 34 listed contributions deal with this text, placing it at #8 in the international charts. German comics are dealt with in 389 listed titles altogether, compared to 594 dealing with Japanese publications, and a much greater number dealing with US productions, which are still being indexed.

A quick summary bullet-point style:

  • currently lists more than 5300 monographies, journal articles and chapters in edited volumes;
  • every title is indexed by one or more keywords, many include abstracts, publication data or tables of content; texts that are available online are linked by URL or DOI (the latter usually leads to paywalls);
  • all titles are cross-referenced several times over (by names, journal, volume, keywords, publishers, etc.);
  • many research functions allow for a detailed search in any or all of these dimensions;
  • researched titles can be added to personal lists online and downloaded in various formats (RTF, BibTeX, RIS, XML, …), adapted to  standard bibliographic formats such as MLA or Chicago Style, or to self-defined other formats;
  • an RSS-feed offers up-to-date information on new entries and changes;
  • registered users can add new entries, commentaries and excerpts (public or private), assemble their own bibliographies for specific topics and make these accessible to specific user groups (I often do this for my own courses);
  • and given the author’s permission, texts can be made available in full for download.
The database has been part of Bonn University’s online services for several years and is also listed in the „Virtuelle Fachbibliothek Germanistik“ (GiN).

Joachim Trinkwitz (Bonn) / transl. Stephan Packard

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