Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Dewey Decimal System is Decadent and Depraved


By Bill Volk

I worked in a library when I was in university, the medical school's library. It was filled with books of disgusting photos of medical things and didn't use the Dewey Decimal System. It was a pretty boring job, and I spent most of my time either reading books (Foucault's Pendulum in two days) or helping completely clueless medical students find books and magazines (always depressing when they couldn't understand alphabetical order or page numbers).

Volk apparently worked in a library that had books considerably more interesting than "Renal Failure". Specifically it had comic books! Not many sure, but it had some, and he had lots of free time during which he could read them.

However, one day while reshelving books Volk discovered that there were comics shelved in other sections of the library. Maus was in the history section and Volk wanted to know why it wasn't with the other graphic novels. He asked his coworkers and other librarians but nobody seemed to know (or care), and so Volk had to ask the one person who was sure to know: the undead spirit of Melvil Dewey himself.

Volk transforms his very essence and journeys through the spirit world, meeting Dewey, Art Spiegelman, and Fortuna in his quest to discover why certain books are misfiled. Alright, so it's not exactly the most realistic comic out there, but it's pretty good.

As for the art I think the most complimentary thing I can say about it is that I didn't realize this was a 24 hour comic until I sat down to write this review. Looking at it again with this knowledge I can see that later pages get a bit scrawly, and that there's a general lack of backgrounds, but none of that detracted from my enjoyment of this comic. I liked Volk's interpretations of Dewey and Spiegelman, while his own spirit forms are pretty cute too.

I have my own library related mystery that perhaps you can answer. How did we end up with books that claimed they weren't going to be published until the next year? If a book's copyright date is in the future is it protected under law?

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