Pulitzer-prize winning graphic-novelist Art Spiegelman and several comics publishers paid a visit to the monthly meeting of the BISAC committee of the Book Industry Study Group yesterday to urge the creation of a new category for graphic novels.

Spiegelman's presence -- and the lobbying effort as a whole -- yielded the desired result. The committee agreed to create a major category for graphic novels/comics, with sub-headings for fiction, non-fiction, anthologies and comics technique, among others. The new category listings are preliminary and will be refined at a later date. BISAC categories are used to assist retailers in categorizing and shelving books.

Lobbying efforts were spearheaded by Drawn & Quarterly publisher Chris Oliveros, who flew in from Toronto for the meeting. Graphic novel publishers contend that sticking graphic novels under the current humor category not only resulted in an inappropriate product mix -- kid-friendly PowerPuff Girls racked next to the ultra-violent Preacher , for instance -- but made it harder for readers interested in subgenres such as fantasy, manga or superheroes to find what they are looking for. The committee decided to separate juvenile graphic novels and adult material, while folding such existing categories as Humor-Cartoons into the new category.

Besides Spiegelman and Oliveros, NBM publisher Terry Nantier, Rich Johnston and Peggy Burns from DC Comics also turned out.

This article originally appeared in the January 17, 2003 issue of PW NewsLine. For more information about PW NewsLine, including a sample and subscription information, click here.