To a lot of bookish nerds out there, Colleen Frakes is living the dream: she's a librarian who draws comics in her spare time. And while Frakes is always very present in her work — seriously, read her memoir Prison Island — I've rarely seen her discuss her bookish life in her work. I've always wanted to read that book.
So when I was browsing the local cartoonist shelf at Phoenix Comics recently and I found a mini comic by Frakes titled Never Enough Books: Comics on a Library Life, I didn't hesitate for a second. I bought the book and read it immediately. (To be clear, Never Enough Books is only new to me; the indicia says it was first published in fall of last year.)
Never Enough Books is a collection of short autobiographical essays in comics from explaining Frakes's lifelong love affair with books. From her childhood as a self-described "'spend every recess in the library' type indoor kid" to her first librarian position at the Center for Cartoon Studies, Frakes explains what books have given her — and done to her.
If you grew up as a bookish nerd, you'll see yourself in these pages. Frakes is a genial host who romanticizes books while keeping her own mildly misanthropic tendencies in full focus. No, books can't cure everything. Yes, books do make everything better.
My one quibble with Never Enough Books is that it feels like a 90-page graphic novel crammed into a 12-page mini comic. I'd love to read a whole comic autobiography about becoming a librarian — perhaps with interesting moments in library history interspersed in the personal narrative. So far as I know, no cartoonist has ever made a book like that. The world is ready for the comics version of Nancy Pearl, and Frakes couldn't be more suited for that position if she were engineered in a laboratory.