“Webcomics are an increasingly popular format utilized by contemporary creators in the field and often include material by artists not available elsewhere,” Megan Halsband, a librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division, says in a statement.
The webcomics archive includes a focus on diversity in terms of both cartoonists and characters.
“I tried to collect female creators because we don’t have a lot of them historically in the mainstream collection,” Halsband tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. Those creators include Allie Brosh (“Hyperbole and a Half”), Kate Beaton (“Hark! A Vagrant”), Melanie Gillman (“As the Crow Flies”), Meredith Gran (“Octopus Pie”), Lucy Knisely (“Stop Paying Attention”), Katie Cook (“Gronk”) and Noelle Stevenson (“Nimona”).
Halsband says her team also sought political content, including Matt Bors’s “The Nib” archive, as well as comics representing diverse narratives on human sexuality, including Erika Moen’s “DAR” and Jess Fink’s “Chester 5000 XYV.”
The longevity and acclaim of the webcomics are also criteria in culling the initial archive.
The library also announced the launch of its Web Cultures Web Archive, “a representative sampling of websites documenting the creation of emergent cultural traditions on the web such as GIFs, memes and emoji,” the library says. It will be part of the institution’s American Folklife Center.
The announcement comes ahead of the library’s new comics exhibit that will open this weekend, at the same time as the Awesome Con pop-culture convention at the Washington Convention Center. The exhibit will feature nearly 100 pieces, from vintage comic books to Steve Ditko’s original “Amazing Fantasy” art for the debut of Spider-Man.