How do I cite one issue of a comic book from a volume containing multiple issues?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
How you cite one issue depends on the nature of the source. For example, comic books can be paginated or unpaginated, and the same team or a different team of writers and artists may contribute to each issue in a volume containing multiple issues. A volume could contain all the issues in a series, or the series could be published in multiple volumes.
Paginated with the Same Team of Writers and Artists
The example below shows you a possible way to cite a quotation from a comic book issue included in a paginated volume containing all the issues in the series. The same team of writers and artists created each issue.
You can begin the works-cited-list entry with the work’s title, since comics are ensemble works. In the Contributors element, list any contributors essential to your discussion, preceding each name with a description of that contributor’s role. Then provide the issue number, the name of the publisher, and the publication date.
To create your in-text citation, mention the title of the work in prose or parentheses to key your reference to the first element of the entry and provide a page number for the quotation in parentheses:
After the Phantom Stranger helps rescue Hal Jordan, Zatanna says, “Thank you, Phantom Stranger. I didn’t know if you’d help us” (Justice 238).
In Justice, after the Phantom Stranger helps rescue Hal Jordan, Zatanna says, “Thank you, Phantom Stranger. I didn’t know if you’d help us” (238).
Justice. Script by Jim Krueger, story by Krueger and Alex Ross, art by Doug Braithwaite and Ross, no. 8, DC Comics, 2011.
Note that Krueger and Ross are listed more than once because they play multiple roles in the work. Per MLA style, their full names are given at first mention and only their last names thereafter.
Also, since the volume is paginated, the issue number is not strictly necessary, but if a source includes information about a core element, we generally recommend listing the information in the entry.
Unpaginated with a Different Team of Writers and Artists
Sometimes, however, you may need to cite an issue appearing in an unpaginated volume containing multiple issues, and the team of writers and artists for each issue could vary. In this case, you would need to make clear that the team contributed to the issue you are citing, not to the volume as a whole. Below are various solutions.
Solution 1: Use a Note at First Mention of the Work in Your Discussion
Doctor Aphra introduces herself to Emperor Palpatine, saying, “I’m Doctor Aphra. We’ve got a mutual friend. I’ve got things you need to know” (Star Wars).1
Star Wars: Darth Vader. Vol. 2, no. 24, Marvel Worldwide, 2017.
- Issue 24 of Star Wars: Darth Vader was written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Salvador Larroca. The cover was created by Larroca and Edgar Delgado.
Solution 2: List the Contributors in the Optional-Element Slot at the End of the Entry
Star Wars: Darth Vader. Vol. 2, no. 24, Marvel Worldwide, 2017. Issue 24 was written by Kieron Gillen and drawn by Salvador Larroca, and the cover was created by Larroca and Edgar Delgado.
Solution 3: Provide an Individual Title for Each Issue and List Only the Contributors Relevant to Your Discussion
Vader, Part 2. Star Wars: Darth Vader, written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Salvador Larroca, vol. 1, no. 2, Marvel Worldwide, 2015.
Solution 4: List the Pertinent Contributors in the Author Element
Gillen, Kieron, writer, and Salvador Larroca, artist. Star Wars: Darth Vader. Vol. 2, no. 24, Marvel Worldwide, 2017.