The US federal government has been producing comics directly or indirectly ever since 1918, when the short-lived Bureau of Cartoons was used to encourage American cartoonists to create propaganda during the First World War. Still, few people seem to be aware of this unique and fascinating resource.
Government comics were the topic of a poster I presented at the 2019 Federal Depository Library Conference in Arlington, Virginia on October 22 of this year. It turned out that not only are nearly all non-document librarians unaware that government comics exist, even many document librarians have either never heard of government comics, or are unaware of just how many government comics there are in their collections.
Government comics are truly a hidden collection in most libraries, and my goal in creating this poster was to raise awareness of government comics and to suggest methods for a library to enhance its local collection and encourage patrons to use them.
Click poster to see full size.
After an interval this summer and a couple of postponements due to scheduling conflicts, the Comics Studies Reading Group started back up in November with a discussion of Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner.Our conversation was pretty wide-ranging, but touched on issues of teenage sexuality, sexual abuse, diaries & confessional writing, the interplay between text and image, memory and authorial voice, teaching difficult subject matter, and creating comics.
Our Comics Studies Reading Group had a few more thoughts to share about Captain Marvel…
[Warning Spoilers for Captain Marvel and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season Five)]
by Dr. Samantha Langsdale
SPOILERS: the following post DOES contain spoilers, so if you prefer not to have various plot points of the film revealed, read no further.
For those of us who enjoy superhero films, the last couple of years have been game changing. True, Hollywood has been producing superheroic blockbusters for decades, but the last two years in particular have given us a lot of firsts. Wonder Woman (2017), Black Panther (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), they all gave us something groundbreaking and put heroes on our screens that we had only caught glimpses of before (if ever). Captain Marvel (2019), starring Brie Larson, is the newest entry in this “Whoa! What was that!?” hall of fame. As Marvel’s first full-length feature with a solo female lead, and as a film that uses an unprecedented level of de-aging technology, Captain Marvel (CM) is definitely novel. But what really struck me, and I imagine, a lot of other women, was how intensely relatable the film was—not only because, for only the second time ever, the main superhero protagonist was a woman, but also because her greatest enemy was one that I too fight on a regular basis. And I’m not talking about Skrulls. Read more
Fan’s of the CW’s Riverdale know Cheryl Blossom as the unscrupulous rich girl with serious fashion sense who lives by her own moral code. But many viewers might not know that Cheryl has a longer history in the Archieverse than her latest TV incarnation. Cheryl Blossom #1 (Archie Comics, December 2018) invites us to remedy that knowledge gap by highlighting some of Cheryl’s earliest appearances in Archie Comics.
We recently completed the first semester of our UNT Comics Studies Reading Group, and held our first meeting of 2019. The group has readers from UNT and TCU, including faculty, staff, librarians, and students. We’ve had a regular attendance of 4-6 people, plus occasional others who have contributed to the conversations about some really interesting comics, graphic novels, and web-comics. We’re hoping to expand both our membership and our readings this semester, so come join us if you’re interested! Just email email@example.com to get on the mailing list for upcoming meetings. Our next one is Saturday, March 23, 2019, from 1-2:30 p.m. at Denton Brewing Co. (Note: This was rescheduled from February!) Read more
If you haven’t seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) yet, you might want to treat yourself and your kids to a viewing over the holidays. It’s a fun, action-packed, visually stunning film for all ages, and one that should appeal to old-school and new Spider-fans alike. A few of our Comics Studies Reading Group regulars offered some reflections on the film below. There are no strong spoilers here, but feel free to hold off until you’ve seen it and join the conversation in the comments below! Read more
On Friday, August 17, 2018, we had the first organizational meeting for our new Comics Studies Reading Group at UNT. This is a group devoted to reading and discussing comics & graphic novels, as well as interesting scholarship, popular media, or films related to comics studies. Read more
I’ve been on a bit of a crime spree lately—in the library. It all started with my friend Krista Gehring’s new graphic textbook series, CrimComics. Each issue offers insights into specific aspects of criminology and criminal justice, including history, theory, biographical and case studies, and contemporary issues in crime & punishment, all told through the medium of graphic narrative. Gehring herself is a Criminal Justice professor at the University of Houston-Downtown who specializes in women offenders, criminological theory, gender-responsive policies & practices, and risk/needs assessment. She also happens to be a great fan of crime and horror comics, films, and popular culture. Thinking that this might be a great way to combine her passions while also doing some creative teaching with students who had trouble grasping theoretical concepts in criminology, Gehring got together with an old friend from grad school, Michael R. Batista, who also happens to be a freelance artist, and began working on a graphic textbook concept in early 2010. Read more
If you’re ever in Washington, DC, stop by the James Madison Building at The Library of Congress and see what has been touted as the largest publicly available Comic Book Collection in the United States. Most of the current comic books at the Library of Congress have been acquired through copyright deposit, but a small selection of foreign titles are also available. In addition, a recently-signed agreement with the Small Press Expo (SPX) allows the Library to collect independent comics and cartoons that are not available through copyright deposit. Read more