The Library of Congress Previews their new Stephen A. Geppi Collection of Comics and Graphic Arts

The Library of Congress will open a new display of select items from the Stephen A. Geppi Collection of Comics and Graphic Arts from Nov. 6, 2018, through Feb. 11, 2019, in the Great Hall of the historic Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St., SE, Washington, DC.

On May 30, 2018, Stephen A. Geppi donated more than 3,000 items from his vast personal collection of comic books and popular art, the largest donation of its kind in the Library’s history.  The multimillion-dollar gift includes comic books, original art, photos, posters, newspapers, buttons, pins, badges and related materials. It includes a wide range of rare comics and represents the Golden, Silver, and Bronze ages of comic books.  The mint-condition collection is also noted for its racially and socially diverse content as well as the distinctive creative styles of each era.

Today, the Library of Congress invited media to check out the items on display, just a small fraction of the total collection. You can see what’s on display with images provided by the library.

Agile Case #1:

Patriotism

Stephen A. Geppi generously donated his collection of comics and entertainment art to the Library of Congress in 2018. A portion of the collection, once housed in the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, supported the American military through products aimed at children and adults including coloring books, Big Little Books, comic books and action figures. Most of these items were created during wartime. Of particular note in this case are Joe Simon’s concept drawing for the superhero Captain America, created in 1940 in reaction to World War II raging in Europe, and the prototype for the first action figure, G. I. Joe, developed by Hasbro Creative Director Don Levine during the Vietnam War in 1964.

Joe Simon (1913–2011). Captain America, 1940. Ink and watercolor over graphite drawing. Prints and Photographs Division (A)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Captain America, (Marvel) no. 100, 1968. Serial and Government Publications Division (B)

Fredric C. Madan. Spot the Planes Coloring Book. Chicago: The Merrill Publishing Co., 1944. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (C)

Fredric C. Madan. Rangers and commandos coloring book. Chicago: The Merrill Publishing Co., 1943. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (D)

Erwin L. Hess (1913–1999). Captain Midnight and the Secret Squadron. Wisconsin: Whitman Publishing, 1941. Big Little Book no. 1488. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (E)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, (Marvel) no. 1, June 1982. Serial and Government Publications Division (F)

Don Levine (1928–2014). GI Joe original prototype, 1964. Hand-shaped and shaved plastic, and hand-sewn fabric. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (G)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Agile Case #2:

Early Comic Materials and Marketing

Early comics appeared in newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets, and other publications, like the American Comic Almanac, as single panels (non-sequential illustrations) rather than comic strips. Rodolphe Töpffer is considered the innovator of the sequential comic image, as seen here in his second publication The Veritable History of Mr. Bachelor Butterfly. One of the earliest comic strip characters to appear in newspapers was the Yellow Kid, created by RF Outcault. The use of comic characters to market consumer goods originated with the Yellow Kid strip. The Geppi Collection includes many excellent examples of the intersections between popular culture and popular goods.

The Idiot, or, Invisible Rambler, vol. 1, no. Boston: Samuel Simpleton, March 28, 1818. Serial and Government Publications Division (A)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Rodolphe Töpffer (1799–1846). The Veritable History of Mr. Bachelor Butterfly. London: D. Bogue, 1845. Serial and Government Publications Division (B)

The American Comic Almanac, vol.1, no. 3. Boston: Charles Elms, 1833. Serial and Government Publications Division (C)

Charlie Baker, composer. Yellow Kid Schottische. Sheet music. New York: Union Mutual Music Co., 1897. Prints and Photographs Division (D)

Printing Block for the Yellow Kid. Hand cut wood engraving block. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (E)

Quick Mother’s Oats. Quaker Oats Company, 1950. Photomechanical printed box. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (F)

Popeye Daily Dime Bank. King Features Syndicate, Inc., 1956. Machine painted metal. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (G)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. Michigan: Kellogg Company, [ca. 1940s]. Photomechanical printed box. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (H)

Chic Young. Blondie’s Soups, Salads, Sandwiches Cook Book. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1947. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (I)

Agile Case #3:

Mickey Mouse

In 2018 Mickey Mouse turned ninety, and while he looks somewhat different than he did in his youth of the 1920s and 1930s, he remains one of the most recognizable images in the world. Starring in comics, cartoons, and feature films, Mickey has become an indelible part of popular culture. Recognizing the character’s cultural importance, Stephen A. Geppi collected representative pieces of Mickey produced over the decades.

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Ub Iwerks. Plane Crazy. Walt Disney Studios, 1928. Graphite drawing. Animation storyboard, the first appearance of Mickey Mouse. Prints and Photographs Division (A)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller. © Disney

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

A Handful of Fun. Eisendrath Glove Company, ca. 1935. 12-page booklet, given as a premium with purchase, features mazes, games and puzzles. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (B)

Mickey Mouse Club Snap-on Mouseketeer Ears. Kohner Bros., ca. 1950s. Registered as No. 303. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (C)

Mickey Mouse Sails for Treasure Island. Racine, Wisconsin: Whitman Publishing Company, 1935. Big Little Book, No. 750. First of seven Mickey Mouse books in the Big Little Book series. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (D)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Mickey Mouse, the Mail Pilot. Racine, Wisconsin: Whitman Publishing Company, 1933. Big Little Book, No. 731. One of the first true Big Little Books. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (E)

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. K.K. Publications Inc., no. 46, July 1944. Serial and Government Publications Division (F)

Mickey Mouse UK Annual no. 2. Dean and Son Ltd., 1931. Serial and Government Publications Division (G)

Agile Case #4:

Exploration

Exploration of new technologies and new worlds has long been an exciting topic for popular culture materials. H.G. Well’s Time Machine, first published in 1895, along with such early pulp magazines and comic strips as Flash Gordon, catered to the public’s fascination with these subjects. Later comic books, such as Weird Fantasy, continued to present new fantastical possibilities well before science caught up.

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Hugo Gernsback, ed. Amazing Stories, vol. 3, no. 5 (August 1928). Experimenter Publishing Co. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (A)

Hugo Gernsback, ed. Practical Electrics, vol. 1, no. 10, September 1922. Serial and Government Publications Division (B)

H.G. Wells. The Time Machine. London: The Readers Library Publishing Company Ltd., n.d.  Rare Book and Special Collections Division (C)

“Flash Gordon Goes to Mars,” Look Magazine, March 15, 1938. Des Moines, Iowa: Cowles Communications. (Featuring actor Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon). Serial and Government Publications Division (D)

“Superman Krypto-Raygun.” Daisy Manufacturing Company, 1940. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (E)

Jim Jones and Paul Virdone. Capt. Quick’s Flying Saucers and Rocket Ships. Crown Publishers, 1953. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (F)

Weird Fantasy (EC Comics), no. 15 (September-October 1950). Serial and Government Publications Division (G)

Agile Case #5:

About the Geppi Entertainment Museum

After nearly thirty years of publishing and collecting comics, Stephen A. Geppi opened the Geppi Entertainment Museum in 2006 having expanded his collecting scope to include toys, films, books, games, and much more. In 2018, Geppi donated this extensive collection of twentieth-century popular culture to the Library of Congress. With this donation he has made it possible for generations of Americans to revisit their past, and future historians to explore the past century’s material culture.

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Captain Marvel Club. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, ca. 1940. Welcome letter and envelope written in code, with code key included at bottom. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (A)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Secret Code of Junior Justice Society of America. DC Comics, ca. 1942–1944. Cardboard code wheel: Front features Secret Code and has owner’s name and address in ink on provided lines. Reverse has instructions and small die-cut window where JSA members’ names are visible. With accompanying cardboard instructions. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (B)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Meet Sugar Hill and her Zombie Hit Men! American International Pictures, 1974. Publicity brochure featuring motion picture advertisements and posters. Prints and Photographs Division (C)

Three Day Ticket. August 15–17, 1969. Ticket sheet for the “Woodstock Music and Art Fair,” #11966. The reverse side reads: “No refunds for any reason including lost or stolen tickets.”  Rare Book and Special Collections Division (D)

Beatles New Sound Guitar. Selcol Products Limited Made in England under License, 1964. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (E)

Items from the Steve Geppi Collection are displayed for a media preview prior to the collection going on display, October 30, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Pac-Man Cereal. General Mills, between 1983 and 1988. Rare Book and Special Collections Division (F)

McDonald’s Corporation. McDonald’s Start Trek Meal, 1979. First McDonald’s Happy Meal movie tie-in. Prints and Photographs Division (G)

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