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Raina Telgemeier, Ngozi Ukazu, Jim Ottaviani head to the National Book Festival courtesy of the Small Press Expo

Small Press Expo 2019

Small Press Expo (SPX) has announced it is again a sponsor of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. As a part of this sponsorship, SPX is supporting both Ngozi Ukazu and Jim Ottaviani in their appearances at the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

Long-time SPX creator Raina Telgemeier will present on the prestigious Main Stage, where she will be introduced by SPX Executive Director Warren Bernard.

Raina will also be a Special Guest at SPX 2019, to be held September 14 & 15 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

The National Book Festival, the largest book festival in the United States, takes place Saturday, August 31, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.

There will be 145 authors across all genres giving talks and signing their books at the festival.

Raina Telgemeier

1:30-2:30PM – Book Signing
6:00-7:30PM – Poetry Slam
4:00-5:00 PM – Main Stage Presentation – “Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story” (Graphix/Scholastic)

Raina Telgemeier

Ngozi Ukazu

2:15-2:50PM – Presentation – “Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey” (First Second)
3:30-4:30PM – Book signing

Ngozi Ukazu

Jim Ottaviani

11:00AM-11:45AM – Presentation – “Hawking” (First Second)
12:30-1:30PM – Book Signing

Jim Ottaviani

Otakon Teams with the Library of Congress for a Special Event

Anime for All,” a celebration of East Asian culture, mythology, pop culture and inspiration, will be held Thursday, July 25 through Friday, July 26, in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The film screening — along with a collection display of rare Japanese graphic art, a panel discussion on the emergence of Japanese hip-hop and a live Studio Ghibli performance — will showcase the evolution of Japanese storytelling traditions that have been transformed into modern forms of expressions and overall pop-culture fandom. 

The events are free and open to the public. Tickets are available for some of the “Anime for All” activities, but are not required. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit this event-ticketing site for more information and to secure your ticket. Entry is not guaranteed. 

Fans of anime, manga and Japanese pop culture have much to explore in the Library’s collections. The Prints and Photographs Division contains over 2,500 Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo Period through the 21st century. The Asian Division’s collection is the largest repository of Japanese-language materials outside of Japan, totaling 1.2 million monograph volumes with a rare book collection exceeding 5,900 items dating as far back as the 8th century. The Serials and Government Publications Division houses over 140,000 comic books, including treasures such as the rare early English-language editions of “Astro Boy,” “Macross” and “Ultraman.”

Emergence of the Comic Strip in the 19th Century, April 9 at the Library of Congress

Library of Congress

Swann Foundation Fellow Joshua Abraham Kopin will give an illustrated lecture at the Library of Congress discussing the cultural and technological contexts surrounding the rise of the comic strip in late nineteenth century America.  

Kopin will present “Comics in Nineteenth Century Time and Space” at noon on Tuesday, April 9, West Dining Room on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Building, 101 Independence Avenue  S.E., Washington, D.C. The lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed. 

To better understand comics of the present, it is necessary to better understand its nineteenth-century form. As it split off from caricature and cartoon, the late nineteenth-century comic strip joined many new technologies of time and space. These changes included advances in printing, early attempts to capture motion in film, and early sound recording, all developments that were rapidly accelerating society and culture. As part of this cultural environment, the comic strip thus represents an insight into the period’s changing temporal and spatial theories of knowledge. 

By reframing the comic strip in terms of the cultural and technological history of the nineteenth-century United States, Kopin contends that the art form is a uniquely nineteenth-century object that has retained many of the artifacts of its development as it has evolved. The talk will focus on one particular example from R.F. Outcault’s Hogan’s Alley,placing this 19th century comic strip in a technological lineage, aligned with caricature, cinema, color printing and the gramophone, among others.

Joshua Kopin is a PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has works published or forthcoming in American Literature and Inks, as well as an entry in the upcoming Keywords for Comics Studies volume. He is a member at large on the board of the International Comic Arts Forum and the president of the Graduate Student Caucus of the Comic Studies Society.

This presentation, sponsored by the Swann Foundation and the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division, is part of the foundation’s continuing activities to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world.

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)

Small Press Expo Announces Tillie Walden and Ed Piskor at the National Book Festival

Small Press Expo (SPX) is proud to announce it is again a sponsor of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. As a part of this sponsorship, SPX is supporting both Tillie Walden and Ed Piskor in their appearances at the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

The National Book Festival, the largest book festival in the United States, takes placeSaturday, September 1, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C. There will be over 100 authors across all genres giving talks and signing books at the festival.

Tillie and Ed will be part of the Graphic Novel portion of the Genre Fiction Pavilion, along with Roxanne GayPatrick McDonnell, and Pénélope Bagieu.

Tillie Walden

  • Onstage at Genre Fiction withPénélope Bagieu 3:10- 3:40PM
  • Signing at 5:30-6:30PM

Ed Piskor

  • Onstage at Genre Fiction 3:40-4:10PM
  • Signing at 5:30-6:30PM

The Library of Congress Declares “Anime for All” With a New Exhibit Timed for Otakon

A display of Japanese woodblock prints and medieval picture scrolls, a family-friendly cosplay workshop and a free talk with famed Japanese writer and director Kihara Hirokatsu will highlight the Library of Congress’ series of events being presented in conjunction with Otakon, Washington, D.C.’s annual convention celebrating Asian pop culture (anime, manga, music, movies, video games, etc.) and its fandom.

Anime for All,” a celebration of east-Asian culture, mythology, pop culture and inspiration will be held Wednesday, Aug. 8 through Friday, Aug. 10 in the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington D.C. The series of events will showcase Japanese storytelling traditions that have been transformed into modern day forms of art and will seek to illuminate how Japan’s ancient history has played a significant role in pop-culture and how it continues to inspire creativity in the arts.

Events are free and open to the public. Tickets are available for some of the “Anime for All” activities, but are not required. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit this event ticketing site for more information and to secure your ticket. Entry is not guaranteed.

Fans of anime, manga and Japanese pop culture have much to explore in the Library’s collections. The Prints and Photographs division contains over 2,500 Japanese woodblock prints from the Edo Period through the 21st Century. The Asian Division’s collection is the largest repository of Japanese language materials outside of Japan, totaling 1.2 million monograph volumes with a rare book collection exceeding 5,900 items, dating as far back as the 8th century. The Serials and Government Publications division houses over 140,000 comic books, including treasures such as the rare early English-language editions of “Astro Boy,” “Macross,” and “Ultraman.”

The series will conclude on Saturday, Aug. 11 with a panel discussion featuring Library of Congress experts on various ways Otakon audiences can connect with the Library of Congress and its resources. The speakers will share some of the east-Asian treasures that are available on-site and online at the Library and how they can engage with these materials. The U.S. Copyright Office will provide information on how to create works inspired by our collection items without infringement and methods to protect intellectual property. An Otakon 2018 ticket is required for attendance.

The programming includes:

Wednesday, Aug. 8
11 a.m., Great Hall, first floor

Pop Up Performance
Visitors are invited to stop in the Library’s Great Hall for a performance from Japanese musical talents, The Washington Toho Koto Society. Tickets are available, but are not required. Visit this event ticketing site for more information. 

 

Thursday, Aug. 9
10 a.m. — 3:30 p.m., Whittall Pavilion, ground floor
“Anime for All” Display
This display will trace the history of Japanese graphic arts and storytelling into the modern day. Visitors will see examples of medieval picture scrolls, depicting legends of heroic monks and tales of anthropomorphic animals, that experts consider to be among the earliest examples of manga in history. Also on display are illustrations of yokai, supernatural monsters from Japanese folklore that inspire modern day creatures in manga and anime, and the woodcut figure of Hangaku Gozen, a historical woman warrior in full armor on a rearing horse. Fans of mecha will encounter the first English translations of “Robotech,” and enjoy the manga adaptation of Ghibli Studios’ “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.” Visitors can also explore how graphically represented stories evolved from religious origins into popular tales of samurai heroism and, ultimately, the modern day renditions enjoyed around the globe. No tickets required.

 

11 a.m. — 4 p.m., Young Readers Center, ground floor
Cosplay Workshop
Cosplayers will demonstrate how they develop characters. Families are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite characters. Free and open to the public. No tickets required.

 

11:30 a.m. — noon, Young Readers Center, ground floor
Cosplay Demonstration
Library of Congress Young Readers Center staff and cosplayers will give a demonstration on how to create a manga drawing. Families are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite characters. Free and open to the public. No tickets required.
NOTE: Participants must comply with Cosplay & Costume Weapons Guidelines, below.

 

1 p.m., Coolidge Auditorium, ground floor
Film Screening
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya,” a film by Isao Takahata. This film is rated PG. 

 

5 p.m. — 6 p.m., Coolidge Auditorium, ground floor
Kihara Hirokatsu, LIVE
Studio Ghibli writer, producer and director Kihara Hirokatsu will discuss his experience in Japanese anime production and the inspirations for his latest projects. Hirokatsu will give the talk in Japanese with an English interpreter. Free and open to the public. Tickets are available, but are not required. Visit this event ticketing site for more information. 

At sundown, north lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building

Film Screening
“Superman” (1978) (2017 National Film Registry)
Presented part of the Library’s “LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn” series. Attendees are encouraged to dress in Superman cosplay. Tickets are available, but are not required. Visit this event ticketing site for more information. 

NOTE: Participants must comply with Cosplay & Costume Weapons Guidelines, below.

 

Friday, Aug. 10         

10:30 a.m. — 11:15 a.m., Young Readers Center, ground floor 

Japanese Story Time
The Young Readers Center hosts story time for babies and toddlers about Japanese culture, featuring Japanese stories, music, and art. All children and teens under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Space is limited and is available at first come, first served basis.

 

Saturday, Aug. 11 

2 p.m., Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Library of Congress at Otakon *

Join Library of Congress staff members for a panel discussion about the east-Asian collections held at the Library. Panelists will share highlights of the collections, provide insights on the how you can access the collection items and share how attendees can protect their intellectual property.
* Otakon 2018 ticket required for attendance. For more information on Otakon, visit the site.

—–

Cosplay and Costume Weapons Guidelines

The following guidelines of the U.S. Capitol Police will apply:

 

  • Weapons and replicas of weapons are generally prohibited on Capitol Grounds.  Participants should not attempt to enter any building on Capitol Grounds other than the specific event locations while in possession of a fake or “Costume Weapon.”
  • Costume Weapons will be inspected by the U.S. Capitol Police prior to entry into any of the event locations.
  • For operational and security reasons, guests may not enter any of the event locations or pass through screening while wearing masks or with their faces covered in any way that would obscure identification.
  • Wearing masks on Capitol Grounds is permitted at the discretion of the United States Capitol Police. If directed, participants must immediately remove costume masks.

Geppi’s Entertainment Museum to Close After a Donation to the Library of Congress

In a mix of both bad and good news, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, a fantastic museum dedicated to comics and more, will close but Diamond Comic Distributors President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen A. Geppi has made a multimillion dollar donation of more than 3,000 items from his personal comic book and pop culture collection to The Library of Congress.

Geppi’s gift encompasses comic books, photos, posters, original comic book and comic strip art, newspapers, pinback buttons, and other rare, vintage pop culture artifacts including the original Plane Crazy storyboards that document the creation of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse.

Items are expected to go on display at the Library of Congress beginning this summer. With the acquisition of these items by the Library of Congress, GEM will close its doors in June. Its last day open to the public will be Sunday, June 3, 2018 from 10am to 6pm. Admission that day will be free of charge.

The Library holds more than 140,000 issues of approximately 13,000 comic book titles, dating back to the 1930s. The collection includes many firsts and some of the most important comics in history, including the first comic book sold on newsstands, the first comics featuring Batman and other iconic characters, such as All Star Comics #8, the first appearance of Wonder Woman. The Library also holds a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, the origin and first appearance of Spider-Man, along with the original artwork that Steve Ditko created for the issue. According to The Library, The Geppi Collection expands and enriches this strong foundation and fills gaps in specific issues.

The donation of more than 3,000 items is the largest donation of comic books in the library’s history. It includes a wide range of rare comics and represents the best of the Golden (1938-1956), Silver (1956-1970) and Bronze (1970-1985) 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.

The collection also includes motion picture posters and objects showcasing how music, comic book characters, cultural icons and politicians were popularized in the consumer marketplace.  Among these are Beatles memorabilia, a collection of flicker rings popularizing comic book characters and political figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Outcault’s The Yellow Kid printing blocks and the No. 2 Brownie camera model F from Eastman Kodak Company. The Library of Congress’ collection of comic books is available for research use by scholars, collectors and other researchers in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room.

Dan Jurgens and Paul Levitz Discuss the Enduring Legacy of Superman

Before Awesome Con, held in Washington DC March 30th-April 1st, the Library of Congress held a discussion with two comic industry legends, Dan Jurgens and Paul Levitz to discuss Superman who turns 80 years old this year. He debuted in Action Comics #1 which was released in May 1938 and a cover date of June 1938.

Levitz has held numerous roles within the comic industry including writer, editor, and executive and was the President of DC Comics from 2002-2009 and worked for the company for over 35 years in various roles.

Dan Jurgens is both an artist and writer who has taken on Superman numerous times, including the famous death, and wraps up his current run with the character in this week’s momentous Action Comics #1000 passing the torch to the next generation of creators in a way.

Before their panel discussion, I got a chance to sit down with the two of them to talk about their fondest memories of the character and what makes Superman so super to survive 80 years.

Graphic Policy: We’re here celebrating the 80th birthday of Superman. What’s your earliest memory of Superman?

Dan Jurgens: I always had that consciousness of Superman. My earliest solid memory was walking into a drug store, which at that point just had your general magazine stand, which had comics on the bottom wrack and buying at that time Superman #189 for 12 cents. That was my first comic book I ever bought. So that was my first solid memory of Superman. I knew who he was but that was my first tangible experience.

Paul Levitz: It’s amazing how you remember the physicality of buying comics.

DJ: Oh yeah.

PL: I think we all did in out generation. I think I probably experienced the George Reeves television show before the physical comics. The first time I had my own Superman comic was Action Comics #300 which my babysitter gave me to shut me up when I was five years old. It had a subscription ad, a dollar for a year of Action Comics. So I conned my parents into sending for a subscription and I had that subscription for a couple of years after that.

GP: Both of you have worked on this iconic character. How does it feel to have worked on a globally recognized character that means so much to so many people?

DJ: I think we’re reminded often at how iconic Superman is. The reality is as a writer or artist when you work on it, it’s a pretty solitary experience. It’s always somewhat alarming to see how you can do something that goes from the privacy of your office or studio and your privacy of your drawing board to become a national or even an international story. And that’s only because Superman is so iconic. And we get reminded of that quite often.

PL: You feel like you’re being made a custodian of something that’s precious to you and precious to other people. There’s a lot of characters you can writer where it’s a character. It’s a story. You can screw up their life some interesting fashion. You can change them in some fashion. Someone out there will care. But, they’re mostly going to care in a good way because they’re going to be curious, going to be interested, going to be excited by what you do. When you’re working with something like Superman that has survived so long, you know you don’t want to be the one to screw it up. You know what it meant to you and you want to hand it on to whatever is going to follow you hopefully in better shape than you got it and hopefully more successful than you got it.

GP: Is there extra pressure working with this particular character?

PL: Yes.

DJ: Yes.

PL: Yes.

DJ: Yes.

DJ: I know when I started on Superman it was as an artist and that was just fine and I could handle that. When the call came in from the editor at the time, a guy named Mike Carlin, he said “would you like to write a couple of issues?” I said “sure, no problem.” I hung up the phone and said “ok, now what have I stepped in?” I’ve never had that with any other character but there’s something about Superman that’s special in that way.

PL: I mean it’s the level of responsibility. Years ago we did a series of tv commercials with an animated Superman and a live Jerry Seinfeld for American Express. I remember sitting there and arguing with Jerry about a line for one of them that I wasn’t willing to approve. I’m arguing about Jerry Seinfeld about something. Jerry’s basically saying, “I know what’s funny.” And I have to say, “it’s my job to know if Superman would say that or not.” And, I was pulling on my collar the whole time. He loved Superman and was trying to be faithful but it just didn’t sound exactly Superman. You just feel that weight on you that you have to get it right.

GP: For each of you, who is the character to you? If you had to boiled him down to his essence, what would that be?

PL: He’s a guy who could have chosen anything but chose to do the right thing always. We’re all flawed, it’s part of being human. We do stupid stuff. We do stupid stuff in our professional lives. We do stupid stuff in our personal lives. We do things we look back on and think can I get a do-over on that day? And, here’s someone who’s really had the ability to make every choice in a way that could have been self-serving and very consistently chosen to do the right thing. That’s a very critical part of the essence of the character.

DJ: I agree with everything Paul said of course. I’ve written many lines in the comics where people speculate on what Superman’s life is like. They say, “he lives on a secret island with an incredible mansion” or something like that or all sorts of crazy ideas because it would not occur to most people that Superman puts on a pair of glasses, has a job, and goes to work and lives among them. I tried to actually to address a little bit of this in Action #1000. There’s a famous Superman story called “For a Man Who Has Everything.” The title of my story is “From the City That Has Everything” and it’s basically Metropolis saying thank you to Superman. How do you thank Superman? There’s nothing you can really do?

PL: *laughter*

DJ: What are you going to do? Buy him a car? Give him a vacation? I mean it really is that. In part of that story they talk about “we don’t know what sacrifices you’ve made on our behalf, but we know it must be substantial.” So, I think that’s something we try to portray. Even in Metropolis they understand that there’s this sense of moral integrity that is there and the selflessness that even though he doesn’t come out and say it people can understand.

GP: When the character started he was so different than he is today. When he began he was fighting slumlords and crooked politicians and today he’s fighting Brainiac and Lex Luthor. He’s changed over the 80 years a lot. What is it about the character that has made him enduring to last 80 years and survive such change?

PL: I start with the triangle. I think the Clark/Lois/Superman relationship was really the soul of the character that gave it birth. We all have our Clark Kent side. Whether we’re male or female. We have moments where we wish someone would see us, see the real us, what’s great about us, at least decent about us. Instead of focusing in on what’s not so great about us, focusing in on our insecurities. Jerry (Siegel) really captured that brilliantly. That’s been a very powerful engine that has made that character endure. Yes, that relationship has changed over the years, but that central triangle is really a pivotal piece of it.

DJ: I think there’s a couple of things. I think one reason he’s been so accepted is that he doesn’t wear a mask. It’s interesting. If we go back to the time, so many characters wore a mask. You look at Batman who in some ways is the polar opposite, and a lot of people recognize that, but here’s Superman and he’s so open. He’s so open because he doesn’t wear a mask backs up that idea of inspiration and hope and moral integrity. Whenever you see the Justice League assemble there’s two characters that aren’t masked and that’s Superman and Wonder Woman. There’s something about that, I think, is some sort of visual clue that’s laid out there that I’m there for you. I think he radiates that. When written well that comes through and that always endures.

GP: For both of you, is there one Superman moment that really sticks out to you? Maybe it’s something you’ve worked on or just something in general about the character?

PL: It’s experiential. If I had to pick a single moment it’s standing on the street watching Christopher Reeve pluck the cat burglar off the side of the building when I was a young man and they were shooting in New York. We were allowed to go and gawk at what was going on. I made no useful contribution to the first Superman movie. I was way too junior. But, to just be part of that was such an astounding experience.

DJ: I think when I was kid I read a story in reprint form, and Paul you can help me out here with the issue number, but it was called “Superman’s Return to Krypton.”

PL: Mhmm. I don’t remember the issue number.

DJ: At that time it was called a “three part novel from what I recall.” That meant the issue wasn’t broken up into a bunch of different stories. But that was the first time I saw, I remember being exposed to the idea that Superman had some sort of loss in his life. It’s basically the story about Superman getting back to Krypton and seeing the life he could have had and what his parents were like. When I read that I remembered thinking, and I was a little bit older because I read it in reprint form, but thinking that there is loss there. That’s kind of knowing someone personally. We see everyone on the outside and think their lives are great and then we get to know them and see that’s not the case. I saw that with Superman and that’s always stuck with me.

GP: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat.

The Library of Congress and DC Entertainment Celebrate 80 Years of Superman

The Library of Congress will celebrate the 1000th issue of seminal DC comic book series Action Comics, a commemoration of 80 years of Superman, with a live interview featuring DC legends on Thursday, March 29. Former publisher and president of DC, Paul Levitz, will join famed DC writer and artist Dan Jurgens, known for his work on the Superman series and the pop culture phenomenon “The Death of Superman,” for a conversation about the history of superhero comics, the writers and artists who create comics and the legacy of DC’s iconic Superman character. The event coincides with Awesome Con, which will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center beginning March 30.

Levitz and Jurgens will be interviewed by creator Michael Cavna, of the Eisner-nominated “Comic Riffs” column for The Washington Post. A question-and-answer session and book signing will follow.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 29, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free, but tickets are required.

The event also will be livestreamed on the Library’s YouTube channel. Follow the conversation on Twitter at @librarycongress and #LibraryofAwesome.

Guests will preview of Action Comics #1000, which features the DC debut of acclaimed writer Brian Michael Bendis, art by legendary DC Comics publisher and artist Jim Lee and stories from Superman writer Peter J. Tomasi, artist Pat Gleason and artist Dan Jurgens. Selected materials from the Library’s comic book and comic art collections will also be on display during the event.

In 2017, the Library welcomed visitors to explore “Library of Awesome,” a pop-up display of more than 100 iconic comic-book issues of today’s most popular characters. The collections of the Library of Congress include nearly 140,000 comic books dating back to the 1930s.

DC Entertainment will publish a new hardcover book, “Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman,” this spring as part of the celebration of the 1,000th issue of Action Comics—the longest continually published comic book of its kind in history, the series that introduced Superman to the world and the title that launched the superhero genre.

This “Library of Awesome” event is made possible by gifts to the Library of Congress Fund. Those interested in supporting free programs at the Library can contact devofc@loc.gov.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What are folks getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below.

While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

CBLDF – Library of Congress Exhibit to Highlight Women Cartoonists and Illustrators – We’ll definitely go check this out!

 

Reviews

Talking Comics – Batman: The Dawnbreaker #1

Herts Advertiser – Doctor Strange: Mr. Misery

The Beat – Ismyre

Newsarama – No. 1 With a Bullet #1

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