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The Joy of Reading Comics

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Image of comic books available for browsing in the Newspaper and Periodical Reading Room, June 2019. Photograph by Malea Walker.

With one of the biggest comic book collections in the world, we take our role of preserving comics seriously. Many scholars have come to study our collections to learn more about art and popular culture. But we also know that comic books are seriously fun to read! Which is why we’re now trying to make our collections more accessible.

Image of a table in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room where covered beverages, such as coffee, are allowed. 

Every comic book enthusiast that I know has a story about the first series that really hooked them, sometimes even as a young reader just learning to read. How did they find those first tantalizing pages? From a friend? Maybe. Or maybe it was by serendipity as they walked through a store. Either way, through serendipity or through highlighting our collections, we want to help you, especially if you can visit us, to find a title you enjoy reading.

In the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room, you can now find a selection of comic books to browse, just as we’ve always had periodicals and newspapers for browsing. You can come in, bring your coffee, and relax with a comic book.

For the more serious reader, we are also going to start pulling sets of comic books on different themes that can be easily requested. Our first sets are a collection of Captain Marvel and a collection of Batman comic books. See the changes in Captain Marvel from Mar-vell to Monica Rambeau to the modern Carol Danvers, and see Batman shift between the beloved bat hero and the mysterious Dark Knight.

Cover images, Captain Marvel (New York, NY). Clockwise from top left: May 2015, no. 13; Jan. 2000, v. 3, no. 1; Feb. 1994, v. 2, no. 2; Sept. 1972, v. 1, no. 22.
Cover images, Batman (New York, NY). Clockwise from top left: Aug. 1982, v. 43, no. 350; Aug. 1998, no. 557; Dec. 1967, no. 197; Aug. 2004, no. 629.

For those of you who can’t join us, here are some recent finds from out collections that you might be able to find at your local libraries:

Cover image, Birds of Prey (New York, NY), Apr. 2011, no. 9.
Cover image, Monstress (Berkeley, CA), Apr. 2016, no. 5.
Cover image, Princeless (Pittsburgh, PA), Nov. 2011, no. 2.
Cover image, Rat Queens (Portland, OR), Oct. 2014, no. 8.
Cover image, Saga (Berkeley, CA), Mar. 2016, no. 35.
Cover image, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (New York, NY), Mar. 2015, no. 1.





















What comic books would you like to see? Are you reading something right now that you would like to recommend to your fellow readers? Let us know in the comments!

Comments (2)

  1. I see no Western comics. I was an editor at Dell Comics in the 1950s, my specialty Westerns and miscellany (e.g., Hardy Boys, Tarzan) and I have held on to some. Interested or isn’t that your thing?

    • Polly, thank you so much for asking! We actually have a lot of additional comics for browsing that don’t appear in the picture including titles such as Gunsmoke, Bat Masterson, and Gene Autry and Champion. And the browsing collection is just a tiny piece of what we have in our collections! If you would like to consider donating any comics, or if you have any questions about specific titles in our collection, please do contact us through our Ask a Librarian page.

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