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Will Eisner Week posterThis is your chance to learn about one of the greats of the comics world: Will Eisner. The library is celebrating “Will Eisner Week”—March 1- 7, 2014—with a series of events and an exhibit that will not only educate you, but entertain you, and hopefully enlighten you about one of America’s greatest writers and cartoonists.

On February 28, an exhibit featuring examples of Eisner’s work will open in the Reference Services area on the 1st floor of the Library Addition. Included in the exhibit are comics from the Word Balloons series created by SDSU illustration students. The exhibit will run through March 10.

On March 4, filmmaker Neil Kendricks will discuss “A Comic-Book Odyssey: Through the Paper Menagerie of Graphic Narrative to ‘Comics Are Everywhere!’ then Back Again.” Kendricks serves as film curator for San Diego’s Museum of Contemporary Art and is currently teaching a screenwriting class at SDSU. His documentary, Comics Are Everywhere, is currently in production. The lecture will be held at 2 p.m. in Room LL430.

The documentary Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist will be screened on March 5 at 1 p.m. in Room LL430. The documentary details Eisner’s story and documents the influence his career had on the world of comics.

Eisner created one of the genre’s most lasting characters, The Spirit, whose adventures were first presented in the Sunday newspaper comic book inserts that Eisner produced for select American newspapers every week from 1940 to 1952. After then spending several years running American Visuals Company, which produced instructional manuals in comic book form for business and government, Eisner revived The Spirit in a series of reprints starting in the 1970s. It was also during that decade that Eisner began producing the works that would cement his reputation; a series of “graphic novels,” a term that he helped popularize and that helped bring a new level of seriousness to the comic arts. As an indication of his lasting legacy, the awards given out at Comic-Con International’s annual ceremony to honor the best works in the industry bear his name: the Eisner Awards.

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Terl
Let me introduce you to Terl. He’s around 9 ft. tall and comes from a planet far away. For anyone who has seen “Battlefield Earth,” you’ll remember Terl as the alien portrayed by John Travolta.

Terl will be visiting us for a while, as he is on loan from Edward Marsh, the gentleman who donated our newest science fiction collection. Drop by the 2nd floor Love Library display case (just outside of the SCC) and make his acquaintance!

While you’re here, visit the extraordinary science fiction exhibit on display right now in the Donor Hall (1st floor of Love Library). Be here today at 2 p.m. and meet writer Greg Bear, an SDSU alumnus who happens to be a superstar in the world of science fiction! Greg will give a talk about sci fi and sign copies of his latest book, Halo: Silentium.

Here’s Terl, in all his glory:

Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities exhibitIf you’ve been in the library lately, you’ve probably noticed that the walls of the Donor Hall are covered with weird, wonderful graphics and the display cases are full of vintage science fiction books, Star Wars and Dune figurines, and other mementos of imaginary worlds far, far beyond the borders of our galaxy. “Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities” is the latest exhibit created by Special Collections, and it contains items from several of the library’s largest sci fi collections, including the new Edward E. Marsh Collection.

The exhibit features works from many science fiction genres: fantasy, utopian and dystopian fiction, early weird fiction, postmodern, and cyberpunk, to name a few. While the famous and familiar are well represented—Star Trek, Blade Runner, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Greg Bear, and H.P. Lovecraft—it’s the offbeat little gems that caught my eye. Shouldn’t everyone’s bookcase contain a copy of Judith Merril’s Galaxy of Ghouls, the subtitle of which reads:  A Handy Guide for Vampires and Werewolves of Spells and Sorcery of Switches on Witches of Shape-Stealers and Soul-Swappers of Demons and Damnation?

Science fiction materialsThere’s more to “Strange Data” than just books. The exhibit features pulp fiction, sheet music, and original correspondence from authors such as Isaac Asimov. Ray Bradbury’s unproduced screenplay for The Martian Chronicles and L. Ron Hubbard’s original manual typewriter are on display; both items were part of Edward Marsh’s generous donation. My favorite item in the exhibit is Jeff Wayne’s 1978 concept album The War of the Worlds, which was narrated by Richard Burton and contains the hauntingly beautiful “Forever Autumn,” sung by Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues.

Set aside an hour one afternoon or evening and take a look at this exhibit. It’s worth your time.

edward goreyArtist/writer Edward Gorey would have turned 88 today. Known for his melancholy, sometimes surreal but also amusing illustrations, Gorey produced an amazing volume of work during his lifetime. He is perhaps best known for illustrating editions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. Viewers of the PBS Mystery! series will remember Gorey’s eerie-yet-whimsical Edwardian-esque opening credits.

Blue Aspic

The SDSU Library has a large collection of Gorey’s work, thanks to SDSU alumnus Andreas Brown, who was a friend and benefactor of Gorey’s. The collection is housed in Special Collections and University Archives on the 4th floor of Manchester Hall/Library Addition. In fact, in spring 2004, the library presented an extensive exhibit of Gorey’s work titled “From Prodigy to Polymath: The Singular Journey of Edward Gorey.” The previous year, Special Collections featured a smaller exhibit titled “Poetic and Poisoned: The World of Edward Gorey.”  I’ve included a few photographs of the exhibits below. Brown also donated Gorey’s personal library to SDSU, and it currently is being cataloged.

If you would like to spend some time with Edward Gorey, view our catalog entries for the Edward Gorey Collection and select some you would like to see. The staff in Special Collections can access the items for you.

Display case from the exhibit "From Prodigy to Polymath: The Singular Journey of Edward Gorey."

Display case from the exhibit “From Prodigy to Polymath: The Singular Journey of Edward Gorey.”

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Display case from the exhibit “From Prodigy to Polymath: The Singular Journey of Edward Gorey.”

Display case from the exhibit “Poetic and Poisoned: The World of Edward Gorey.”

Display case from the exhibit “Poetic and Poisoned: The World of Edward Gorey.”

Display case from the exhibit “Poetic and Poisoned: The World of Edward Gorey.”

Display case from the exhibit “Poetic and Poisoned: The World of Edward Gorey.”

When something incredible has happened, you just want to share it! Here’s a terrific video about the science fiction collection donated by Edward Marsh. It was produced by SDSU’s Marketing and Communications Department.

You may have read the recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the world-class science fiction collection donated to the SDSU Library by Escondido resident Edward Marsh. If you haven’t, you should, because this is a pretty spectacular collection of rare books, art, and artifacts. Let’s just say that when I saw a fraction of it arranged on the tables in Special Collections, I felt like I was looking at the El Dorado of science fiction, comics, fantasy, and pulp fiction. It’s breathtaking. Most of the collection is from the golden age of science fiction, and most of the works and photographs are signed first editions.

Below are some of the photos I took when Special Collections held a preview.

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SDSU Library Receives $2.25M Collection (San Diego Union-Tribune, January 25, 2013)
Library Receives $2.25 Million Sci Fi Collection (SDSU’s NewsCenter)

Flamsteed's Atlas Coelestis

A hand-colored copy of Flamsteed’s Atlas Coelestis, dated 1753

You may have read in the news recently that a team of astronomers, including several researchers from SDSU, have discovered two planets orbiting a pair of suns roughly 5,000 light years from earth. Named Kepler-47, it is considered to be the first multi-planet system orbiting two suns (a binary star).

What you may not know is that the SDSU Library’s Special Collections Department has a remarkable collection of historic astronomy books and manuscripts, including works by Johannes Kepler, the German mathematician and astronomer for whom NASA’s Kepler Mission is named. The Historic Astronomy Collection also contains classic works by Copernicus, Brahe, Galileo, and Newton, to name a few.

The collection contains some extremely rare and valuable astronomy books that were printed between 1501 and 1650, including the collection’s crown jewel, Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium. Lovely hand-colored celestial maps and accounts and predictions of astronomical events also provide a unique glimpse at humankind’s early steps toward understanding the universe.

Take a few minutes to browse our celestial collection online or stop by and see these unique works in person. It’s worth your time. And speaking of time, the collection also contains a fascinating body of work on horology—the science of time-keeping!

Summer only appears to be a sleepy time around the SDSU Library. While you were away from campus, we’ve been busy!

Reference Services AreaReference Services Area Renovation
I have a feeling that Reference Services is going to be “the place to be” from now on. With its new carpet, paint, and comfortable furniture, it’s a functional—but attractive—place to study or relax. We’ve added more seating, as well as more collaborative learning and individual study spaces. Many of the lesser-used reference materials were weeded out—and replaced with online reference sources—creating more open space. More student computers were added, and we expanded the art exhibits. Tables can be rearranged to suit study groups, and portable white boards are available in various areas.

Comic-Con Kids
Around 40 years ago, an amazing thing happened here in San Diego: a group of teen-age comic book fans and an aspiring graphic artist pooled their meager resources and founded what would grow into Comic-Con International! It’s a story that should be told, and who better to tell it than the remaining members of that group and others who were a part of the convention’s early, magical years.

Early founders of Comic-Con, circa 1970With a $10,000 grant from the California Council for the Humanities, the library is developing an oral history project titled “The Comic-Con Kids: Finding and Defining Fandom.” The project will explore the emergence of comics, science fiction, and fantasy in the youth counterculture movements of the 1970s, with a primary focus on Comic-Con. Recording began on June 29, with SDSU student Jonathan Valdez interviewing Mike Towry and Jackie Estrada. The oral histories will be available to the public on a Special Collections-affiliated Web page that will also contain photographs, copies of original documents, and film excerpts.

SDSU Library iPhone App
Library assistant Tyler Rogers has developed an iPhone App for the library that can be downloaded from iTunes. With the app, you can view the library’s mobile catalog, see the latest titles added to the collection, find library hours on the go, view maps of the book stacks, browse the library’s book classification scheme, and send an email to the Reference Desk. Visit the SDSU Library iPhone App Web page to learn more about it.

The Papers of Richard AlfRichard Alf
Special Collections is the fortunate recipient of papers and documents once belonging to Richard Alf, one of the founders of Comic-Con International. Richard passed away in January 2012, and his mother, Martha, donated his collection to the library during the summer. The new collection, “The Papers of Richard Alf,” consists of approximately 20 linear feet of various materials and document types related to Comic-Con conventions, his comic book business and store, original art by Jack Kirby and Scott Shaw, and material on the Empire Sign Company and other ventures he was involved in.

Link+ Out, WorldCat In
As of May 31, the library discontinued its participation in Link+. Library patrons wishing to borrow books are now encouraged to use Circuit, WorldCat, or Interlibrary Loan.

Comic Arts Conference poster sessionComic Arts Conference Poster Session
Members of the library’s Comic Arts Committee presented a poster session titled “Comics, Comic-Con, and SDSU: A Symbiotic Relationship” on July 14 at the 2012 Comic Arts Conference, which is an academic conference held in conjunction with Comic-Con International. The presentation covered the library’s Comic-Con Kids Oral History Project, the work of the Comic Arts Committee, and the comic arts collections held by Special Collections.

Comic-Con co-founders Mike Towry and Richard Alf

Comic-Con co-founders Mike Towry (left) and Richard Alf (right) in the early 1970s.

Considering the mega-event that Comic-Con International has now become, it’s hard to believe that the engine driving its creation was a small but enthusiastic cadre of local teen-agers. But that’s exactly how it came about.

One of those teen-agers was Richard Alf, a San Diego native and son of an SDSU psychology professor. Richard not only had a galaxy-size knowledge of comics, he had three things his fellow co-founders did not—a car, some cash from an already thriving mail order comics business, and a genius for organizing. In 1970, he served as co-chair of what was then “San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Con.” The following year, he became its chairman. Richard eventually gave up his volunteer positions at Comic-Con, opening his own comic book store—Comic Kingdom—in the mid-1970s, and later branching out into other businesses. However, he remained a well-known and respected authority on comics and all things Comic-Con.

Richard passed away in January 2012 at age 59. His mother, Martha Alf, gifted his papers to the SDSU Library’s Department of Special Collections in summer 2012. The new collection, “The Papers of Richard Alf,” consists of approximately 20 linear feet of various materials and document types related to Comic-Con conventions, his comic book business and store, original art by Jack Kirby and Scott Shaw, and material on the Empire Sign Company and other ventures he was involved in.

At Comic-Con 2012, a session titled “A Tribute to Richard Alf” was held on July 13, honoring the late co-founder. Rob Ray, the library’s head of Special Collections, served on this panel. The program description read: “Richard provided business sense, funds, transportation, energy, hard work, enthusiasm, good cheer, and social vision that proved essential to establishing Comic-Con as a viable institution.” The Alf papers should help document how Richard achieved this, and they’re a vital addition to the library’s unique and growing comics collection.

More about comics at the SDSU Library:
Comic Arts Committee Web Page

Harold K. BrownCongratulations to Harold K. Brown, the library’s 2012 recipient of the Monty Award! Brown was honored at an April 14 gala dinner and awards presentation at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

Brown is a prominent civil rights and community and economic development leader. He is an SDSU alumnus (class of 1959) who later became the first African American administrator at San Diego State University. While at SDSU, he organized the Black Studies courses into the Afro-American Studies Program and, as an associate dean in the College of Business Administration, he established the college’s Center for Community Economic Development.

More recently, Brown was instrumental in establishing the Harold K. Brown Civil Rights and African American Experience Collection, which is housed in the SDSU Library’s Special Collections and University Archives Department. The collection is an exceptional, full account of the struggles and progress of San Diego’s African Americans as told through unique, digitized personal papers, photographs, and oral histories.

Sponsored by the Alumni Association, the Monty Award is a symbol of achievement and success presented to distinguished alumni from each of SDSU’s seven academic colleges, Imperial Valley Campus and Library and Information Access. Distinguished service awards also are given to an exceptional alumni volunteer and an outstanding university employee.

If you would like to learn more about Harold Brown or the Collection, please visit the links below.

Harold K. Brown Oral History
Harold K. Brown Papers
SDSU NewsCenter Article on Harold Brown and the Collection
Creating Community Online Exhibit