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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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We all know what Comic-Con International is today: a mega pop culture event that serves as a dizzying gathering and show place for TV series producers, cosplayers, gamers, anime fans, graphic novelists, artists, movie industry wannabes, and, oh, yes…comic book dealers and readers. For it was a love for comic books that inspired the original Comic-Con, created and held together with hope and enthusiasm by a group of San Diego teenagers in 1970.

Comic-Con Kids WebsiteLest the modest origins of this four-day extravaganza become lost beneath the layers of glitz and time, the SDSU Library began an oral history project several years ago to collect the stories of Comic-Con’s remaining founders and early participants. The “Comic-Con Kids” project was funded through the Community Stories Grant Program from the California council for the Humanities. Funds from the grant made possible the new interactive Website that features the videos of the founders’ oral histories. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and block off a couple hours of time…you’ll want to explore and enjoy this site fully. In addition to the fascinating tales of early Comic-Cons told by Mike Towry, Greg Bear, and Scott Shaw!, additional resources are featured, including a page on “Comic Convention Memories.” Check it out!

To learn more about our “Comic-Con Kids” project, I’ve included links to recent news videos and articles at the end of this post. To get a quick taste of the interviews features on the Website, watch the video embedded below.

Fox 5 San Diego Report on the Comic-Con Kids Project

Daily Aztec

San Diego State NewsCenter

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.

Urban HipsterWere you one of the many who didn’t get badges to Comic-Con? No worries. If you want to see some excellent comics, science fiction, graphic novels, drawn books, and zines by A-list authors and artists, we have them in our Special Collections and University Archives Department.

In the quiet of Special Collections, you can enjoy works by Alan Grant, Roberta Gregory, Bob Layton, and many more without waiting in long lines, jostled by stormtroopers and zombies. We have 1st edition books by science fiction writer extraordinaire Greg Bear and boxes of fantastic original works by drawn book writer/artist Donna Barr.

And if you do have Comic-Con tickets, great! Get your photo taken with Vampire Bill. Check out the latest steampunk fashions. Then take the trolley to SDSU. Special Collections is located on the 4th floor of the Library Addition. If you want a glance of what’s in store for you here, visit the Comics Collection Finding Aid. To use our collections, you don’t need a badge. Dressing as your favorite anime character is optional.

The Desert Peach, by Donna Barr

This illustration of “The Desert Peach” is one of the many extraordinary works Donna Barr has donated to the library.

So you’re attending Comic-Con. You were wowed by Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; you checked out the engine in the Green Hornet’s car; you could swear you saw Bruce Willis hanging out with some stormtroopers; and you’ve bought enough new comic books to paper the walls of Hogwarts…four times over. Closing night is Sunday, and you feel like you’re just getting started, like you need…more. Well, my friend…there’s still a lot to see, and it’s not all at Comic-Con.

The SDSU Library has a fantastic collection of comic books, graphic novels, zines, and science fiction. Housed in Special Collections, many of these works are first editions or original artwork by such notable authors and artists as Donna Barr, Dave Bort, Greg Bear, and Roberta Gregory. Special Collections doesn’t have Jedi Knights, but they do have knowledgeable, enthusiastic librarians who can introduce you to some phenomenal works. Catch the next starship (trolley) to the SDSU campus and prepare to be amazed all over again!

SDSU Library booth at Comic-Con, 2006

Did you know that, several years ago, the SDSU Library had a booth at Comic-Con? In this photo, library assistant Jossie Chavez and author/artist Donna Barr discuss our collections with Comic-Con participants.

More information:

Donna Barr’s blog: The Midnight Library

Here’s a nice article Donna penned about the SDSU Library and Comic-Con (thanks, Donna!): Casting Off And Out To Sea

SDSU Library at Comic-Con in 2006

Donna Barr Collection 1963-2006 in Special Collections

Elizabeth Chater Collection of Science Fiction

West Coast Zines

Comics Collection