Saturday, July 7, 2012

My goals and the Library of Comics

The first comic I ever read was World’s Finest #102, “The Caveman from Krypton.” It was the spring of 1959 and I liked it. I fell in love with comics with “Challengers of the Unknown” #7 by Jack Kirby. Most comics did NOT have writing and drawing credits, so it was hard to learn who was producing your favorite stories. It would be years before I would learn the name Jack Kirby or find another comic that appealed me so greatly, "The Fantastic Four."

I wanted to read earlier stories and found out the origin of the Challengers, but could not.

What a different world it was then. There were no comic book shops, no computers with internet connections to contact other fans, no dealers with lists of old comics, no back issue stores, nothing.

There were no books about comic books and maybe a handful about comic strips.  You asked your friends and read the letters in the comics, looking for a clues of the history of the series you liked so much..  

I guess it is accurate to say then, that my Library of Comics, (not my actual comic  collection) began with the DC Annuals of the early 1960s and especially “Secret Origins.” Then came 1964’s “The Great Comic Book Heroes” and in 1970, Jim Steranko’s two part “History of Comics.”

Collections of comic strips were infrequent and often incomplete. Even the yearly publications of Peanuts left many strips out. There were volumes of Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, Dick Tracy and Buck Rogers in the early 1970s. Comic stores began to open in the mid-1970s, giving the graphic novel a place to be.

The biggest prize of the 1980s was Russ Cockrum's complete black and white sets of the EC comics, although that took 20 years to have everything, including Picto-Fiction.

About 1990, I saw, for the first time, DC archives with the first Batman and Superman stories.  Then Marvel began their Masterworks series.Finally the gates were opened at last. We  began to get complete collections of comic strips and reprints of comics from the Golden Age.

     I don’t really consider myself a “collector” but a keeper of what I have enjoyed.

As I read more comics I became fascinated with the history of the medium. This was during an era when very little was being reprinted. The very few books about the history of comics concentrated on the strips and almost ignored the comic books.

I like think of my-self as a researcher, student and fan, who is always learning.

Above are the two rooms of my "Library of Comics." They feature both comic books and comic strips. While I would love to have had the original comics of eras of the past that turns out to be too impractical and way to expensive.

Let us start the tour with comics from the 1950s.  These are collections of mostly horror, suspense and Jungle Girl comics from PS Publishing, with an older Frankenstein from Dark Horse!

 Below is another picture of the Warren books, Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. While they are from the 1960s and 1970s they fit right in with the 1950s horror comics.

Here are close-ups of the 1950s books above. 

The horror comics of the 1950s continues into the main room. Here are the complete Black and White Russ Cochran collection of EC comics and the newer volumes that are in color. There are other horrors here too.  And Archie!  Why Archie? Space, here, is really the final frontier, and it fit!

Next To the horror are the Marvel comics from the 1960s, 1940s and 1950s.  And even some above that!!! This also includes several comic strip collections.

The Second Marvel bookcase also features Masterworks from their 1940's Timely Era and their 1950's Atlas reprints.

On the bottom are the larger books, including many artist editions and larger comic strip collections

On the top are mostly Marvels after 1980.

Next to the Marvels I have a bookcase of books about Comic Creators.

The closet is where I have many of the comic strips collections:

Flash Gordon and Prince Valiant have a home in the other room!

Over the decades there have been many versions of the Flash Gordon and Prince Valiant comic strip in print. They have been different sizes, some in black and white, and some laid out as a comic book

I have two mobile unit also!  One is for comic strips.

 Kirby and Ditko have their own cart, with a few other series on the very bottom.

Now we get to the Golden Age and Silver Ages of DC, Fandom and Graphic Novels.

Graphic Novels, mostly old ones

DC Comics, first the Golden Age, then Silver and the Batman and Superman

A close-up view!

Peanuts, Pogo and the History of Comics

Rodolphe Topffer: "The drawings without their text, would have only a vague meaning; the text, without the drawings, would have no meaning at all. The combination of the two makes a kind of novel, all the more unique in that it is no more like a novel than it is like anything else."

In 1837, Topffer published what many consider to be the first comic book, The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (Les amours de M. Vieux Bois) which he wrote and drew. 

The history has a great man books on the subject of comics and many of these books are decades old.  There is Jim Steranko's History of Comics, The Penguin Book of Comics, Jerry Robinson's two books and many others.

The Spirit and Annie share a bookshelf

Oh, James Bond, 007, has had a long history in comics!!


  1. Oh great! There goes the neighborhood!

    Seriously though, best of luck here in blogville, Barry. What are ya gonna do with the other site? Contribute to them both?

  2. Welcome to the jungle, my friend.

  3. About time! Now it is going to be even more difficult to get you to do a guest post at one of my blogs!

  4. Welcome to the world of blogging! :)

  5. Hi Barry,

    This blog now added to my list, as well as CBCC. Have fun.


  6. Fellow Yancy Streeter! Welcome to the exciting world of blogs (like I need the competition!)

  7. ,,,and I'm sure my brother John will comment here more than on my own blog!

  8. An extremely (updated) impressive collection, Barry. It makes my collection look quite meagre by comparison. If you started re-reading them from the beginning, you'd probably need another hundred lifetimes to get even halfway through them. (Which, I suppose, means that you'd need two hundred lifetimes to get all the way through.)

  9. Man oh man, what a collection! I have a lot of them but probably only about half of what you're showing there.

    1. What great fun this is. Jim, put up some pictures! Cats too!