Robot 6

Send Us Your Shelf Porn

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Welcome once again to Send Us Your Shelf Porn, the only place where on the Internet where the term “porn” suggests something non-sexual and PG-rated. We think. For now.

Poor planning on my part meant I almost resorted to linkblogging (brrr) instead of highlighting some brave soul’s collection. Thankfully, mighty comics scholar and critic Michael Rhode came to save the day. For those who don’t know, Rhode runs the ComicsDC blog, which covers comic-related events in and around our nation’s capital. He’s also co-author of the Comics Research Bibliography, the exhibition and media reviews editor for the International Journal of Comic Art, and the editor of the book Harvey Pekar: Conversations, among other accolades.

But as nice as Mike’s collection is, he can’t keep Shelf Porn going on his lonesome. It takes the help of all of brave individuals like perhaps yourself, who aren’t afraid to flaunt their comics collection in front of all who have Internet access and know about this site. Simply send me pics of your shelves to cmautnerATcomcastDOTnet and you, too, can be one of the proud and few.

And now, let’s move on to Mike and his shelves:

Chris asked me to fill in with pretty short notice, so I’m just touching on three bookcases in my collection — there are a lot more and perhaps I’ll be another fill-in for him in the future. I grew up with Marvel’s 1970s-era Dreaded Deadline Doom in which, all of a sudden, the story you were expecting wasn’t there, and you were looking at some out-of-continuity comic, so I’m fine with that idea. I’ve got a pretty wide range of interests in comic art and have been collecting for a few years.

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This is a bookshelf that was formerly sacrosanct as far as not having comics, but we all know how that goes…

The top shelf still has remnants of its former life — some books I meant to read, some that have particular meaning (a great-uncle’s union-forming activities in In Transit, my grandfather’s copy of Lynd Ward’s Frankenstein, a leather bound Louis L’Amour from my father) while others are books that either I or my wife wrote parts of. On this shelf I’ve got a ‘complete edition’ set of the Harvey Pekar: Conversations book I edited – a proof copy, a paperback and a hardcover. I had to trade with a reviewer to get the proof. Some Jim Ottaviani snuck in up there too. The Robin Hood is illustrated by Frank Godwin, who also did comic strips like Connie.

The second shelf has what went on it when I moved the previous books on dinosaurs into the garage. Of interest might be the Richard Thompson cards of an Obama caricature (available on Cafe Press). The book on the far left, with a black dustjacket is Bryant’s Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Cartoonists and Caricaturists. This has basic biographical information on them — we really need a similar work for the US. Next to that is Roger Langridge and Jason so this shelf dates from an Small Press Expo when I got some of these signed by them. The yellow spine is Michaelis’ Schulz biography which anyone reading this column should have. Dark Horses’ reprinting of Harvey Comics has been popular with my daughter so I made some space so she could return to these — the Richie Rich volume seems to be missing though. The Schulz book, and Tomine’s Shortcomings, and Diffee’s The Rejection Collection point out a highlight in living in a city — these were all signed when the authors came to the Politics and Prose Bookstore.

Postcards is done by Jason Rodriguez, a local comics writer, as is Mr. Big by Matt Dembicki a slim volume next to it. Barefoot Gen, the story of surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima never appeared completely in English until recently — this is part of the set of eight books, I think. The Power of Angels is Herb Trimpe’s story of being a minister in New York after 9-11, and the Chris Ware book was bought and signed when he spoke at the local Jewish center with Alison Bechdel and Lynda Barry. I love the fact that you can now get so many comics I only dreamed of as a kid, so that explains Jim Aparo’s Phantom Stranger and the Marvel Masterworks Ant-Man/Giant Man. I’ve bought 98% of DC Archives and Marvel Masterworks because I never expected these to stay available for so long.

We cross the living room away from this shelf and go to the one that has the starting core of my collection, although it’s now largely hidden by accretions.

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Back before the current explosion of reprints and graphic novels, one collection came out a year. You can see the Origins of Marvel Comics by Stan Lee poking out — that was the reprint book for the year. The others next to it — Son of Origins, Superhero Women, Mysteries in Space (that one from DC) – are all similar collections. Also on this shelf are proto- or early graphic novels like Lee and Kirby’s Silver Surfer or the ‘computer-generated’ Shatter. Comics that I really liked back in the day (and still do) such as V for Vendetta, O’Neil/Adams’ Green Lantern, Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men, Gaiman’s Sandman and Moore’s Swamp Thing fill the back row. Also on this shelf are signed copies of Don Rosa’s excellent Scrooge McDuck collections, a few of my self-published projects, books by my friend Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson, a few knickknacks and a large collection of Rob Ullman’s art, which he sells at cons. He used to illustrate Savage Love for the Washington City Paper, but there’s a relatively tame coffee drinker showing (with a recent Chris Schweizer image tucked in front of it and behind the Iron Giant). Before we leave this shelf, on the top note All in Color for a Dime by Thompson and Lupoff and The Comic-Stripped American by Berger. Once upon a time, this was a significant part of the written history of comics.

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I’m an editor of the International Journal of Comic Art, and these have largely taken over this shelf, blocking a set of Marvel Masterworks and some DC reprints especially of Gaiman’s Sandman. The jewel cases are recordings of talks by cartoonists from Politics and Prose that they’ll sell you. The mug is by the great Keith Knight.

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This shelf takes us way back in time. Some of the earlier collections of comics are here – the 4-volume Disney set and Blackbeard’s Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics in particular. Great stuff, as is the Monster Society of Evil collection of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel on the far right. The Trigan Empire is a collection of a British strip — you used to have to work to avoid tripping on it, but it’s gotten rarer now, I guess. Empire next to it is an early Howard Chaykin / Samuel R. Delaney graphic novel. Asterix and Tintin are Franco-Belgian comics that everyone should read. There’s some great strip reprints like McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, Popeye and Tarzan. I’m glad to see all the current strip reprint projects because I couldn’t afford to buy sets in the past, but I can now.

There’s a British history book, 4th in from the left — Denis Gifford was a great collector who did a lot of the early work on cataloguing British comics. This is more wide- ranging The International Book of Comics. When Gifford died a few years ago, his collection was dispersed at auction. The Pink Panther toy is from my grandmother’s house — I used to hide it around the living room on her whenever I visited. On the next shelf, you’ll see a few things that won’t appear in the next image as I cleaned them out of the way including the Bone stuffed toy, a Tom and Jerry Big Little Book and a bunch of DVDs of comics movies like Trudeau’s Tanner on Tanner and the Italian Danger Diabolik.

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Here’s that shelf cleaned off — lots of older material here too. On the left, behind a Gaston LeGaffe toy wrapped in a mattress that was made by a French friend, is Batman (that’s an odd sentence). Batman always had a lot of books about him due to his mass media appearances. The Batman, Superman and Shazam collections came out in the 1970s and were great reading from the library. The three encyclopedias next to them for Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were the source of a lot of amazement to a 10-year old. Some classic comic books, comic strips and cartoonists come next. Of note are The Incredible Hulk, one of those ‘once a year’ books but 3″ taller just so it wouldn’t fit with the others, Michael Kaluta’s adaptation of Metropolis (with the stripes), Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein, the famed collector Art Wood’s Great Cartoonists and their Art, and photocopies of hard to find stuff like Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. You can see part of the bottom shelf although most of it is obscured with recent purchases waiting to be put away. There’s Trudeau’s fantastic Doonesbury, P. Craig Russell’s adaptations, the pulp hero The Shadow, and a bunch of works by comics historian Maurice Horn including a volume of his World Encyclopedia of Comics.

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It’s a small house, and this bookcase is tucked at the end of the basement stairs. Of note on the top is a set of ‘finger puppets’ from Richard Thompson’s Saturday feature ‘Richards Poor Almanack‘ which only runs in the Washington Post. Some more signed books are Stephanie McMillan’s As The World Burns, Ted Rall’s 2024 and John Kovaleski’s Bo Nanas – Monkey Meets World as well as some other books from SPX 2008. You’ll notice a lot of toys and the like on shelves too – I love the creativity of merchandising. One of the first articles on comics I wrote was ‘The Commercialization of Comics’ (IJOCA 1:2, Fall 1999). In spite of the opinion of Bill Watterson, comics spun off all kinds of licensing since the 1890s – Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore is a great place to see that type of thing. There’s a couple of toys from Ratatouille here too – I love about half of Pixar’s output. And be sure to check out the New Yorker cover artist Bruce McCall’s Marveltown.

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I’ve fallen behind on my Complete Peanuts again, but here’s the start of the set as well as Walt and Skeezix (aka Gasoline Alley) and Dick Tracy. Shannon Wheeler’s lamented Postage Stamp Funnies from the Onion lurks under a gift Super Hero Kit. Above that we can see a mixture — More Washingtoons by Mark Alan Stamaty, Jen Sorenson’s Slowpoke, Ward Sutton, the Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig, Mutts’ Patrick McDonell, political cartoonist Joel Pett, and as we move across the top piles, Edward Gorey and S. Gross, followed by a fantasy novel with a cover by Charles Vess, the Indian cartoonist RK Laxman, a Walt Kelly book, and under them, Mo Willem’s travel cartoons, Alison Bechdel’s awesome Fun Home, more Winsor McCay, more DC Archives, Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse, and some manga novels.

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Two shelves, one of which has a bunch of comic book novels. I’m a sucker for these. Around 1977, Marvel came out with a set of them and I loved them (I was 12. What can I say?) so since then I’ve been collecting them. Walt Disney’s Comics Digest used to be a reliable place to find great Carl Barks reprints. In the middle, near the Hellboy movie cup is minicomics from Ryan Claytor who does good autobiographical work. The bottom shelf has the authorized spiral-bound photocopy reprint of David Kunzle’s amazing works on early comics, more Ted Rall, Charles Addams, a beer bottle labeled by Ralph Steadman, Brunetti’s Graphic Fiction anthology, Preston’s The Artist Within book of photographs, and the exhibit catalog of the arguable Masters of American Comics.

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We wrap up with the reality of milk crates filled with con buys like Graphic Classics and Shakespeare comics … and hey, Richard Sala and Matt Madden. There’s Fantagraphics’ Crumb book which is too big to store easily, the National Lampoon on French Comics, and a bunch of mystery magazines (although the New Yorker is recognizable) in both crates. Faced with Warman’s Comic Book Field Guide (what is that?) and topped off with The Don Rosa Archives vol. II, Marvel Comics Guide to New York City and The Definitive Frazetta Reference because they all fit so well together.

Believe me, there’s more… but that’s it for today.

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Comments

2 Comments

Bruce D. Spruce

October 22, 2009 at 6:22 am

I love how your shelves are buckling due to sheer volume of materials. Love your gaphic novels. Seems the collections a little chaotic … B+.

Yes, the shelves worry my wife. Not me. I figure ‘how far can the stuff fall?’

The collection is very chaotic. It needs work. Those shelves in the basement were just intended as holding places, but are settling into permanence. Unfortunately other projects have intruded, and the sheer amount of material, good material, coming out each week is staggering.

You can see closeups where you can actually read titles on my Flickr page too – http://www.flickr.com/photos/42072348@N00/sets/72157622635760112/

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