If you’re preparing your first scholarly presentation– replete with PowerPoint slideshow– a nice way to stave off existential panic is to take advantage of all the resources at your disposal. And, much as I am both honored and thrilled to have made the cut for this week’s 15th Annual International Comic Arts Forum, being held at CCS for the very first time, a slice of that thrill is founded in terror. Public speaking. To peers, faculty, and fellow academics. How very bracing! Aha ha.
So here’s a peek at how the Schulz Library collection has been helping me out:
While I absorbed an awful lot about comics history and the industry from my seven years in Dark Horse Comics‘s editorial department, and mainlined even more from Steve Bissette‘s torrent of information known as “Survey of the Drawn Story” last year, it’s important to have external sources cited. Not just for the sake of academic rigor, and to be able to point interested parties in the direction of further information, and even to correct slightly misremembered data, but also to have one’s facts backed up in the event that someone gets up in your grill. (Not that comics fans are known to do that, cough.)
My paper is on the rise of the zinester amid the death of print, so it’s been necessary to pull information from a broad range of sources in order to (hopefully) convey a macro view of the “interesting times” that the publishing industry is currently experiencing. From top left: Pop-culture historian and author Ron Goulart has written a number of nonfiction books about comics, and I was happy to find both his Great History of Comic Books and The Funnies: 100 Years of American Comic Strips in the Schulz. For quotes on the ins and outs of the business end of things, I found a couple doozies in Comic Books: How the Industry Works. It was written for the layperson by Shirrel Rhoades, who served as Marvel’s publisher from ’96-’99. The book is very design heavy, but its chapters on distribution and intellectual property were quite useful. For comics history in a nutshell, I found Stephen Weiner‘s Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The Rise of the Graphic Novel a handy (if imperfect) source. And I’d been wanting to check out Douglas Wolk‘s Eisner and Harvey Award – winning Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean since it came out from Da Capo Press in 2007. Wolk has an incisive yet appreciative bead on comics and industry trends, with lots of interesting and thought-provoking ideas, and is a marvelously swell chap to boot.
Finally, here’s a surprising gem of a book:
With a Wondermark bookmark peeking out
This book has absolutely no right to be as interesting as it is. It’s the 1961 fully revised second edition– the original was published in 1955– and from its appearance one would be forgiven in assuming that its contents are as dry as the Sahara. Happily, it’s quite the opposite– it seems that the Internets agree— and I’ve found it to be an absolutely indispensable resource on the spread of print and the historic business essentials thereof. In fact, I plan on tracking down my own copy at some point. Yes, this little baby is just that good, with illuminating page reproductions throughout, and Steinberg has his own list of key references at the back for further reading.
Plus, check it out:
So yes, a surprisingly witty read.
Finally, another phenomenal resource at our fingertips in the Schulz:
Yes, it’s what you think it is: The complete run of The Comics Journal. Issue #277, from July 2006– which I was directed to by Bissette’s aforementioned class– was especially instructive. If you’re curious about the history of the Direct Market, check out the link above for one of the articles or see if you can find a copy of the issue.
There’ve been far too many web resources to dig into in this post, but the above gives you a general idea of how handy and useful our specialized collection has been in this whole paper-writing endeavor. I’m off to draw more slides– and if you happen to be in the area, please feel free to check out my presentation this Friday at 2:30pm! Wish me luck. I’m excited to see all of the programming this weekend, especially the presentations by CCS faculty and staff.
[NB: Linked page does not distinguish between assistant, associate, and editor roles, so be sure to take the credits list with a large grain of salt.]