Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett talks about the portrayal of libraries in comics, and the appearance of another character from vintage comics.
I love libraries. Growing up they were a place of quiet refuge from a noisy world and an endless source of something else to read, especially when it came to books about comic books, comic strips, movies, etc. In short it was a young nerd's paradise which is why I've been complaining for a while now, often bitterly and to anyone who would listen, how often libraries are badly treated in the popular culture. Especially by creators of material intended for kids who rely on a little trope I like to call "the evil library"* (i.e. libraries are scary places run by people who hate kids and should be avoided at all costs). It regularly pops up even in Disney cartoons like Kick Buttowski (in the episode "If Books Could Kill" where Kick has to break into a library when an evil librarian won't return his book) and Kim Possible (in the episode "Overdue" where through no fault of her own do-gooder KP is late returning a book the evil librarian Miss Hatchet has her cheerleading activities suspended and she's forced to, gulp, work in a library as punishment).
Which seems to be exactly the kind of attitude you don't want to instill in kids, especially now when so many of our local libraries are being threatened with cutbacks and closure. We all seem to be willing to at least give lip service to the importance of education. I know I keep seeing these public service announcements about how we need to get 'our kids' more interested in studying math and science (not out of a love of learning you understand but so America won't fall still further behind foreign countries in these areas). Yet when it comes to kids entertainment not intended for toddlers there seems to be a benign neglect when it comes to promoting the love of reading and learning to kids.
Which is why I was so pleased to see the cover of Betty #190 -- and happily the library isn't just used for a symbolic cover gag. One of the stories "Sweet Treat!" is about how the library can be a fun place for teenagers. The entire issue features some really nice stories by George Gladir that feature strong artwork from Pat and Tim Kennedy, especially in the story "That's Not True." You'd think the Archie characters are so iconic they would, literally, need no introduction. But as the old saw goes "Every comic is someone's first" and this one has Betty doing a fun and efficient job of introducing most of the major players at Riverdale High.
Now as to why libraries should matter to any of you, with the recent announcement concerning the closing of an additional 75 Borders stores (see "Borders to Shutter 75 More Stores") more people will be going to libraries to read comics and libraries will become increasingly important for both publishers and direct sales comic shops. And if your store isn't already providing comics to one of your local libraries, you're missing out on a nice, steady revenue stream.
Doom Patrol #20 he accomplishes something that I don't think even Grant Morrison could; he's sneaked in a guest appearance by Super-Hip, a.k.a. Tadwallader Jutefruce, a sort of superhero who regularly appeared in The Adventures of Bob Hope. Even I had forgotten that the character had made a cameo during the wedding of Elasti-Girl and Mento in Doom Patrol #104 (the fact that both of these titles were written by Arnold Drake and edited by Henry Boltinoff was undoubtedly not a coincidence).
I was about to declare this was Super-Hip's only recent appearance but proving why every writer should do "research" (which I've discovered is completely indistinguishable from just wasting time on the internet) while putting this column together I learned that he also pops up in Batman: The Brave and the Bold #15. During a time travel adventure where he teams up with Batman and Brother Power the Geek to battle The Mad Mod, but sadly not the Mod Gorilla Boss.
On a personal note tomorrow I'll be leaving for Chicago (one of my all-time favorite cities) to attend C2E2. It's been a while since I've been to a con and hopefully next week I'll have some stories to tell.
* The line comes from one of my favorite TV shows, the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. A reoccurring plot involves fictional Pawnee, Indiana's embattled Parks and Recreation Department feud with the local library. Everyone in the office expresses their hatred for the library but the worst of the venom is reserved for the show's lead character Leslie Knope who declares the library "the evilest place on earth."
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by ICv2 on March 17, 2011 @ 12:03 am CT
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