Happy National Comic Book Day! I follow the National Archives on Facebook and in honor of this auspicious day they shared some great treasures from their holdings. To see them click on this link: National Comic Book Day to see some of the comic books and related artifacts that they acquired due to a Senate subcommittee’s investigation into the posited connection between comic books and juvenile delinquency.
Comic books are a fascinating time capsule of American life. For a time, as the National Archives describes in its Facebook album, the comic book industry self-regulated itself to try to avoid running afoul of potential Congressional sanctions. This concern added to the comic book’s popularity and its simplicity in communicating messages is likely what contributed to the medium’s adoption of educating the populace. (Note, that this is my speculation.) Comics with Problems is a website that has gathered digital examples of comic books addressing social issues, health concerns, and child education from throughout the industry’s history.
Yahoo! News has these facts to share about comic books:
- The real success of comic books for the mass market didn’t begin until 1937 with the publication of detective comics.
- In 1946, comic book sales in the U.S. outsold traditional books.
- On July 20, 2006, the United States Postal Service released DC Comics Super Heroes. It was the first commemorative stamp pane honoring America’s legendary comic book Super Heroes.
- The world’s largest comic book collection belongs to the Library of Congress in Washington. It contains more than 6,000 titles, 100,000 issues, and grows by about 200 issues each month.
If you find you’ve lost those Calvin & Hobbes books you used to have or can’t seem to locate a newspaper and you want to participate in this great day, I might recommend a great comic book online compendium: http://kingfeatures.com/comics/comics-a-z/. But, that assumes you don’t have time to go to a comic book shop. After all, there are few things as wonderful or as American as a comic book shop. Full of bright-colored treasures and bursting with artwork and story lines, you will meet the widest array of people amongst the fellow customers and shop owners perusing the vast depths of American culture (and sub-cultures).
I, myself, far more enamored with the stories than the responsibility of taking care of the media, long ago gave up the regular subscription or collection of specific comic book series in favor of the collected book editions that I could purchase at my leisure. I occasionally regret this decision, because there is a unique sensation in holding the light-weight, brightly paneled, floppy comic book, accompanied with a multi-sensory experience… the smell of the ink, the visual fireworks, the sleek, smooth cover. Fortunately, I have a handful of older mini-series I have collected. From these I can still extract a comic book from its transparent, plastic envelope, held flat by the special white boards that protect the comic.
Be sure to enjoy National Comic Book Day–I know I will spend some time at the local shop in Federal Hill (Baltimore)! Comics are an important part of American culture. First snow day we get this year, I plan to take a break with my kid, drink hot cocoa, and read comics a la Calvin and Hobbes!