Libraries FAQ Homepage Librarians in Comics: Comic Strips


Comic Books

Compiled by Steven M. Bergson




(?) Adventures in Reading Starring: The Amazing Spider-Man. (New York: Marvel Comics, 1992?)
"Developed in conjunction with the Baltimore City Literacy Corporation" and advertised in Library Journal. I'd say the odds are great that at some point a library is shown somewhere in the story, given the pattern of such one-shot comics. I haven't actually seen this story myself.

Bates, Cary. "Who Is Invading Central City?" [1st story] Adventure Comics #465 Oct. 1979 (NY: DC).
The librarian thinks the Flash (incognito) is "a strange man" because he insists that he can listen to all of the audio tapes in stock in the 33 min. he has the room signed out for ("I'm a fast listener"). The drawing of the interior and exterior of the library is rather dull, IMHO.

On page 63 of Mike Benton's Science-Fiction Comics: The Illustrated History (Dallas: Taylor, 1992), he mentions that superhero "Captain Comet" (DC Comics) was a "mild-mannered librarian" in his secret identity, a fact ommitted in his profile in DC Who's Who.

Burns, Charles. "Doomed Marriage (?)" [3rd story]. In His Skin Deep: Tales of Doomed Romance [edited by Art Spiegelman and R. Sikoryak] (New York: Penguin, 1992).
A lesbian love story! The central character, not getting satisfaction (no explanation necessary ;) at home, goes to the library to do some pleasurable reading. She befriends the librarian who is courteous, helpful and friendly. She also looks like the stereotypical librarian (kinda old, a woman, bifocals), but...later on, when the husband tries to kill the central charac- ter, the librarian saves the day, shooting him and freeing the central charac- ter who realizes she loves the librarian. There's even a lesbian kiss. Now how often are lesbian librarians represented anywhere?

Batman: A Word to the Wise. (NY: DC).
Literacy promotion Batman comic shows a branch of the Toronto Public Library and has a librarian in it [at least they showed diversity by making her disabled; where are the men? 8( ]. I think it's a lame attempt that shows why not everyone is cut out to make educational/social issues comics. (For a fantastic example, BTW, check out the semi-autobiographical To the heart of the storm; it's a "normal" comic, but gives powerful messages about racism in our midst. It's available from one of the libraries in Montreal. For a good example of bad messages in a fairly good format, check out Chick publications - tracts available all over the bloody place).

Cadillacs and Dinosaurs Book 1 (3rd story). Reprinted from Xenozoic Tales.
No librarians in this one, but one of the main characters, a female scientist is taken by the adventurer Jake to a place that has a library in it. The people living there are uncomfortable with her being there. Towards the end, it is discovered that their fear is due to their concern that, once again, the knowledge of the weapon of destruction that caused the world's devastation (which the reader knows is the atomic bomb) will be learned again. They try to destroy the library in a flood, but Jake helps the scientist save it by clo- sing its steel doors.

Claremont, Chris. "Slaughter on 10th Avenue." Marvel Team-up #83 July 1979. (NY: Marvel).
Here, superhero "Spider-Man" can't think of where to find S.H.I.E.L.D. (kinda like CIA) HQ, until he remembers how highly the city editor rec- commended the woman at "the morgue" (what a dreaded name for a LIBRARY!). Good portrayal coming up, right? Hardly! She is showed as unattractive (nothing new), arrogant and rude. She does unrealistically remember the exact page number of the phone book he needs. Gee, I wish library school taught us how to do that. 8)

Conway, Gerry. "Reprise." Justice League of America #182 Sept. 1980 (NY: DC).
A former felon (Felix Faust) tries his hand at being a librarian, only to get possessed by the spirit of an evil sorcerer whose essence had been trans- ferred to a book in his castle. It is not explained why a seemingly ordinary library (Star City Public) has a special curator or acquires century-old books.

DC Comics. Reproduction of a pro-library comic ad in their Greatest Stories Ever Told (New York: DC Comics 1990), pg. 321. The message is don't read Green Arrow comics OR the book Robin Hood. If you like one, you'll like the other, too. So, read them both. A sophisticated approach, compared to what I read in Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom about the trading of comics for "real stories" initiated by American libraries.

Eisner, Will. "Mortal Combat." [3rd story]. In His Invisible People. (Princeton: Kitchen Sink Press, 1992).
Though, it is an anthology, all three stories have a common theme. The title refers to the way that in modern urban society most of us are "invisible" - nameless, faceless, unknown - to most of the people around us (neighbours, workplace associates, schoolmates). People like the homeless and the poor are easily forgotten and ignored. Some would say that Jews are invi- sible (because they are a minority) and others would say that librarians are invisible (people don't acknowledge us until they really need five minutes to closing, yet 8) Eisner combines these metaphors by telling a doomed love story about 2 Jewish librarians who are made even more invisible by taking care of their ailing, opposite sex parent. When her father dies, she seeks romance in a male librarian (so few of these shown) who falls in love with her, but can't abandon his mother. She tries to adjust, but the jealous mother makes life difficult, until, over the edge she causes an explosion (or was it an accident?) that has negative consequences (can't remember who lived or died, except the son lived, but was crippled).

The Evergreen State College Library Calendiary : featuring Lynda Barry's look at other libraries. (Olympia, Wash. : Evergreen State College Library, 1985).

(?) "The Girl Who Didn't Believe in Superman". (197?) Reprinted in Superman and Batman Annual (London: Brow, Watson, 1974, 5th story).
Superhero "Superman" discovers with his X-ray vision that Alice's blindness is the result of a piece of glass embedded behind her optic nerve. Since only he can see the glass, Superman (who is licensed to practice medicine) decides to operate himself. First though, he goes to the hospital's medical library, where he learns "everything about eye operations" in a few minutes. No medical librarian is shown.

Grant, Joseph W. Adventures of the Incredible Librarian = Aventuras de la Bibliotecaria Increible (Tempe, AZ : Preservation Graphics, 1990.) "Sampler, April 1990."

Hall, Allison. "Batgirl Was a Librarian." Canadian Library Journal 49 (Oct. 1, 1992): 345-3??.
Strictly speaking, not a source, but has a good overview of our image and does (briefly) talk about Batgirl. Also shows Allie in her Batgirl costume. (How many librarians dress up as other librarians on Halloween? "Who are you supposed to be?" "Melville Dewey, of course!" "Who the hell's that?").

Handman, Gary. Bibiotoons: A Mischievous Meander through the Stacks and Beyond. (Jefferson: McFarland, 1990).
Some likable stuff (like LC thought baloons for the "Oz" characters) and some stuff that's too long or not funny.

Hartman, Tim. The Amazing Adventures of Super Bard. (published in cooperation with the Dept. of University Relations, University of Pittsburgh, 1989).
"Mild-mannered prof" Stern Rosencrantz looks at an old volume of Shakes- peare's plays at the Hillman Library and encounters Puck (a faerie) who trans- forms him into superpowered Super Bard. SB tries to "save Pittsburgh from ma- laise and the summer of terror."

Hope, L. Agent Street. OH #7 (May 1994), pgs. 39-52 Reprinted in Sanford Berman and James P. Dansky (eds.) Alternative Library Literature, 1994/1995 (Jefferson: McFarland, 1996), pgs. 45-58.
An anarchist falls for Emerald Street, a lesbian librarian. Great line to a patron looking for the 'c' section: "before invitro births".

Lee, Richard. "You Can Tell Your Kid Will Grow Up to Be a Librarian when...": Cartoons about the Profession. (Jefferson: McFarland, 1992).
Some likable stuff (like prison library: "due in 1-10 yrs.") and some stuff that's too long ("My Story") or not that funny.

Lee, Stan "New York Public Library" (My Friend Irma) D.D. 5 p. in My Friend Irma, no. 11 (Oct. 1951) Begins: Where ya going, Oima? Al told Irma he'd marry ...

The Librarian. No. 1 (July 1988)- (Scottsdale, AZ : Preservation Comics)

Librarians for Social Change, no. 9
L f S C Comix : in this issue, the history of LfSC woman, unexpurgated. (Brighton, Sussex : Librarians for Social Change, 1974).

Library Comix. (Olympia, Wash. : Evergreen State College, 1987).

Maggin, Elliot "Who Stole the Gift from Nowhere?" (Robin) story 9 p. in Batman, no. 245
NOTES: Library story.

Milligan, Peter. "The library of souls." Detective Comics #643 April 1992. (NY: DC).
A library whodunnit. This was mentioned in American Libraries. A renegade male librarian starts killing people and classifying the bodies according to DDC. Superhero Batman solves the murders with the assistance of a librarian. Hmmm, why didn't he just go to Batgirl. She was a librarian, too.

Speaking of Batgirl, after the Joker shot her, she took a less active role. Now she provides what we'd call free reference services (usually in-depth and difficult stuff) to some superheroes under the name Oracle. Why didn't they just call her "SuperLibrarian"? (also see Peterson entry below).

Moore, John Francis. "Harvest of a Quiet Eye." Doom 2099 #13 Jan. 1994 (NY: Marvel). Reprinted in _Best of Marvel 1994_.
Brother Theodore, a librarian of a small Byzantine monastery, whose job is to keep the collection hidden from outsiders, is killed by supervillain "Necrotek" while trying to access information from a database. Superpowered "Doom" performs a successful database search ("cross reference visual search name and variations: nekrotek) which provides him with the spell needed to defeat Necrotek.

Peterson, Scott. "A Little Knowledge". Showcase 94 #12 (1st story) Dec. 1994 (NY: DC).
Oracle defends herself from vengeful stalkers. Pg. 13 recounts her life story: "[after her spine was shattered] I worked with what I had. From my days as Gotham's head librarian I knew how to find out whatever I needed. If I could do that for citizens, I could do it for colleges, non-profit corporations, private investigators and superheroes. Having been blessed with photographic recall, I studied a dozen newspapers, four dozen magazines and... the computer bulletin boards...Nowadays, I can do so much more as Oracle than I ever could do as Batgirl. There's nothing I can't find out. No problem I can't solve.

"Quiet in the Library" (Li'l Wise Guy) 1 p. in Atomic Mouse, no. 34 (Jan. 1960)
Begins: Pssst, Tommy!

Spiegelman, Art. "Words, Worth a Thousand." New Yorker Feb. 20-27, 1995, p. 196-199.
History and description of the New York Public Library Picture Collection, started in 1915 by library clerk Romana Javitz.

W. S. "Cold Fish Ladder: A Possible Origin of Marty the Dog!" In Alternative Library Literature 1986/1987, Sanford Berman and James P. Dansky (eds.) [reprinted from Gosky Comics].
Proposes that Morty was a disatisfied librarian who gave up the job to be a dog - an easier occupation. Among some disagreeable statements are "That guy [librarian] looks like he has an easy job", "in the front row [in a library school classroom]...were the people who wanted to be librarians since they were small children!...geeks", "Only the bibliogeeks in the first row survived [library school]" and "The [library school] professor liked books more than people".

Sacco, Joe. "Voyage to the End of the Library." Yahoo #3 (April 1990). Re- printed in Alternative Library Literature 1992/1993 pgs. 30-38.
Critique of library policy, user demand, workload and similar library topics, as told from the fictional library page-narrator's point of view. Funny, but at times, too harsh. I personally was offended by his stereotyping of science-fiction readers.

Sturm & Dikkers. Kimberly Crotchet, Librarian of Tomorrow (1988)

Van Horn, Penny. The Librarian (Seattle: Fantagraphics, 1992).
Reviewed in journal Libraries and Popular Culture. This story is about a librarian who is a cruel landlord on the side. The story is almost completely focused on his seedy life outside the library, making one question the appropriateness of the title.

Walters, Rocky. Howard Stern: The Unauthorized Lampoon #1 (Vineland, NJ: Concept Comics, 1994), pg. 10.
Stern sneaks into the public library after-hours to deface a book by gluing his photo over Marconi's picture under the caption "Inventor of Radio".

Wise, Ronnie W. and April Stewart. "Literacy Southern Style." In Archie and His Friends Help Raise Literacy Awareness in Mississippi. (Mamaroneck, NY: Archie Comic Publications, 1994).
In this first story, Veronica Lodge takes her friends to Mississippi to learn about what they can do to help people improve their literacy. Among the sights they visit is the Cleveland Depot, which "has been transformed into a division of the local library system" and is the headquarters of the local literacy council.

That's it, folks. Not much, but it's the only list I've seen (maybe I just don't do research that well 8) . If anyone doesn't have access to these sources, I might have them at home and can photocopy the requisite pages for .25 US/pg (.09 US/pg if I can use the university's copier). I plan to purchase whatever I don't have, but some of it's hard to come by. 8(

Compiled by:
Steven M. Bergson

With the acknowledged assistance of Chris Dodge and Sanford Berman (both of Hennepin County (MN) Public Library), Kivi Shapiro (University of Western Ontario), Norman Stevens (Molesworth Institute) and Randall W. Scott (Michigan State University Libraries).