San Diego State’s Library Comic Arts Committee bridged the gap between entertainment and education at this year’s Comic-Con International on July 14.
“One of our goals is to create connections to other academics in the comics research community,” Comic Arts Committee member and reference librarian Markel Tumlin said.
The presentation included controversial underground comics and rare zines. Among those featured was Donna Barr’s collection of drawn books. The density of her content, as well as her artistry, is an example of what transforms comics from the general conception of lowbrow to highbrow art, according to head of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives Robert Ray.
“They have that underground and edgy content that really is the hallmark of the comics collection,” Ray said. “Which also has a focus on the drawn book, which is why the Donna Barr collection is so important.” SDSU alumni Dan Hager,who traded coffee with Barr for artwork, donated Barr’s rare collection of drawn books.
“I was in contact with Donna Barr, who was a favorite artist of mine. She was at the time trading art for coffee. She would send sketches and doodles and things of that nature,” Hager said.
Hager acted as middleman between SDSU and Barr. As a result, she donated an extensive collection of her work to the Love Library. Some of Barr’s works that were presented include the “Black Manuscripts” and her controversial World War II comic called “The Desert Peach.”
In conjunction with the presentation, Media Center Supervisor Michael Lapins played a DVD with interviews from some of the co-founders of Comic-Con, including Mike Towry and Jackie Estrada.
The project also paid homage to Richard Alf, another founding member of Comic-Con who passed away in January. Alf’s family is donating “The Papers of Richard Alf” to Special Collections and University Archives at SDSU. The collections are a series of documents and various materials relating to Comic-Con and Alf’s work. They are expected to arrive in special collections by late July or early August, according to Ray.
“The Oral History Project has an ‘obligation to his legacy,’” Lapins said.