The display of the Robert M. Ervin, Jr., Collection of comic books is an overview of characters, some recognizable others not, that readers come across in comics. Comics tell different stories, from several points of view. This exhibition will take a thematic approach to comics focusing on the hero, villain, anti-hero and sidekick. Not only will it cover these personalities, but it will take on various areas, such as mainstream, foreign and underground representation of these personalities.
Comics began in the 1930s during the Depression era in America (8). They started as promotional materials for different companies, making the comic book something of a commercial asset rather than a form of entertainment or art. The works of Carl Barks’ Scrooge McDuck’s comics were entertainment for children, and on a more adult level they were a commentary on economics and class structure in America (11).
Comic book creators broadened the appeal of their product during the 1950s and 1960s as they tried to cater to a more juvenile audience by staying within a stable price range of 10 to 15 cents. Superheroes gained popularity. In Josette Frank’s article, “What’s in Comics?” he studies why comics are so enthralling for children and the general public. He points out that they are “stories of adventure” (Frank, 216).
This exhibition highlights tales of adventure in its four categories that show different character roles: superheroes, anti-Heroes, sidekicks, and villains. In each group are representations of mainstream, underground and international figures.
1. Chilton, Natalie, and Umberto Eco. “The Myth of Superman.” Diacritics 2 (Spring1972): 14-22.
2. Hatfield, Charles. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2005.
3. Frank, Jodette. “What's in the Comics?” Journal of Educational Sociology 18 (Dec. 1994): 214-222.
4. Jourdain, William F. “The Golden Age of Batman History” The Golden Age of Batman! 27 October, 2005. 4 November, 2005.http://www.goldenagebatman.com/gabathistory.html
5. Markstein, Donald D. “Robin the Boy Wonder.” Toonopedia. 13 February, 2001. 5 November, 2005. < http://www.toonopedia.com/robin.htm>.
6. Couper, Jonathan. “Spiderman Characters: Doctor Octopus.” SpiderFan.org 5 November, 2005. http://www.spiderfan.org/characters/doctor_octopus1.html.