1408635840295If Karen Green wasn’t a rock star comics librarian before last night’s opening gala, she is now!

So: the gist:
A few years ago, 2005 to be exact, the Ancient & Medieval History and Religion Librarian at Columbia University noticed a need for graphic novels to support the faculty and curriculum of the University. She began to systematically meet the needs of her patrons, while also selecting texts for the general collection.  (She says the collection started with 3 volumes.)

Then, in 2011, Chris Claremont donated his archives to the University.
This was followed by gifts from:

…among others.

But… Columbia has been in existence since 1754. What else might exist buried deep in the archives? In the rare books collection? Elsewhere in the University?

Well, quite a bit!

This exhibit collects an amazing assortment of items…  Lots of original art, rare books, correspondence… and ephemera as well.  (Yes, you not only see Wendy Pini’s Red Sonja costume, but her meticulous sketches and planning!)

Some highlights:

  • correspondence from Stan Lee to Denis Kitchen
  • a comics script from Jerry Robinson
  • original editorial cartoons from the Pulitzer Prize committee
  • the sketches and final art from the Al Jaffee fold-in Batman variant
  • the original art from Wendy Pini’s appearance in Elfquest (wow… the screens!)
  • Chris Claremont’s notebooks
  • The first page of the script to “Days of Future Past” (which includes some backstory I never considered before…)
  • an entire display of “proto comics”, including Ward, Töpffer, and Busch
  • William Moulton Marston’s contract for when he was a professor at Columbia
  • comics produced by recent students and alumni (WOW)

The highlight for me?  An “underground” comic (featured on the exhibition poster) from 1766, libeling a Kings College professor.  The plot?  He gets a female student drunk on spruce beer (yes, pine tree beer!), gets her pregnant, then pays for her abortion!  The comic was confiscated, and used as evidence in the college’s disciplinary action against the students!  You can read the sordid tale here.  (SFW)

The exhibition opened Monday, with a reception last night.  Here are some photos taken from the cheap seats, with a bit of commentary:

SAMSUNGChris Claremont, Karen Green, and Sean Quimby chat before festivities begin.  Mr. Quimby,  is “fresh off the bus” from Syracuse University, having just been appointed Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.  He gave his bona fides as a long-time comics fan, holding up a much-loved copy of the X-Men graphic album “God Loves, Man Kills”.  (Syracuse itself has a decent archive of comics artists!)

SAMSUNGChris Claremont gets the ball rolling, as each participant was given two slides and five minutes to speak.

SAMSUNGWendy and Richard Pini.

SAMSUNGAndrea Tsurumi

SAMSUNGAlexander Rothman, creator of poetry comics

SAMSUNGPeter Kuper.

SAMSUNGGregory Benton.

SAMSUNGSophia Wiedeman

SAMSUNGForsyth Harmon.  This is a boxed set of comics titled “Broken Up”, produced while she was a student at the Leroy Nieman Center for Print Studies at Columbia.  As at other art schools, comics storytelling is cross-pollinating with art techniques at Columbia to produce new and interesting work!

SAMSUNGTom Motley.  With Al Jaffee in the audience, Motley teased a double fold-in.

SAMSUNGRiaki Enyama.  Yes, that is her comic!  Using the Japanese Emakimono storytelling scroll tradition, she chronicled her experience as a foreign student at Columbia.

SAMSUNGPaul Levitz.  The Jimmy Olsen of comics professionals!

SAMSUNG…and, a teaser from Karen Green, of a forgotten cartoonist: Amram Scheinfeld.  What’s his story?  Visit the exhibition and find out more!

The event was recorded, and should be available online soon!


  1. Agreed, Karen Green should indeed be a Rock Star and I’m beyond glad she’s getting recognition for her long cultivation of comics history. I couldn’t make this event due to being in the studio but I certainly regret missing out on it! Here’s to many more ahead.

  2. Thanks so much, Torsten–what great coverage! I’m glad you had such a good time: I’m still floating…

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