Prolific Comic Book Collection Donated to San Francisco State

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
two comic book covers

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s … an original copy of Superman No. 1. The comic book is among 963 original, rare classics from the genre’s platinum and golden eras recently donated to San Francisco State.

Beginning this fall, students will be able to go up, up and away to the J. Paul Leonard Library to research this unique part of American art and culture. The Thomas Bentley Rue Collection of Golden and Silver Age Comic Art will serve as a valuable resource for the School of Humanities and Liberal Studies’ newly established Comics Studies program.

Rue’s estate donated the collection, valued at $45,000, to the University. In addition, Rue’s wife, Virginia, made a $5,000 donation to assist the library in purchasing necessary supplies to catalog and house the collection.

“The real materials — with staples, ads, all the things that someone handled 70 years ago — can now be picked up by our students and scholars,” says Assistant Professor Nick Sousanis, Comics Studies coordinator. “We see reprints of the more popular stories from the time, but they never include all the other materials that are lost to history. And here we’ll have that.”

Besides the original Superman, other highlights of the collection include the No. 2 issue of Plastic Man, 109 copies of Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, 127 Dell Comics in Four Color, 42 Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies and a handful of Captain Marvel Adventures. They span the 1930s and 1940s with a few from the early 1950s. Most are in good condition.

It’s not all superheroes and anthropomorphic animals though, Sousanis notes. “[The collection] expands our early picture of what comics offered in positive ways,” he says. “There are also books like Disney’s Song of the South comic in there that are useful, if difficult, to explore prejudiced depictions of race.”

Read the entire story on the College of Liberal & Creative Arts News Announcements.