Monday, June 16, 2014

Librarians and Libraries in Comic Books

Almost everyone who has enjoyed a classic Batman comic book knows that Batgirl was a librarian. Working at the Gotham City Public Library, the superheroine put more than just wayward patrons in their place when she donned her bat mask.
No one ever suspects the librarian: Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, behind the info desk at her day job.
Image via

But you may be surprised to know that Batgirl isn't the only librarian to have been featured in the pages of a comic book. As a matter of fact, librarians and libraries are often at the center of the action in comics. For instance, there is Rupert Giles, the school librarian at Sunnydale High, in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book series. Then there's the X-Men's Karma, a member of the New Mutants who just happens to work as a librarian at the University of Chicago. In the Superman comics, the Man of Steel's biological mother is an archivist and librarian in the capital city's archives on the planet Krypton. And in the Rex Libris comics, there's Rex Libris himself; he's the no-nonsense head librarian at Middelton Public Library who goes after rebellious borrowers and "loitering zombies" alike.

Mychal R. Ludwig has come up with even more examples of librarians and libraries in comic books for an article he wrote for Admitting that his "current obsession of comic books [was] a vehicle for exploring this topic," he said, "I've gone through my own back-issue and trade collection and included an encouragingly diverse set of librarians and other info-workers." In addition to Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ludwig names Ms. Marvel:

"Here in a one-shot issue of Marvel Comics Ms. Marvel, this public librarian, a completely incidental character, is shown in perhaps the most stereotypical, and some would say negative, way possible. Shelving, older, a Caucasian woman with a tight bun, glasses, and a skirt; if only she told the boys to 'shhh,' then it'd be complete. I think we'd all agree this is the most enduring image of the librarian, unfortunately or not."

Ludwig also makes mention of The Walking Dead:

"In both the comic books and in the television show, our survivors inhabit a somewhat abandoned prison. Within it they find the prison library, full of books, magazines, DVDs, and all sorts of things they hadn't thought or cared about while fending off walkers. The sudden realization that they missed enjoying the fiction that the library offered, or by others, the information offered, really leads me to ponder quite often about the role of information, libraries, and librarians in a post-apocalyptic world. I'd read a book or comic book series that revolved around a librarian who provided survivors with vital information."

In his article, Ludwig also remarks on librarians and libraries that are prominent in My Little Pony, Six-Gun Gorilla, and more. Read it HERE.

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