Friday, November 12, 2021

Comics Scrapbook Offers a Window into Depression-era Kansas


Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library adds a unique bound volume of comics and hand-written poems to its collection. 

From Karen Green's (Curator, Comics & Cartoons) blog entry:

"RBML welcomes an exciting new addition to its collections: a scrapbook compiled by a Kansas barber named I. A. Persinger, who began the book in 1928. What began as a collection of Roy Crane’s 'Wash Tubbs' newspaper comic strips for the entertainment of Mr. Persinger’s customers evolved into a sort of historical journal, with notes and drawings from the barber and his customers. The book exists at a convergence of several academic interests, from the reading and reception of comics, to socio-cultural history, to Depression-era life, to the construction of social networks. It will also be of interest for students of outsider art; the way Persinger speaks of the sun and moon, for example, borders on the metaphysical, and is certainly philosophical.

"The book grew like the proverbial beanstalk: by the start of the 1930s, it had outgrown its original binding, continuing to accrue leaves until it reached 830 pages, over a foot thick and weighing thirty-six pounds. Most pages contain two 'Wash Tubbs' strips and, as the days and years wore on, became a place to comment on the state of the world or the length of the Depression, among a variety of other topics."


1 comment:

Brian Fies said...

I've been following Karen Green's posts on this, and it's a fascinating artifact. One thing that intrigues me about it is that, on its face, an old book with comic strips glued into it would be nearly worthless. But the annotations and sheer size and weirdness of the thing catapults it into something like Folk Art. It's terrific!