There are two new displays in the Clark County Public Library foyer this month. Stop by and take a look at them next time you drop by.
On the right side of the foyer is a display of comics from days when comics were actually comic, funny, instead of sagas about sociopaths from both sides of the law filled with existential dread. There are examples of forgotten comic strips like Old Doc Yak, The Stone Age Family, Sherlocko the Monk, Polly and Her Pals, and Barney Google. Think of that, the most powerful search engine in the world is named after a scruffy old country guy. Isn’t it?
Well, no one can deny the social and personal influence of comic books. Classic in everyone’s image of childhood is the lazy afternoon under a shady tree reading comics.
In a fine book on the art and influence of comics called "Cartoon America: Comic Art in the Library of Congress" (call #741.5 973 Cart), there is a neat comic panel by revered World War II front line war cartoonist Bill Mauldin. It shows three kids on an apartment building rooftop. The youngest of the three has a sugar sack tied around his neck like a cape and he stands on the ledge of the roof looking down. One older boys says to the other “Better grab the kid. He’s been at them comic books again.”
If you’d like to revive some of your own memories of comics, head for the 741.5 nonfiction section of the library. The book I’ve just mentioned, "Comic America," is loaded with remarkable cartoon reproductions and interesting essays by Art Spiegelman, Lynn Johnston and John Updike. Another good history of comics is Brian Walker’s The Comics: Before 1945 (call # 741. 5 Walk); and a for those of you who like bests lists there’s "Paul Gravett’s 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die" (call # 741.5973 One). Not to mention individual volumes on classic cartoonists from Windsor McKay to Lynda Barry.
On the other side of the lobby is a display of two old Lionel trains. One is a replica of a wild west frontier passenger train called “The General.”
The other is an old Lionel military transport train, complete with submarine car, rocket launching car, an exploding boxcar (so the rocket has something to blow up) and a helicopter car that actually launches a toy helicopter. When kids contrived their own daring adventures instead of having them delivered digitally, comic books and trains provided unlimited resources for weeks of breathtaking fun.
Speaking of classics, at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, the Kentucky Picture Show film series shows one of the most superb movies ever made. Four words will tell you the title: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman. If you’ve seen it, you still need to see it again.
After taking December off to renew its writing juices, Write Local, the library writing group starts to meet again this Friday, Jan. 11, at 10 am in the library board room. Write Local is seeking new members, any genre or style. Adults 18 years of age and older are invited to join. Bring in a few pages of work to read and discuss with this very friendly and funny group of writers.
And finally, next Tuesday, Jan. 15, personal renewal gurus Angela Turner and Jennifer Mattern offer a Pamper Yourself workshop about how to create soothing scented bath salts to ease those January kinks. Ahh, nothing like relaxing in a scented bath and reading a comic book.
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