The Knight Library comic book collection has 700 plus comic books that would have cost around $70 dollars in 1940 (10 cents per issue), but because comic books were meant to be disposed of and were under appreciated during the time, the total cost of the Gar Fox collection now is well over a couple hundred-thousand dollars. (Kenzie Yoshimura/Emerald)
On the second floor of the Knight Library is a temperature-controlled room filled with original manuscripts and photographs, some dating back to medieval times and some from just last year. In this mixture of rare and valuable documents lie about 750 comic books from its Golden Age – 1939 through the mid 1950s. Welcome to Special Collections.
In 1967, the first flow of comic book legend Gardner “Gar” Fox’s manuscripts came to the University of Oregon, with the collection being completed in 1980 with fan periodicals, Fox’s own periodicals, comic books he scripted and paperback books. Fox is famous in the comic book world for writing the original Flash, inventing the Batarang and having a significant imprint in creating other comic books like The Green Lantern and The Justice League of America. This collection of 700-plus comic books would have cost around $70 in 1940 (10 cents per issue). Now, the total cost of the Gar Fox collection is now well over $150,000.
Despite the high cost and the high risk of damage, James D. Fox, the head of Special Collections and University Archives, invites faculty and students to check out the collection of comic books and other manuscripts.
“We have to be careful with (the comics), because they are very fragile,” Fox said. “In some ways, they’re more fragile than some of our medieval manuscripts. We have to work a little bit with people to show how to handle them properly, but students have free and equal access to them.”
The comics are important to UO because the university is the only school in the country to offer an undergraduate minor in comic studies. This is why the collection has had notable donation like Gar Fox’s.
“When Gar Fox donated the collection, he understood his personal collection would have research value in the future,” Linda J. Long, the manuscripts librarian in Special Collections said.