The first Cole's Funny Picture Book was issued in Australia with great fanfare on 24 December 1879 as the ‘Cheapest Child's Picture Book ever published’ and although many hundreds of thousands of copies are said to have been sold—each for single shilling—no surviving copies are recorded. Sales were unprecedented and the book was continuously in print for a century, delighting generations of Australian children and their parents.
As an employee of the National Library I am privileged to work with amazing materials that are being collected and preserved for current and future generations to appreciate and enjoy. My role in that process, as a cataloguer, is to ensure that you are able to discover those materials once they have been incorporated into our collections. What I am fortunate to see and hold in my hands, I need to describe in a meaningful way that also complies with our cataloguing rules. Of course, I also have a great deal of fun too, particularly with zines!
Rare, beautiful, historically significant or unusual works can be an inspiration and a joy to behold. However they are often either locked away in the hands of collectors or, if held by a public institution, might be so fragile they can seldom be displayed or loaned for exhibition and definitely not handled by the public. Digitisation has enabled images of some iconic illuminated manuscripts and other treasures of the bibliographic world to be made available for viewing online.
Was this an attempt to cope with those hot summer days in Victoria? A case of trying mind over matter in the days before deodorants? Although the name conjures up wonderful images of bowler hatted gentlemen in dark suits steadfastly remaining cool, calm and collected, or ladies in their long sleeves and many petticoats attempting not to “glow”, the League had a very serious purpose, and in one sense it was about perspiration.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that the following blog post contains comic book images that may be culturally sensitive and considered inappropriate today.
At the Library, we’re really proud of our Australian comic collections. Our local comic publishing industry is much smaller than in other countries, and many Australian creators are only ever published overseas, so capturing Australian comic history is a challenge and a passion.
Never in my 18 years of work have I stopped to seriously read the items I’ve been cataloguing … until now. What appeared to be a pile of unassuming documents not worth a second glance, turned out to be a goldmine of the most entertaining writing I have ever read.
The cold set in early this year, and our hibernation is not complete without an armful of books. I sent the request out across the Library calling for staff recommendations for winter reading—after all, books do lie at the heart of our work here.
I love 3D movies, amusement park attractions, and the occasional computer game, so imagine my delight when I discovered there were also 3D comics! Once again my favourite National Library collection was full of surprises and took me down a path of discovery.
The John Ryan Comic Collection is full of surprises! Have you ever heard of fotonovelas? Well I knew nothing about them until I chanced across one in the Ryan Collection and was captivated. I had to find out more, and my research has uncovered a whole new world for me that I must share. Hopefully I can open up the door to this wonderful world for the uninitiated, or bring back fond memories for those who already know and love this genre.