Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed April 30, 1997
Contact: Linda Mahdesian

Comic relief

Brown University Library receives Ciaraldi comic book collection

The Michael J. Ciaraldi Collection of comic books and other materials, estimated to contain 60,000 items, has been donated to the Brown University Library. It is housed in the John Hay Library, corner of Prospect and College Streets.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Brown University Library has received the first installment of a multiyear gift of comic books, graphic novels and other materials related to comic art in popular culture. The collection was amassed by Michael J. Ciaraldi, an independent computer consultant and comic art enthusiast, from the 1970s to the present. When the entire Michael J. Ciaraldi Collection, estimated to contain 60,000 items, is transferred to the Brown University Library over the next few years, it will constitute one of the largest collections of comics and comic art in any American library. The collection is housed at the John Hay Library, corner of Prospect and College streets, in Providence.

The first year's installment includes 2,225 titles in 6,388 issues. It includes extensive runs of major "superhero" comics of the period, and is particularly noteworthy for the many titles published by the small and independent comic producers who flourished in the 1980s. There are nearly 300 graphic novels present in the collection to date, including works such as the graphic novel edition of Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat. The history of comic art is evident in the many reissues and collector's editions of classic "golden age" comics such as the first issue of Action Comics (June 1938) in which the character of Superman was introduced, and in the compilations of newspaper strips such as Prince Valiant and Terry and the Pirates.

The collection also includes work by influential "alternative" comic artists of the 1960s and 1970s such as R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman, author of Maus, and the comics and comic magazines influenced by the popularity of the French Métal Hurlant adult science fiction comics, which trace their inspiration to the French student revolts of the 1960s. It also includes many English translations of the Japanese "manga" and the "anime" comics, with their roots in Japanese animated films. There are, in addition, collections of British satirical graphic magazines, fan and collectors' journals, advertising ephemera, periodicals on animated film and film-to-comic "crossovers," adult erotica, role-playing fantasy game materials, Walt Disney characters and much more.

The collection will join and complement the Wayne D. Poulin collection of comics (10,000 issues), donated by Brown University Professor Barton St. Armand, and the extensive comic and graphic art holdings of the Miller Collection of Wit and Humor. In addition, the collection includes materials that complement the H. Adrian Smith Collection of Conjuring and Magicana, the H. P. Lovecraft Collection, the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays and even the McLellan Lincoln Collection.

The Ciaraldi Collection has been sorted and inventoried, and manual records for all titles and issues are available. For further information, contact Rosemary L. Cullen, curator of the Harris Collection, John Hay Library, Box A, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912. Phone: 401/863-1514. Email: [email protected].