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W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library: Comics and Zines

A guide to accessing resources at the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library.

Comics at UA Libraries

Other branches of the UA Libraries system also hold comic books, notably McLure Education Library and Gorgas Library. To find comics at UA no matter the location, search in Scout for "comic books OR graphic novels."

Selesky Collection

Holy treasure trove, Batman! The W.S. Hoole Library is home to a significant collection of comics donated by UA History professor Dr. Harold Selesky. The collection contains roughly 3400 comic books from the years 1941-1991. Many are superhero titles (these date no earlier than the late 1950s), especially from Marvel, although DC is also well-represented. The other major strength of the collection is in children's comics, featuring Disney and Looney Tunes characters, among others.

All titles are in the UA Libraries catalog and can be found in a Scout search. You can also consult the following list of titles.

Indian Comics from the Maxwell Asian Book Fund

Hoole is now home to a collection of over 300 Indian comics and graphic novels. Almost all are from the 21st century. 

They feature mythological and religious stories, most based in Hinduism or Buddhism, although there are a few works related to Sikhism and Jainism. There are also many historical characters and stories relating to recent Indian history. Common types include

  • Animal Fables and Jataka Tales
  • Birbal Tales
  • Stories about Krishna, incarnations and family
  • Adaptations from the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Panchatantra, Ramayana, Upanishads, and Rigveda

All have been cataloged and can be found via Scout. However, the easiest way to isolate this group of records is to use the Classic Catalog, where you can use Advanced Search with keywords Maxwell Asian (all of these, keyword anywhere), with the Location set to Hoole Library.

Sneed Collection

The Sneed Collection contains roughly 3600 comics, representing 1100 titles. 

Comics in this collection are more likely to be off the beaten path, anything from classic literature (Classics Illustrated and Pendulum)  to adventure (including war tales, spy thrillers, and Arthurian legend), science fiction, "weird" fiction, and horror. Also popular are non-fiction topics like history and science. The donor was apparently not a big fan of Marvel superheroes (for that, see the Selesky Collection), but there is a good amount of DC, particularly of the Elseworlds imprint, which puts familiar characters in alternate universes.

As these items have not yet been cataloged, inquire with Hoole staff to see if we have the title/issue you want. You can contact the Outreach Coordinator (kgmatheny@ua.edu) or the Reference Department (archives@ua.edu).

You can also consult a preliminary version of the finding aid, which is arranged by box. Use CTRL + F to search within that document.

Zine Collections

Al Andrews Amateur Journalism Collection, 1961-2009 (MSS.0016)

A very large collection of individually-produced fan magazines (fanzines or ‘zines), circular letters, and related materials, principally of science fiction fantasy subjects, named in honor of Birmingham native and science fiction artist, Al Andrews. See the finding aid for a detailed inventory of the contents of the collection.

Radical South Zine Archive (PM.005)

'Zines created by southern young women, on a variety of personal and political topics, including Art, Drugs, Education, Gender and Sexuality, Mental Health, Music, People and Society, Popular Culture, Race and Ethnicity, Religion and Spirituality, and Sex. Around 60 titles, 1990s-2000s. See the finding aid for a detailed inventory of the contents of the collection.