Monday, August 18, 2014

Brave New World


Photo courtesy Flickr

A local story about Action Comic Number One resonates on many levels. In an offer made possible only by digital communications, a Federal Way man who owns one of two pristine copies of the first Superman issue is putting it up for auction on E-Bay. A percentage of the sale will go to the foundation Robin Williams supported to help his friend Christopher Reeve. He and Williams were in the same class in acting school and had a pact that the first of the two to make it would look after the other.

The details of the valuation of Action Number One are on line. I happened across the story on a day I was rooting through an archive of works of art on paper. Paper is unquestionably the number two bother to conserve, right after textiles. Now I know why jade is so convenient. 

When I asked a special collections librarian if she wanted a modest donation, she assured me that things under her care would remain in the same condition as they were received. The DC story details the history of the comic title and makes immediate sense of the usually dry and technical language of paper conservation. It can be summarized as “don’t mess around”. 

Significant technologies often start as playthings. Firecrackers became artillery. A solar thingamajig from the science catalogues became electricity from the sky. The comic book generated the graphic novel, a powerful field of literature too new for me to have acquired informed appreciation.

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