Friday July 10, 2015

A Catholic Comic-Con

By Nichole Rustad

The Internet will be abuzz this week with news of the latest revelations from the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con. With panels on Batman v. SupermanGame of ThronesThe Hunger Games, and of course, the newest Star Wars movie, the huge popularity of this annual event shows how dominant comic books, superheroes, fantasy, and sci-fi have become in mainstream culture.

Many of the most famous comic books today, and in the past, focus on superheroes and other types of fantasy. Another genre of comics focusing on Christian themes has quietly existed right alongside these more well-known books, and we have a collection of them right here in the U.S. Catholic Special Collection in Roesch Library.

The U.S. Catholic Special Collection recently received a donation of Christian comic books from Harry Miller, a retired art professor who lives in Kentucky. The centerpiece of the collection is a nearly complete run of Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact comics. The Treasure Chest comics were published right here in Dayton, by Catholic publisher George A. Pflaum, from 1946 to 1972. The series was marketed towards children in parochial schools, and was seen as a way to indulge children’s love for comics, while also teaching Catholic morals and history.

The Harry Miller Christian Comic Books Collection gives a unique look at how Catholics and other Christians have adopted new methods of evangelization over the centuries. Like stained glass windows in medieval times, Christian comic books use pictures to help explain stories of the Bible and tenets of faith. Christians have always felt the urge to express their faith through art, and these comic books show one way that urge was adapted in the twentieth century.

To view the Harry Miller Christian Comic Books Collection, including the issues of the Treasure Chest, please visit the U.S. Catholic Special Collection on the third floor of Roesch Library. We are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and by appointment.

- Stephanie Soule, Collections Librarian and Archivist

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