New Accession: The Brian Flota Comic Book Collection

This is the first in a series of posts about our new comic book collection – today we delve into the first steps: processing.

Last week while the students were out on Spring Break, Special Collections and Preservation staff took advantage of a quiet reading room to process our newest accession, the Brian Flota Comic Book Collection. Because of concerns over possible silverfish among the materials, the collection spent some time in freezer storage prior to coming into the library. Freezing cold temperatures assured that no live insects could make a meal out of this awesome collection! First the boxes sat within their freezer storage bags in the reading room overnight to acclimate to room temperature.

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Getting acclimated. Original boxes of comics adjusting to normal room temperature.

Empty comic book boxes waiting to be filled.
Empty comic book boxes waiting to be filled.

Once the materials were acclimatized, we began the process of arranging and rehousing the collection. The collector and donor, Dr. Brian Flota, kept his comics organized alphabetically by title, so we kept his arrangement to preserve original order. We went through each box to remove plastic envelopes and flag any items that may need additional attention.

Special Collections Librarian Lynn Eaton processing.
Special Collections Librarian Lynn Eaton processing.

The donor of this collection, Dr. Brian Flota, is the English Librarian here at JMU Libraries. He stopped by to check on our progress and point out some of the most interesting comics in the collection, and some that may pose a problem.

Donor Brian Flota and Preservation Officer Julia Merkel discuss the collection.
Dr. Brian Flota and Preservation Officer Julia Merkel discuss the collection.

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Two interesting finds! Elvis lives and Superman dies?

A Preservation challenge: What to do with this package of 6 full size Butterfinger candy bars from the 1990s that contains the first Simpsons comic book? We will remove and discard the candy, but save the comic and the packaging!

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The first Simpsons comic book.

Finally, we placed the comics in new boxes with dividers marking changes in the alphabet. The next step is to publish a finding aid with a list of the titles in the collection, and open the materials to research.

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Next: We look into the collection and find out a little more about the donor. Find out the earliest comic in the collection and how it all got started.

by Kate Morris, Special Collections and Digital Collections Specialist

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