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McCabe Comic Books Collection

The comic book collection in McCabe was a gift from Swarthmore alum Richard A. Lamb '88.


McCabe’s comic collection contains over 10,000 comics, donated by alumnus Richard A. Lamb, class of 1988. Richard started reading comics as a child and was an active collector for over 30 years. He donated a subset of his collection to the library in order to share his love of comics and graphic novels with current students, and to encourage students to read for the sake of pleasure.
The comics are located in the second floor periodicals lounge, and can be checked out at the circulation desk.

A picture of where the comic books are stored in the lounge

Zine cover: A History of McCabe's Comics, by Nooria Ahmed '22

A History of McCabe's Comics

by Nooria Ahmed '22

Historically, libraries have been opposed to comics. Parents, teachers, and librarians saw them as a scourge, saying things like:

"Virtually every child in America," he wrote, "is reading color 'comic' magazinesa poisonous mushroom growth of the last two years. Ten million copies of these sex-horror serials are sold every month. One million dollars are taken from the pockets of America's children in exchange for graphic insanity."

"Badly drawn, badly written and badly printed—a strain on young eyes and young nervous systems—the effect of these pulp-paper nightmares is that of a violent stimulant. Their crude blacks and reds spoil the child's natural sense of color; their hypodermic injection of sex and murder make the child impatient with better, though quieter stories. Unless we want a coming generation even more ferocious than the present one, parents and teachers throughout America must band together to break the 'comic' magazine."

I said nothing about my misgivings. Here in my own home was an example of what is happening all over America. Last Sunday we visited a large girls' camp. In the recreation building were two cases filled with public library vacation books, all the good titles, and I wondered why the shelves were full. After lunch we discovered the answer. We visited various cabins during rest hour, and what were the girls doing? You've guessed. Reading comic books. Not one of the girls who were reading had her nose in a library book.

Comics were incredibly popular with children and young adults, who frequently became collectors as they grew up.

The first ever student exhibit in McCabe was by David Boltson '82, exhibiting his collection of comics.

As far as we know, McCabe received our first comics in 2001: 350 issues donated by Greg Erskin '01, Ben Myers '01, and David Newman '76.

As a result, the Libraries promised to contribute $400 per year to continue building the collection.

In 2015, Richard Lamb '88 donated over 10,000 comics to the Libraries.

I've been collecting comic books since I was a 5-year-old in Jamaica. One of my favorites was Spider-Man. I liked to let my imagination go and lose myself in his adventures...

Most of what you can find on McCabe's 2nd floor was from his personal collection!

In 2017 Marla Peele, widow of comic enthusiast and librarian David Arnold Peele '50, donated his collection of MAD Magazine in his memory.

MAD started as a comic in 1954 before changing to a magazine to avoid censorship by the Comics Code Authority.

Looking to pick up a new read? Here are our recommendations:

Coda: Drawn with bright and wild colors, filled with pentacorns and mutant scorpions, Coda is the story of a nameless bard telling the tale of a fantasy world after the apocalypse.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: A comedy focusing on a CS Major with all the powers of a squirrel. Watch Squirrel-Girl navigate life, love, squirrels, defeating Thanos, and everything else that comes with college.

B.P.R.D. 1946: In the years after WW2, the BPRD is responsible for investigating the remnants of an occult Nazi plot. This introduction to the Hellboy universe features action, horror, and one very large demon with a teddy bear.

Ultimate Spider-Man: A reimagining of Spider-Man's greatest stories in the 20th century. First focusing on the teenaged Peter Parker, and later Miles Morales, the series features striking art and a strong supporting cast of heroes, villains and family.

To find more comics...

Search the comics in the 2nd floor lounge:

Search all comics in the tri-co via Tripod:

Search our zine library:

A snippet of the Alumni Bulletin feature on Richard Lamb '88, titled "Make Mine Marvel in McCabe"

Richard and the comic collection were featured in the Winter 2017 issue of the Swarthmore College Alumni Bulletin.

Interested in adding to the collection?