Tuesday, April 3, 2007

It's like the Library of Babel, for comics!

Well, not really, but this is some really cool news:
HICKSVILLE, NZ -- The sleepy little town of Hicksville has achieved some minor notoriety as the hometown of superstar cartoonist Dick Burger, and as a place whose inhabitants have an unusual passion for comics. But up until now, few have been privy to Hicksville's other claim to fame: the town's lighthouse holds the world's largest collection of rare and unique comics. In the basement of the lighthouse are untold hundreds of forgotten comics masterpieces, works which are available nowhere else and which most people don't know exist.

For two centuries, visiting Hicksville's secret library has been a rite of passage for the few great cartoonists who were privy to its secret. They have gone there to read works like Kurtzman's epic History of War; Wally Wood's complete 600-page magnum opus Kingdom of Sorcery; and The Dream and Life of Franco, by Federico Garcia Lorca and Pablo Picasso.

But now, as a result of a generous donation from the Department of Comicology at the University of Eastern Australia, the entire holdings of the Hicksville secret comics library will soon be digitized and made freely available on the Internet. Readers will finally have access to the other history of comics: the unpublished masterworks that would have been the common heritage of all comics fans, if it were not for the lack of publishers willing to take comics seriously.

While a full catalogue of the library's holdings has yet to be compiled, it is believed that the collection includes unpublished works by such luminaries as Herge, Hokusai, Winsor McCay, Jack Cole, Herge, Mort Molson, Yves Chaland, Henry Darger, Diego Rivera, Lester Coles, and Ichiro Higashi.

"Previously, the library had been inaccessible for religious reasons," head librarian Wiremu Kupe said on Wednesday. "But now that those difficulties have been resolved, we are overjoyed to be able to share this priceless resource with the world. The digitization of our library holdings will represent a quantum leap in the field of comics studies."

Further details will be available shortly.
That's pretty sweet. The thread that the above link leads to has some discussion about what might be contained in this library. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more news about this. And any comments here about what you would like to read in this library are welcome.

UPDATE: See comments for clarification of this story.