Comic books and comic book memorabilia can achieve historical significance in a number of ways, but one of the more esteemed ways is by being added to the Library of Congress. And thanks to collector Stephen A. Geppi, the institution has just received its biggest donation of comic books ever.
The Library announced today that they have received more than 3,000 items from The Stephen A. Geppi Collection of Comics and Graphic Arts, which was formerly on public display in Geppi’s Entertainment Museum located in Baltimore, Maryland. The museum has closed its doors, and its contents will quite literally enter the vaults of history.
Geppi’s collection includes “comic books, original art, photos, posters, newspapers, buttons, pins, badges, and related materials.” Though they will no longer belong in a museum, the Library says that select items will go on display this summer. The collection is described as being in “mint condition” and contains rare items from the Golden, Silver, and Bronze age of comics.
One item of particular interest depicts the creation of Mickey Mouse himself — a group of six rare storyboards from the 1928 Disney film Plane Crazy. The film was the first cartoon featuring the Disney mascot to be produced, and the third to be released.
Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, said in a statement that “the appeal of comic books is universal,” and that they “are thrilled that this new addition to the collections will make them even more accessible to people worldwide.”
Geppi himself is quoted as saying, “When I began collecting comic books as a young boy and then in earnest in 1972, I would have never dreamed that a major portion of my collection would find a home at the Library of Congress, alongside the papers of 23 presidents, the Gutenberg Bible and Thomas Jefferson’s library. This gift will help celebrate the history of comics and pop culture and their role in promoting literacy.”
Geppi’s days as a collector are not over, as he says that he will continue to collect, and that he views this donation as “the beginning of a long-term relationship.”
Though this is the biggest donation of comic book titles that the Library has received, it’s far from the only one — it holds over 140,000 issues of over 13,000 titles that date back to the 1930s.
Geppi goes into a little more detail about the closure of the museum in The Baltimore Sun, saying, “As a Baltimorean, you might think to yourself, ‘We’re losing a museum,’ but Washington’s only 40 miles away — it’s not going very far.”
SYFY WIRE has reached out to Mr. Geppi for comment, and will have more on this story as it develops.