The Philadelphia Comics Collection Debuts in the Art Department

By Eileen E. RSS Fri, March 10, 2023

Are you an avid reader of comics, and of the age 18+? The Art Department is stoked to announce an exciting new collection for you to explore: The Philadelphia Comics Collection (PCC) is a living, growing, cutting-edge catalog made up of comics and zines by local artists, and you can take a look at them now! Many of these items are self-published and/or printed in Philadelphia. The collection currently contains over 60 titles of standalone works or anthology issues. Titles have been purchased (by way of Lot 49 Books and Partners and Son) or donated by library staff, the artists themselves, and readers who would like to share some of their old favorites with the public. The range of work you’ll find in the collection is quite varied, and you may find something you’ve never encountered before.

The Philadelphia Comics Collection lives on its very own shelving by the Reference Desk. Housed in several demure, gray box folders, these comics can be accessed with the assistance of a librarian. In a single box, you might happen to find a zine best read with 3-D glasses, a technicolor superhero hero saga set in Phuture Philly with a cast of queer hackers, or a comic about a worm who longs to grow a butt. As these works are often delicately produced, the entire collection is available for in-house viewing only. However, all of our comics are cataloged and barcoded with the most darling official label-and-stamping, you can check on the growing titles available in the PCC by taking a look at our online catalog.

If you’re a local comic artist or you have locally-produced comics you’d like to contribute to our collection, you can bring your donated comics to the Art Department, and we’ll add them to the catalog.

Dazzle your eyeballs with some of our current sections (and much, much more):

Blank Frames by Nicole Rodrigues

Blank Frames is a riso-printed work published and printed in Philadelphia (by Reptile House Comix and Who Press’d Press, respectively) in 2022. The icy blue cover gives way to dapples and shades of red and purple. Rodrigues is a spectral guide to their ever-multiplying, time-bending selves. Hair-bugs, bittersweet spliffs, and the bewitching forces of Stevie Nicks prance around into some other red darkroom’s dimension.

I Don't Know by Nora E. Luks

I Don't Know is a digitally-printed zine produced in 2022. In the artist’s own words, their zine “is a story about being confused, holding dualities, the water cycle, the ace of swords tarot card, and attempting to make tough decisions as gracefully as possible.

Reading through these smoky, steamy pages, I felt my squishy brain being pleasantly wrung out by their words, like one big cosmic belly button turned inside-out and in again. This is all to say, you might want to take a look at this one yourself!

Black Vans: Volume One and Black Vans: Volume Two

Both volumes of Black Vans are a “cyberpunk, superhero mash-up” created by Alex Smith and illustrated by James Dillenbeck, published in 2021. Set in the technicolored grit and grime of Phuture Philadelphia, this story follows its instantly affable lead hero, Bo, “a plus-sized gay bear of Afro-Latino descent who always seems to be messing up.” There is pharmaceutical evildoing afoot, and with his super, Wildstar, gone missing, Bo must wrangle his posse of hacker honeys before it’s too late! This series has battles, hookups, and Tommy Pickles-masked rogue – yum!


You’ll also find a two-volume riso-printed edition of Grip (Perfectly Acceptable Press, 2020) in our collection. Written and illustrated by Philadelphia-based artist Lale Westvind, this wordless adventure is jam-packed with movement radiating from the pages that’ll make your heart pound, ears ring, and your lil’ toe hairs stand on edge! This tale finds a woman who, after a curiosity-driven encounter with the otherworldly, she becomes a locomotive force. Bursting from her human form and the very panels of each page, be sure to shield your dear eyes when reading this epoch that’s hot to the touch!

As a supplement to this collection, we are also in the process of collecting relevant artist ephemera (stickers, show cards, and business cards, just to name a few) that can be viewed along with the comics. We welcome any contributions to this bonus pile of goodies.

In conjunction with this sleek new collection, our first meeting of Comix Club is later this month (Wednesday, March 29 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. in the Art Department). Additional details about our first meet-up can be found on the Comix Club event page. The general idea of Comix Club is to create an idyllic chill spot for those who enjoy making, reading, or exploring comics to gather and giggle and scribble and wax absurdly on anything comics. The Art Department has hosted events for individual artists like Colin Pezzano and Henry Crane, and Comix Club would like to continue to host special comics-related programming in the future. 

If you can’t make it to Comix Club on March 29, feel free to stop in anytime during open hours to explore the Philadelphia Comics Collection.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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