Carol Tilley

This is Circulating Ideas, I’m Steve Thomas. My guest today is Carol Tilley. She’s an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. Her scholarship focuses on the intersection of young people, comics and libraries. You can find her online at

Carol, welcome to the show.

Hey, thanks, Steve, it’s great to talk to you and, and get to be part of your project.

We’re going to talk probably a lot about comics today, but I wanted to start off with something else that, you’re actually the third person to be on the show who’s been on a game show. You’re the second Jeopardy person and I had somebody else who was on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. What was that like being on Jeopardy? It seems like a kind of librarian dream kind of job, like dream show.

You know, it really was kind of very dream-like. I entered the screening test, just kind of on a lark. I never watch Jeopardy all that much, but I’ve always been a trivia buff and I was amazed that I passed through the first round of the screening and second round of the screening and I waited nearly 8 months before I got the call to come out to California for the taping and it was a great couple of days, so even though I didn’t win, I, I made a friend from one of the other contestants and I had a lot of fun seeing how a show like that gets put together.

That’s great. Was that Alex with the mustache? Or without the mustache?

Oh gosh, I think without. It’s been, it’s been long enough. I have to, I have my framed photo of Alex and me at home so I could tell you later.

Well I think you’re, you’re mostly known in the library world because you’re… the subject of most of your scholarship has been comics. What drew you to comics initially? Like, not necessarily as a research thing, but what drew you to them as either a kid, or whenever you first got involved with them?

You know, I tell this story a lot and it sounds a little bit idyllic and maybe it is, but I grew up in a little town in Southern Indiana, on the same block as a public library and I went to the public library obsessively. I mean, even at age three I was there pretty much every day of the week, but even as a young kid, I loved comics. My dad, both my parents actually were children of the Depression era and my dad had grown up with newspaper comics and so we were always sort of sparring with each other over the, the funny pages in the paper every day. But, beyond that, I discovered really early that the drug store down the block also had a comics rack and I would go there on Saturday mornings and sit on the floor and read comics. I loved the ridiculous stories, I mean this was mostly Archie and Richie Rich and Hot Stuff and, and really kind of innocuous comics.

But, I would sit and read the comics and then I would usually buy one and take home with me and when I went to library school in the early 90s, I really began thinking about how I had been such an avid library user throughout my childhood and adolescence, but there really weren’t any comics in the library. I had to go somewhere else to get those and when I first went into the job as a high school librarian, I really began to wrestle with the question of “Why don’t we have comics in the library?” and sure, there were Garfield and some Peanuts and some odds and ends like that, but there really seemed to be this great separation between libraries and comics, and I was motivated by that, I think, going back into a doctoral program later, but going back to the question of how I got into comics, I think it was just part of my childhood, part of my sort of everyday family culture. When we would go to book stores, when I was growing up, I would always spend part of my money on the, the latest Dennis The Menace collection, or Family Circus collection. I was addicted to Bloom County and The Far Side through high school like a lot of people my age, so it’s just always seemed a natural part of print culture more generally in my life.

There’s been a lot of progress recently in comics making them more diverse to different, to women and to other cultures. Did you feel that when you were growing up? That you felt you wished that there were more women characters especially, being a woman?

Well, that’s really strange because I did read some comics that had women and girl characters in them, so of course Archie, even though Archie was the, the titular figure there, I mean there were, the Betty and Veronica comics. Peanuts had plenty of girls in the lineup, but for me, I grew up, the town I grew up in was very homogenous, it was 99.6% white and it didn’t really begin to dawn on me that the value of having ethnically, racially, religiously, culturally diverse characters in comics until much later and I think that’s just a, a factor where I grew up and sort of going out into the world and seeing what things, how things were so much different than where I grew up.

Well, let’s go back a long way in comics, since comics history is something of your specialty. So back in the, the, sort of the post, so Superman was sort of, came out in ‘38 and was the big boom for comics, for comic books especially. But after that there were lots of… not diversity in the sense we were just speaking of, but lots of different kinds of comics back then. Can you talk a little bit about that because I know, it’s kind of come that way again now where we’re getting, seeing a lot more diversity, but for a long period it was sort of you thought about comics and it’s a, comic books and it’s super heroes. But in the 40s and 50s there was a lot more going on.

Yeah, there really, there really was. I am continually amazed as I go back and, and read comics from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, just really, maybe not ethnic diversity so much, or racial diversity, but certainly diversity in storytelling, diversity in visual style. There, from the early days of comic books in the mid 1930s going forward, there was just this phenomenal array of different genres, different visual aesthetics, so you could open up a comic book early on and be confronted with a western, a mystery, a, sort of a gag comic, a pirate story, an adventure story, a kids-centered humor comic.

And as comics continued to diversify in the 1940s, you, readers would have found things like romance and horror and jungle comics and crime comics and supernatural stories, really just almost anything you could imagine, there was a comic representation of that and as I go back and read this stuff, it’s just, it fascinates me that so much of this dropped out after the, the Comics Code was implemented in the mid 1950s. And I really think that we’re just now beginning to see, in the last 5 to 10 years, a real push forward in the kinds of diverse storytelling and genre styles that we saw early on in comics.

And the Comics Code you mentioned came about due to some Senate investigations and one of their star witnesses is someone that you have written about quite a bit, Dr Wertham. Can you talk a little bit about what, about him and what his, what his point was. Cause, what, I’ve always thought is this was this, or least perceived rise of juvenile delinquency and so they were looking for a scapegoat and Dr Wertham sort of handed comics to them on a platter, but.

Well I, that’s, I mean that’s pretty much it, but I think that to, to get a full sense of things, it’s important to realize that even when newspaper comics were really first part of US culture going back to the, the turn of the 20th century and really the first decade of the 20th century, there were some immediate and incredibly visceral reactions against comics from teachers and religious leaders and mothers groups and cultural critics and librarians too and they saw these early newspaper comics as being coarse in terms of language and subject matter that they felt that they were too irreverent, that they would lead kids down the path of disobedience and illiteracy and a whole host of other bad responses, or poor behaviors and you see, beginning in the, around 1940 this same kind of sentiment arising around comics, comic books which were still a fairly new format at that time and you see early on some of these same style arguments that comics are going to turn kids into sex depraved maniacs, that they’re going to make kids illiterate, that they are going to be incapable of being successful civic participants in a democracy, that they’re going to start injecting all kinds of illicit drugs. You name it, the argument was made of, about comics in that regard and so part of that, I think, was just that this lasting fear of something new and something child selected, because these comics were really perhaps the first mass medium that kids could purchase and claim for themselves and I think that’s a really important feature, but there’s also this changing relationship to young people, so that because of the depression there are more young people who are no longer in the work force, they have more leisure time, more spending power and there is this perceived rise of juvenile delinquency that is driven by these kids with hanging out with not much to do and also I think these changing definitions of what constitutes juvenile delinquency. The rise of the car culture and all of that had an impact and into the midst of this fell Frederick Wertham who was a psychiatrist who was born in Germany and came to the US in the 1920s and eventually set up shop in New York City and he was really interested in forensic psychiatry and did a lot of work with the court system in New York and with the psychiatric clinics, some of the major New York hospitals and in the middle 1940s he began studying and working with kids and teens, many of whom had been remanded to him in some way by schools or by the court system because of delinquency issues and the thing that he began to see as he treated these kids and worked with them was that they were comics readers.

And that wasn’t, that shouldn’t have been a shock for him or a surprise because at this point in time something like 95 or 96% of all kids and almost as many teens were reading comics just all the, all the time, all the comics they could get their hands on. But Wertham saw this as a point of concern and he believed that comics were a, a type of media, a kind of presence in the lives of young people that were causing and generating harm because of what he perceived as an emphasis on violence. And sadomasochist sexuality and so he began to write and speak about the dangers of comics and because of who he was and because of where he lived in New York City, he had a, an eager and willing market for his viewpoint. He spoke to a lot of media programs and was interviewed in a lot of different media outlets. He was published in popular adult magazines like Lady’s Home Journal and Reader’s Digest and he purported to be studying the effects of comics on these kids he was treating and his authority as a psychiatrist and sort of the general fears that were creeping back into the public about the, the bad consequences of reading comics allowed his message to be amplified in pretty phenomenal ways for this point in time. Like he was sort of one of the, the early pundits, the kind of people that you would see on CNN or Fox News today. So, Wertham in the, in the early 1950s began putting together all of his anti-comic spots into a book called Seduction of the Innocent, which was published in early 1954 and this happened about the same time as the Senate hearing, so Seduction came out and the Senate hearings happened a couple of weeks after the fact. There had been earlier investigations into comics that the Senate had launched around 1950 and Wertham had participated in those as well so he was already known to them and, and the arguments were known because at this point in time there was a growing concern among many adults and professionals such as social workers and teachers and police officers that comics were creating and promoting a harmful environment for kids, so the end result of Wertham’s book and the Senate hearings was the comics publications came together to create the Comics Code Authority which was an editorial code, some people would call it a censorship code, that regulated the content of comics in a way that they hoped would stave off any kind of government intervention. And it, it did. The Senate sort of just said we’re not going to intervene and the Comics Code Authority continued until 2011, although with some modifications over time.

If we fast-forward about 50 years, there is, you are going to the Library of Congress to do some research on his papers, and what did you discover in his papers?

Yes. You know the thing is my earlier work on comics was really about the intersection of comics and kids and libraries because I wanted to understand more about how libraries and librarians were dealing with this enormous influx of reading material that kids were spending a lot of their free time engaging with. So, by 1940 and I know this is a little backing up a little bit, but by 1940 only a couple of years after Superman, comics were outselling kids books by a five to one dollar margin. And kids books were ten times the cost of comics on average, so this is a phenomenal number of comics that were being sold. And by the early 1950s it was something like a hundred million new comics issues a month being sold in the US. And so I really was trying to figure out how librarians were dealing with kids, sort of undermining librarian’s roles as gatekeepers of children’s reading and children’s books. And so in 2010 the Library of Congress finally opened up this storehouse, this amazing 200 boxes of materials that had been given to them by Frederick Wertham’s estate.

They had had it since around 1980 and for various reasons they had never opened it up to the public for research consultation and as soon as it was open I made my travel plans and I showed up at the Library of Congress because I wanted to see what was in the collection from teachers and librarians. I wanted to know what Wertham and these professionals had been talking about with regard to comics. And what I discovered after I went, by the time I was just there for a few hours, was that the stuff that Wertham was reporting about kids wasn’t wholly accurate, but in fact some of it was simply made up. He kept meticulous notes and you can see from the case studies he had of kids, from the therapeutic notes, from the correspondence and conversations he had with people, you can see how he constructed the book Seduction of the Innocent and I began to uncover this pattern of falsification and fabrication and just incorrect reporting about what he had seen and heard from kids. And that became ultimately to me a much more compelling story than the very small amount of correspondence that he seemed to have had with teachers and librarians. And I wasn’t really eager to write about the, these fabrications with the book. Wertham has not a great reputation anyway in contemporary society. His book, even in 1954 was viewed by many people as somewhat bombastic and just over the top in terms of its rhetorical style. There had been concerns all along about the quality of his, of his evidence and Wertham, by the time I was looking at his stuff in 2010 was largely viewed within the comics community as a, as this very caricatured overbearing German professor stereotype of himself. But, the more I looked at the documents in his archival materials, and the more I really thought about these kids, these very real kids whose, he was purporting to treat, I got angry and I really felt like I needed to write something to make it right for them, make it right for these kids. And so I did, I published what I thought would be a fairly un-read academic paper in an academic peer review journal about some of these evidentiary problems in Seduction of the Innocent and it turns out that more people cared about this than I could have ever imagined. Even after all this time.

Yeah cause I, when I was going back to do research for this interview, I was like that, that same story kept coming up over and over again. It’s on Boing Boing, it’s on New York Times, it’s everywhere, so…

I know, it was absolutely astounding and I, I remember when the, the story started breaking first from my university’s news service, and then from Boing Boing and some other sources. I was watching Twitter and I was watching a conversation on Twitter and it was, it was just like my research exploded in the Twitter-verse which was astounding. And I had people like Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman tweeting about it and I, this was just unbelievable for me as, I’m a pretty unremarkable in many respects college professor, former librarian, hanging out here in the mid-west, so that, that so many people cared about this was just, I found it incredulous almost.

Your initial research since you went there for, you said you were looking for the responses that youth services librarians to comics back then. Had you found any, and I know your dissertation was on that as well. Was, what kind of response, you didn’t find much in the Wertham papers, but what’s been your, what has your research shown about that? How did youth services librarians respond to comics back then? Sounds like not positively from you’ve said so far.

Yeah, well I think the, sort of the common sense understanding of, of their response before I did my PhD research was that youth services librarians and K-12 teachers in the 1930s and 40s and 50s universally abhorred comics and it is true that most of them weren’t very excited about comics. Comics were viewed as again all of the things I mentioned earlier, that they were gonna create a generation of illiterate sex-depraved kids, but what I found was a little bit more subtle than that, that there were teachers and librarians who understood the, the draw of comics, who really sought to listen to kids, who were willing to experiment, often in fairly minor ways, but they were still willing to experiment with comics in library settings, and I think that those sort of more positive moments with regard to comics during this time period are what have come important and noteworthy to me, that there were a few libraries that were collecting comics in the 1940s, typically just the publication True Comics, which wasn’t a well-loved comic among kids. But that libraries were still thinking about getting these materials into the collection early on, that there were librarians who understood that kids needed leisure reading that wasn’t a Newberry winning title, that adults had found escape in genre fiction of different kinds and so comics could be that kind of escape reading for kids, so I, I really value those librarians and teachers who were able to get past their, the more general approach, program directed at comics and see that there was something worth supporting and worth valuing there.

Well it seems like in the 21st century here, in the last decade and a half or so, that the gates have really opened in libraries to comics and graphic novels and a lot of libraries have them now. But do you still, do you still feel that there’s a bias against comics in overall library land? I mean I know that you’re working with the younger generation of people at this, at the library and information schools so hopefully they’re a little bit more open minded toward it, but do you get a feeling from the whole profession of how open they are to them now?

I think things have changed for the good in a lot of wonderful ways, so I’ve been, when I started back in the doctoral program in the late 90s, I started teaching different LIS masters classes, so I’ve, I’ve been teaching sort of the next generation of librarians for, for nearly 20 years now and I see consistent changes in the attitudes for the students coming through our MLIS programs. I think that we’re seeing now more master students who are comics readers, even though they might not identify themselves initially as comics readers, so I, I often, I think when people say the word comics, that there’s this impulse to think about superhero comics and sort of the DC Marvel style stuff and not everyone reads those, but when I ask my students about comics and I start saying well do you read, are there newspaper comics that you read? Or are there webcomics that you read, and I start throwing out titles, it’s almost 100% in many instances for students who are reading comics in some form. And so I see that as a real positive change. And I see that going out there are students who are so excited about doing comics related programming and building comics collections in libraries and I think there’s growing support for that in the workplace. I think that you can look around the US at libraries based comics cons, for instance, the, the Kids Reads Comics annual convention at Ann Arbor Public Library. There are other smaller library focused cons in places like Chicago and Elgin, Illinois and elsewhere. I think you can say that the tide is turning.

There is still some resistance and I see that more in school library settings than perhaps public library settings, but I think we’re over the hill, or over the biggest hurdle towards getting comics into the mainstream of what we do in libraries.

And do you think the, the objections that come to a, I mean it’s usually a lot of times it’s from, in schools it’s the parents and the administration and public libraries, it’s from the public, that it’s just comics are just more, I don’t know what the right word is, explicit? I mean yeah, cause.

Yeah, they’re, they’re graphic.

Right. Cause one of the examples that I use is you can read a mystery book or whatever, that might describe a sex scene, but that’s different than reading a comic that’s showing you a sex scene and it doesn’t seem like intellectually that it should be different, but then somebody when they see bare naked bodies, it’s, it’s different for them, so.

No it is. I mean the visual element is, is part of what makes comics so fantastic, and what makes them so scary for some people and I think that it is the, the fear there is going to be something “inappropriate” in comics for readers and I, I think the. I don’t have a, an intellectual, philosophical problem with parents or community members challenging library materials. I mean I think that’s part of what it means to live in a democratic society. I think that’s part of what we have to expect and encourage in library culture, that people ask questions about what we’re doing. But, I think that often when comics are challenged it’s, it comes from a, a misunderstanding, or about the role of library’s collections or about how the comics medium works. I, and I think that we do still have some, some room to be better about educating the public, about educating our colleagues about comics, about how to make good collection development choices, about how we shelve comics and promote them to the readers that we work with. The readers of all ages, it’s not just kids who are reading comics, it’s people of all ages and there are some comics that I don’t think should, would be well served shelved in a teen collection, or in a kids collection, that would be awesome in an adults, in an adult collection in a public library setting.

Right. I want to get back to a couple of that in a minute, but do you, do you get a, do you have a sense of when the tide really turned. Cause it seems like it was sort, for the mainstream culture of acceptance of comics, it sort of started with some DC stuff in the 80s, of Watchman, Dark Knight Returns and then Mouse winning the whatever it won, the Pulitzer.

Yeah, the special Pulitzer.

The special Pulitzer, yes. And then, so it sort of seemed like a snowball there, but it seemed like what really exploded it and especially into libraries was the influx of Manga, which came through book stores before it came to libraries. But that seemed to be what really pushed finally libraries into having big, huge graphic novel collections. Do you have any sense of anything different from that? Or do you…?

No, I think that’s accurate. For me, I mean I began to see some glimmers of hope around 2000 and then say around 2005 was the next big surge and then certainly since 2010, I mean I think that’s, we can say that comics have mostly arrived in libraries starting in, in 2010. But I think, between 2000 and 2005 was the first big broad wave of acceptance.

Yeah it seems like now it makes it, it makes it easier on libraries now to the mainstream big six publishers, big five publishers now I guess, are publishing comics now cause that kind of fits into our already work flows of working with them and working with their distributors, and. Cause I know early on it was kind of hard working with, and it’s still is a little bit I think with DC Marvel and things because they don’t think in terms of things being collected and so it’s like. I always look at our graphic novel collection and there’s five different things. It’s like Green Lantern #1 and it’s like well which one is it because it’s like volume 3, volume 8 and so it’s confusing to all the ways we want to do things and they’re not necessarily made in a durable format and they’re not easily reorderable, cause they kind of do one big print and then they’re done.

Yeah, no, I mean floppy comics and the mainstream comics, the stuff from DC and Marvel in particular are still really challenging, but I think we can take heart, we do have companies like Macmillan and Penguin and Scholastic who are publishing comics, sometimes through particular imprints and it’s not like in 1995 where if you wanted comics in your library’s collection you had to make friends with your local comic book shop. There’s still some value in doing that, I strongly urge my students to make friends with the, the folks at the local comic shop to figure out what people are reading in the community and to get their hands on stuff that might not be available through Baker and Taylor. But, yeah, there is, it is easier, we have review journals now that talk about comics, we’ve got ALA’s sponsored awards that, awards and lists that include comics on them, so I think we’re, we’re definitely moving forward in a good way.

And it, at the University of Illinois, you teach several classes about comics as well. One of them I wanted to get your opinion on, one of them is a readers advisory in comics. Can you talk about how you approach readers’ advisory with comics differently than just regular readers’ advisory, like a regular readers’ advisory class would cover it.

Sure, so I’ve been teaching an eight weeks comic, an eight weeks comics readers’ advisory course, that somehow is always really hard to say, for the past.

A lot of weird apostrophes in there I think too, so.

Yes, that, that as well. For the last four years I think and my approach to it is to emphasize both the, the wide array of age, audience age in comics publishing so that we look at a comics for kids and teens and adults that we look across different styles and formats of comics so that it includes web comics, it includes newspaper comics and magazine focused editorial, cartooning, and that we look at also different genres so that we’re talking about non-fiction and superhero and adventure comics and a whole host of other stuff.

But I think the thing that really distinguishes doing comics reader advisory from traditional readers advisory is the visual. And that it’s not enough to focus solely on the text story and the words and the dialogue when you’re doing comics readers advisory. You really have to get an understanding of the visual and artistic style, how the page reads, how it scans from that visual perspective because we are as readers attracted to and are repulsed by the visual as much as we might be the, the pace of the story telling, the textual storytelling, or the characterization or other things. Then all of that has to work together and I think that for many library students, even though in youth services we talk about picture books for instance and we talk about the Caldecott award and how picture books work and about using, asking questions around pictures with emergent readers, we’re still not very comfortable with stopping and thinking about pictures and about images and about that whole visual element that is so integral to comics. And so one of the things that we really focus on in the class is slowing down and being very intentional about looking at the page, about looking at the panels, about thinking about how to describe the visual style in terms of the same kind of appeal factors we might use for more conventional text based stories.

And you got a couple of other projects going on through the campus and I wanted to talk about a couple of them. One of them is you got an award recently to do a project called Children Comics In Print Culture. Can you talk a little bit about what the purpose of that program is? And what you want to get done with that?

Yeah, so this is a, a longer term project, although I’ve got some funding coming up for the next year that is going to allow me, I hope, to do a social history of what it meant and what it means to be a, a young comics reader in the US. So, if you think about the fact that comics was arguably the most important print culture medium of the 20th century, that virtually every kid who was alive in the 1930s, 40s and 50s was a comics reader, that is a phenomenal activity that we don’t really know much about. We don’t really know much about the experiences of those readers. And what they got out of comics and how comics fit in their lives and so I’ve been working the last couple of years to start recovering some of those stories and how kids played with comics and the, the fan culture that they produced around comics during this time period and so this project is really going to allow me to push forward with that and, and tell the story I hope in a way that is compelling and readable and does that generation of comics readers justice in speaking to and about their experiences.

Okay. And the other project I wanted to ask you about was one that you’re doing with a couple of other professors called the Comic Book Readership Archive. Can you talk about that?

Yeah, so it’s related in some ways to the, the children comics and print culture except that what we’re trying to do with COBRA, or the Comic Book Readership Archive is create a, a digital scholarly portal that will amass what we know about comics readership and this will be fan letters, the names of people who entered contests, the people who contributed to fanzines, the, any kind of fan related activity that we can identify through print. We’re trying to amass in this portal alone, we’re starting with the Marvel comics between 1961 and 1973.

Although our goal is to really look broadly throughout the 20th century and across comics publishers. And this will allow people like me and other comics scholars to begin to identify trends in readership, so who was writing and responding and reading horror comics, or were there geographical trends over time in readership or age trends. One of the things I’ve discovered going back to the 1930s and 40s, for instance, is that a lot of the comics that were coming out during this time period provided informal ways for kids to write to one another and to create an intentional kind of fan culture so you can go back and see lists of kids in Fawcett comics publications, for instance, who wanted pen pals in 1942 and what their addresses were and how old they were, or kids who were writing letters to talk about their favorite characters in a particular comic, or who were entering in a contest to win five dollars. And I think that this is really important because we don’t have good records for comics readership and so this is a, one way of getting at some of that stuff, who was reading comics, what were they reading, how were they participating, and engaging with comics over time.

Yeah and it seemed like that in the period Marvel does seem to be big on that, so I guess that’s part of why you chose that section there. Did you get access to some of that Merry Marvel Marching Society stuff?

Yeah. So, John Walsh, who’s at Indiana University in the Department of Library and Information Science there, he is a, a huge Marvel fan and so this was part, his, his idea for a place to start because he had access to a lot of the materials and because he was familiar with the publications during this time. But, he and Kathryn La Barre, my other collaborator, we have spent several days already at Michigan State University using the comics collection there to photograph some of the fan pages and the letters pages and go through stuff. Like the issues of the Merry Marvel Marching Society and Marvel Mania and a whole host of other fanzines that were published during this era. So, I think that we are not through, we aren’t through documenting even all of the Marvel related publications for that 12 year period and we’re already looking at something like 11 or 12,000 records, just to start.

Wow, that’s a lot.

Yeah. I know, it’s a little bit daunting. I mean I think we realized that there were going to be a large number of, of records to deal with, but not quite that many. So we maybe spending the next 20 years of our academic careers doing this.

You’re going to read a lot of Stan Lee I think, so.

I know, no kidding.

A lot of “Excelsior!”

Yes, but they’re fun to read and, and I have, yeah, so it’s a great way to, to be able to do scholarship, to, to have something that you find compelling, that you enjoy, that it’s a pleasure to get up in the morning and work with. I mean I find that with comics broadly, it’s, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to get to teach about this stuff, to research this stuff, to talk to people like you and Circulating Ideas listeners about comics, it really is very cool to be able to do that.

Okay, well I’m gonna, I’m gonna wrap up and I’m gonna ask you the question that you dreaded me asking you when we were talking before. What’s your favorite comic? Or if you can just give a couple of examples of what your favorites are.

Well, as I told you before we started recording, I have a really hard time answering this question, but I’ll tell you what I’m reading right now that I think is kind of fun. And I just wrapped up the first six issues of Gotham Academy. I don’t often read sort of the DC and Marvel stuff but Gotham Academy, Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher, are doing that series and I think it’s just a lot of fun, sort of Harry Potteresque in a way and I’m looking forward, I just got a copy of Dylan Horrock’s new book called Sam Zable and the Magic Pen and as soon as I get my grading done, that’s what I’m settling in to read.

I took my son to Free Comic Book day this year and we picked up a Tiny Titans thing for him, cause he’s four years old and then my daughter is eight years old and we got her Zita the Space Girl, I don’t know if you’ve…

Oh yeah, I love Zita, Ben Hatke does great stuff.

Yeah so that’s, that’s really their first comics so we’ll see how that goes. Besides…

That’s fantastic.

Cause I have a bunch from when I was a kid, but they’re not for four year olds and eight year olds I don’t feel, like it’s, well it’s superhero stuff from the 80s and 90s and it’s like a little advanced, I don’t want to, I don’t want to see them watch them punching people too much, so…

I understand, I understand.

All right, well, Carol, can you tell people how they can find out more about you online, where they can contact you?

Sure. So the easiest thing you could email me at You can visit my website which is, or you can find me on Twitter @anuncivilphd or @comicscrusader.

All right, thanks a lot, Carol.

Thank you so much for asking me Steve and this has been fun.

All right, thanks, bye.

Thanks, bye.


Well, see, now I can’t, I didn’t ask you why you’re an uncivil PhD, but.

That’s a really long story.

I’ll have you back sometime and you get to explain that story, so.

All right.