A display of comic books at the San Diego State University library. Courtesy SDSU

By Luis Monteagudo Jr.

There may be a lot of comic books sprawled around the San Diego Convention Center this week for Comic-Con but one of the largest collections of comics and graphic novels is just up the road at San Diego State University.

Over the last several years, SDSU has amassed a collection of more than 50,000 comics, graphic novels and zines at its campus library. The materials have been donated over the years by alumni and others, but they have also been collected by Pamela Jackson, SDSU’s Popular Culture Librarian.

“In the last six years, the collection has exploded,” said Jackson.

The collection is used by the school’s faculty and students for projects. For example, history students use comics to explain how critical issues are portrayed in popular culture.

Pamela Jackson. Courtesy SDSU

“We don’t want to just have it,” she said. “We want to preserve it and use it in classes.”

But the collection is also open to the public and to researchers.

“Even if they’re just curious and want to come in and just see the collection,” said Jackson.

SDSU started its collection a few years ago with just 1,700 materials. Today, it’s one of just a few major universities in the United States with a pop culture collection. In addition, the library has rotating exhibits showcasing its collection.

The current one, “DemoGraphics: Voices and Visionaries from the SDSU Comic Arts Collection,” runs through July 31.

Jackson, who was making a presentation about the collection at Comic-Con on Saturday, said it makes sense that SDSU has such a pop culture collection.

“There is such a strong connection between Comic-Con and the San Diego community,” she said. “It just matters.”

Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast who has attended Comic-Con for more than 20 years. He has written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.

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