Friday, February 22, 2013

#15 Mount Pleasant Branch

Mount Pleasant Branch
1 Kingsway

This is one of the library branches that is new since last time I lived in Vancouver. I couldn't find it the first time I looked because I thought it was still in a nearby stripmall!

It's now located in the much nicer community centre place that features various fitness things (including a climbing wall), child care services, and some other stuff. But clearly the most important (ie. only thing I went to) is the library itself!

The library contains all the things you want: computers, graphic novels, presumably some books somewhere, and a library discard cart! Yes, that all important place where libraries sell books that they've either decided to stop circulating for a myriad of reasons, or things that people have donated that the library doesn't actually want.

I always look at discard carts at libraries because, despite not really wanting to own any books (I keep giving them away after I've read them), and despite being in a building that will give me books for free, I still need to see what is available. It is like some sort of disease. This time I hit pay dirt and found an incredibly awesome/bizarre book that cost me an entire 33 cents (ie. all the change I had on me at the time): The Dredd Phenomenon - Comics and Contemporary Society by John Newsinger.

Yes! A book about Judge Dredd and British politics published in the late 1990s. What library wouldn't want a copy of this? Apparently the VPL, as this was never even catalogued. Still, their loss was my gain! I have been on a Judge Dredd/2000ad kick since the movie came out last fall (or even longer?). I keep listening to both the soundtrack from the movie and the fictional soundtrack created by one of the people from Portishead, recently bought some back issues and collections from a comic book shop's going out of business sale, and keep trawling through the library's catalogue to find more. (If you're at all interested in reading about Judge Dredd you should check out this incredibly exhaustive blog that just recently came to completion.)

If you've read...well, basically any other book about comics ever, you might find The Dredd Phenomenon a bit strange. It begins by discussing Thatcherite Britain and the rise of "New Labour" for several pages before comics are even mentioned. After that it doesn't even come as a surprise that the other books the publisher have released include ones on progressive politics and alternative forms of education, and that the author is apparently a professor of Marxist history.

The book is a politicized look at the history of the UK comics scene, 2000ad and Judge Dredd in particular, other works by popular UK creators, and how they all reflect the social and political trends throughout the '80s and '90s. It has a decidedly leftist bent, and the discussion of how the comic satirizes right wing politics manages to justify my enjoyment of a character who is more or less a fascist police officer. I haven't managed to finish the whole thing yet (despite it's short length), but so far it's been pretty fascinating, even if Sláine is repeatedly misspelled.

So let this be a lesson to you, check the library discard cart, because you might just find what you didn't even know you were looking for.

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