Thursday, February 14, 2013

#3 Central Branch

Central Branch
350 West Georgia Street

The Central Branch! The jewel in the crown of the VPL. It's huge! So many books and DVDs and comics and zines (including some by me) and everything else!

I've been to this library so many times and done lots of things at it, so I'll concentrate on one recent trip where I did something awesome: used microfilm readers! Yes! That ancient technology you've maybe seen in movies, but never actually used yourself.

I'd been doing some reading about censorship in Canada for a course, and saw a reference to an article published in 1950. I went to the central branch and they showed me where the newspapers were kept, and how to use the reader. You can even scan the old newspapers!

(From the Daily Colonist, Victoria, BC,  January 21st, 1950, p. 18.)

This led me to looking up Canada's Criminal Code and I discovered that crime comics are still illegal! Most of this section is about "obscene" material in general, but the following sections are about comics specifically (and haven't been repealed!).
163. (1) Every one commits an offence who
(b) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, sells or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation a crime comic.

(7) In this section, “crime comic” means a magazine, periodical or book that exclusively or substantially comprises matter depicting pictorially
(a) the commission of crimes, real or fictitious; or
(b) events connected with the commission of crimes, real or fictitious, whether occurring before or after the commission of the crime.
So yeah, Detective Comics is still illegal in Canada. Here's a blog post that goes into some more detail about this.

All this research about comic books in Canada reminded me of a copy of a photo I'd once seen of a comic book burning in Vancouver. I looked it up online, and found copies of the photo, but not to when it was published. Instead sites had taken it from a book called Vancouver Noir (which I weirdly saw lying on a chair at a UBC library earlier today). They had a copy of the book in the Special Collections section of the library, and after filling out a request form I was able to look through it and discover what issue of which newspaper the photo had come from! I found the microfilm and was allowed to bring it downstairs to scan.

 (From The Vancouver Herald, December 13th, 1954, p. 1.)

"He said if parents would "sharpen up," children would soon be devoted to "classy" books and forget lower-type comics."


As a special bonus here are some comic strips from the issue of the Daily Colonist I scanned.

Buck Rogers by Bob Barton and Murphy Anderson
I have absolutely no idea what that interplanetary code says. I'm not sure if it's because of my inability to transcribe the morse code, or because it's double encrypted. This Buck Rogers Secret Code Book didn't help at all! (It is from a different decade though...)

Scarlet O'Neil by Russell Stamm
I have no idea what's going on in this. (Somehow this is about a superheroine who can turn invisible.)

Johnny Hazard by Frank Robbins
Will Johnny ever solve the case of the discarded garments?

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