Sunday, 23 May 2010

[339] Comix at John Harvard Library, Southwark.

Spurious personal observation: the London borough of Southwark has the best local libraries. What do you think? Well, Peckham Library (now ten years old) is an imposing, colourful, Tetronimo-shaped beauty, livening up the town centre and, among other things, packing a sweet stock of comics for citizens old and young to pilfer.

But it might not be the cutest of the bunch any more, after the re-vamped John Harvard library opened late last year. Named for the pastor born and raised locally, who went off to America and had a college named after him, the library is bright and welcoming, sporting a coffee shop and (gasp) self-service machines, as well as the Local History library and other conference rooms.

This is simple stuff. What smacked my gob, however, was the little bits of artwork on the walls, themed to the specific sections of the library. Such as a six-part mural placed above the Teen and Graphic Novels sections.

Neat, don't you think? Look a little closer...

Spot the references? (Click to enlarge.) Maus, Persepolis, Ghost World, Sandman, Hellboy, Joe Sacco, Epileptic, Charles Burns, Jim Woodring... splendidly, respectfully rendered and incorporated into this six-part cycle. Awesome! The mural was created by artist Mark Stafford, who should be commended for his attention to detail. You can read more about his work, and see cleaner images of the mural, at his site.

I believe I spent more time staring at the wall than looking through the actual books, stifling giggles and wishing that the old man or shifty teen sitting at the public computer terminals would reciprocate, and maybe share a high five over obscure alternative comics knowledge. No luck, though. So I had to console myself, then, with the knowledge that my council tax is going to a good cause.

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