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Bats, Rats, and Spiders

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Oh my!

Throughout October the Fantastic Beasts series will be taking a turn for the creepy as each week in October we feature spooky creatures and things that go bump in the night.  For the first week we'll start with some of the tamer creepy-crawlies that lots of us see on a daily basis: bats, rats, and spiders.  Each of these are commonly featured in tales of terror, and are associated with death, disease, or mystery, among other things.  They can also serve as familiars to witches and sorcerors, which is where they picked up a lot of their negative associations.  Truth is, many of these fears are largely unfounded, as bats, rats, and spiders are important parts of any ecosystem and for the most part are either scared of or not a threat to humans.  Giant versions of any of these (such as those pictured below) are, of course, another matter entirely.

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Posted in Special Collections

Special Collections at the Movies: Guardians of the Galaxy

At Special Collections, we believe a part of our job to be informing patrons on subject matters they may be unfamiliar with. Whether those subjects are found in books from the Middle Ages, newspapers dating back to the American Revolution, or underground comics, we’re always here to give you the scoop on things you didn’t know you didn’t know. But chances are an upcoming summer blockbuster might have you wondering, “Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy and why should I see the movie?” Special Collections is here for you, dear reader!

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Opening in theaters this weekend is Marvel’s newest superhero flick, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Staring Chris Pratt of “Parks and Recreation” fame, along with a handful of other well-known actors (Glenn Close, John C. Reilly and Bradley Cooper, just to name a few), “Guardians” promises to be a comic book movie unlike any we’ve seen before. And just like any good superhero movie, it never hurts to have a little backstory. Though Special Collections doesn’t have any stand-alone Guardians comics, we do have several Marvel Comics encyclopedias and compendiums, along with several issues of “Avengers” comics (like the ones you see in this post), which take place in the same universe as the Guardians. If you want the full, detailed history of the Guardians of the Galaxy, stop on by and request a book. If you just want the Cliffs Notes version, read on! 

The original incarnation of the space-travelling team debuted in January, 1969. This group of Guardians never found much of a fan following, and the team was relegated to appearing alongside other heroes, like Thor and the Fantastic Four. This team shouldn’t factor in all that much with the “Guardians” film.

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However, in 2008, an entirely new team of Guardians was introduced. Made up of a human named Peter Quill, two aliens – Drax and Gamora – and two personified creatures – Rocket, a talking raccoon and Groot, a living tree – these Guardians found instant commercial success. A feature film set within Marvel’s Cinematic Universe was fast-tracked into production.

This weekend, that movie is released. It will tie in with events that happened in “The Avengers”, and set up future events for “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, Avengers 3 and beyond. Either before or after you check out the movie, stop on by and see us too!

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Posted in Comic Collection

Special Collections at the Movies: Hercules

This week's post is by Shelby Wolfe, a Special Collections undergraduate assistant.

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might not be the first person who comes to mind when pondering the classical humanities, his portrayal of Hercules in the most recent film version about the mythological demi-god might spark your desire to delve far back into classical mythology. If so, check out these Hercules-related materials at Special Collections.

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Hercules has entertained generations of adventure-loving readers and listeners for centuries. From pottery and poetry to compendium and comic book, illustrated depictions of the mythological hero are typically easy to identify – a large, muscular man often wielding a bulky club and donning a characteristic lionskin.

This plate in Andrew Tooke’s 1806 edition of The Pantheon details the hero’s attributes. Covered in a lionskin, the main image features Hercules resting his club on the ground. Two roundels above provide a closer inspection of the club and lionskin.

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Likewise, this illustration from Tooke’s 1844 Pantheon shows Hercules outfitted with his attributes. In addition, two roundel inserts depict Hercules in the midst of his Twelve Labors – slaying the Nemean Lion (the source of his lionskin attire) on the far left and his battle with the Lernaean Hydra on the far right.

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For a more modern depiction of the famed hero, take a closer look at this comic book from 1984. Hercules: Prince of Power features a monstrously muscular title character intent on saving the Marvel universe from rebel military forces in the year 2385.

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Whether it’s the 8th century BCE or 2385 CE, Hercules is sure to be flexing his muscles somewhere. 

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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection
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