Category: popular culture

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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

Special Collections at the Movies: Planet of the Apes

Released today is the eighth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”  Set ten years after its predecessor “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this film promises a darker, more engaging science-fiction world than any other Apes film before it.  In honor of the new movie, Special Collections is proud to bring you “Books of the Planet of the Apes”!  If you’ve got a monkey on your back, swing in to Special Collections and check out some of our simian stuff!

Gorilla-Hunter

This is a scan from one of the opening pages of “Paul Du Chaillu: Gorilla Hunter,” the noted French-American explorer and zoologist.  Du Chaillu is credited with confirming the existence of gorillas, and worked extensively with indigenous Pygmy tribes in Africa.  His exciting life of adventure and discovery is chronicled in “Gorilla Hunter,” and while some today might find the subject matter offensive, Du Chaillu’s legacy in ape history is unquestionable.

Tarzan

Up next we have a graphic novel adaptation of one of the most famous apperances of apes in popular culture, Tarzan the Ape Man.  Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and introduced in the 1912 short story, “Tarzan of the Apes.”  In Burroughs’ origin story, a family is marooned on the African coast and only their young son survives.  He’s adopted by a tribe of apes and raised as their own.  Burroughs continued to publish stories about Tarzan until his death in 1950.  Since then, Tarzan has been adopted once again, this time into popular culture.  Over 200 movies have been released that feature the Ape Man. 

Jungle-Book

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” introduced the character of Mowgli, an inspiration for Burrough’s Tarzan.  It also inspired this graphic novel by Harvey Kurtzman, also called “The Jungle Book.”  Kurtzman’s work is a social commentary on the nature of man in society, and how quickly humanity can descend back into its more primitive forms.  Kurtzman satirically dedicates his novel to a half-man, half-ape creature. 

Classification

Lastly, and perhaps slightly less aesthetically pleasing, is a chart from former University of Missouri professor James Gavan’s “A Classification of the Order Primates,” which details the line of descent of different species of apes.  It’s interesting to note which species Gavan cites as being nearest to man – according to his work, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees are just one evolutionary step away from us.  Published in 1975, more than a century after Charles Darwin pioneered his Theory of Evolution, Gavan’s work still caused controversies.  He participated in a creationism/evolution debate in October, 1975, against a famous creation scientist called Duane Gish, author of several anti-evolution books, including 1972’s “Evidence Against Evolution” and 1986’s “Evolution: The Fossils Say No!”  According to audience reaction, Gish outperformed Gavan in the debate.  A “rematch” was scheduled, but never occurred.  Professor Gavan passed away in 1994, and Gish in 2013.

That’s just a small sample of our simian stockpile.  Don’t wait for the apes to take over – take a look at these (and other great monkey materials) today!

 

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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection
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