European and American comic books with depictions of India
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
India's spices and exotic goods brought traders from Europe as early as the 5th century, but interactions between East and West increased significantly during the 15th century. The Portuguese and Spanish largely controlled trade until 1588 when the British defeated the Spanish Armada, and not long after, the East India Company, incorporated by royal charter on December 31, 1600, was the primary trading corporation. In 1858, British Crown rule was established in India and continued until 1947, when India won its independence.
Comic books emerged in the 19th century, gaining popularity in the 20th. While comic books were most prevalent in the United States, they were created throughout the world, including Europe during the early 20th century. Sensationalist stories are frequently the focus of comic books and graphic novels regardless of topic, country of origin, or timeframe. The European and American comic books depicting adventures in India are therefore consistent with the genre; however, imagery from the time often identifies with colonialism, crude stereotypes, imperialism, highly romanticized exoticism, and savagery.
This collection contains European and American comics depicting India in the 20th century, both before and after Indian independence. There are American, Belgian, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish publications in the collection. There are a variety of formats represented: landscape comics, periodicals, illustrated serials, two blank journals with illustrated covers, a French children's book, a single piece of sheet music, and two image paste-in collection books.
The paste-in books included collected images that the reader then placed into the appropriate blank spaces in the book. The paste-in images for the French publication, Voyage Autour du Monde: Asie, (box 1 folder 5) were acquired through the purchases of Casino chocolates and were numbered 1 through 250. In Camōes (box 1, folder 9), the images are of characters portrayed in "Os Lusíadas," a Portuguese epic poem, which celebrates the discovery of a sea route to India by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1469–1524).
Some points of interest include: a large collection of Emilio Salgari comics, a rich collection of Spanish comic portrayals of India, the same issue of a Belgian Marc Sleen comic in two languages (Flemish and French), and varying editions of Willy Vandersteen's Bob et Bobette. Together, this collection presents 20th century European pop depictions of Orientalist and colonial imagery.
These comic books were sold by Kevin Jackson.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Ann Ho, JS Wu, and Jenna Nordness
- Finding Aid Date
- 2019 April 19
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.