Local library's video series focuses on comic books

Michael McLain, circulation and adult programming for the West End Library, met with comic book artist Mark McKenna in September, 2019.

LAURELTON — From the rewards of a financial investment to the allure of the stories themselves, comic books appeal to a wide range of people and are now being discussed in online segments.

The West End Library features a weekly Comic Book Talk hosted by Michael McLain on Tuesdays, usually available by 6 p.m. on Facebook or YouTube. The videos are free to view.

“He really knows his comic books,” said Wendy Rote, library director, speaking about McLain. “He really knows the history of them.”

“There are different types of fans out there,” said McLain, circulation and adult programming for the West End Library. “Some really go into the artwork. Some go into the storyline and the characters. And some go into the investment or collecting component of it.”

Recorded live and uploaded to the library’s Facebook and YouTube pages, McLain’s videos cover a range of topics that include the history, creators and collecting of comic books. He speaks knowledgeably about comic books partly due to his own interest in the genre, which has resulted in an impressive collection.

“Last I counted, I had over a thousand,” he said. “With comic book collecting, that’s the tip of the iceberg.”

Among his favorites are Star Wars, Batman and the Green Lantern.

With COVID social-distancing restrictions making it difficult to host live presentations, the West End Library staff decided to create virtual events for patrons to enjoy. The library also offers a virtual storytime for 3- to 6-year-olds and an online book club that most recently discussed “The Queen’s Gambit,” by Walter Tevis.

In April, the library is planning to host Chris Ring, the creator of CarbonKnight who has also worked on various projects with PMK Comics.

McLain ties in the history of comic books to current events, Rote said.

“The videos are for people who want to learn about comics or different characters,” McLain said. “You can see comic books you normally wouldn’t see and get information about the hobby and the industry, the creators and the characters.”

McLain met another comic book creator in 2019, when artist Mark McKenna visited the library for an open house. McKenna worked with Marvel and DC comics, inking pictures of popular characters like The X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Wolverine, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Justice League.

As for himself, McLain appreciates comic books for two reasons.

“I very much enjoy the reading and the artwork,” he said. “For a comic book to really work, you need to have a combination of both.”

Each Comic Book Talk video lasts four or five minutes and can be viewed as soon as they are uploaded every Tuesday evening.

Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email comments to her at CindyOHerman@gmail.com

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