The Bowlus Collection includes more than 7,000 comic books and related materials, many from the silver age of comic books published during the late 1950s through the 1960s. Bowlus, an LSU alumnus, began collecting comics in grade school and continued until his untimely death in his late 20s, due to Marfan syndrome. The collection was donated to the LSU Libraries by his mother, Martha Bowlus, to honor his memory and preserve a collection he loved. The Bowlus Collection offers a wealth of graphic art and storytelling from a formative period in American cultural history.
The exhibit demonstrates that comic books are a rich popular culture resource. As with all forms of literary and artistic expression, comic books both reflect and influence to a degree the culture out of which they are created. Comics tackle contemporary issues and classic tales, and storylines are fleshed out in a universe with plots and characters ranging from the stereotypical to the fantastic.
Many of the materials that will be on display reflect comics produced from 1960 to 1985, with an emphasis on superhero titles. Loaned materials published in more recent years also supplement the collection. Topics of analysis include censorship, democracy and patriotism, race, gender and alternative and web comics. The exhibition will also include an industry history, with a focus on Marvel Comics, EC Comics and DC Comics.