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Ohlerking Collection of Batman Comics

Identifier: MsC0932

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Scope and Contents

Inspired by a film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, Japanese graphic artists created the first costumed superhero, the Golden Bat (Agon Batto), as early as 1931. The U.S. fictional comic book character Batman was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and appeared in the May 1939 Detective Comics #27, and soon gained its own title and runs. Vowing to become an extralegal crime fighter after the murder of his parents, millionaire philanthropist Bruce Wayne dons the costume and assumes the persona of Batman to clean Gotham City of vice. In his crusade he is helped by a variety of secondary characters including his family's butler Alfred and his sidekick Robin, and he uses secret Bat-enhanced technology to fight crime. Among his villainous opponents are the Joker, Two Face, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman. In terms of periodization, a part of the collection dates to the "Bronze Age" of American comic books, which began between 1969 and 1971 and endured until the 1986 introduction of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen both published by DC Comics. These two comics, with their darker and grittier artwork and themes inaugurated the so-called "Modern Age" or as the fans called it, the "grim and gritty era" which produced the bulk of our collection. This period also saw the emergence of a profitable series of Batman blockbuster feature films with Hollywood and other stars in the leading roles. The collection attests to the comic industry's business practices of issuing various runs to test popularity and generate collector's items, as well as to the multiplication of storylines, dimensions, character trials and spinoffs, and the intensification of art and story engaging with strong moods and emotions. This collection consists of 11 linear feet of comic books given to the libraries by Ryan Ohlerking. Note that the issue numbers and date-spans listed in the finding aid for each title indicate the spread of dates for which we possess issues. While many of our titles are nearly all consecutive, they do not indicate uninterrupted runs.


  • Creation: 1968-2004


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


11.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Collection of Batman and Batman related comic books.

Method of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Ryan Ohlerking in February 2012.

Related Materials

Other comic book collections in the University of Iowa Special Collections include the Comic Books of the Bronze Age, which is comprised of mainstream U.S. comics of the 1970s and early 1980s; The ATCA Comics Collection (msc0780), which consists of Artists' and underground comics 1969-1979; the The Jen Wolfe Collection of Female-Driven Comic Books (msc0879), which contains comics from 1948-2006; and The Papers of Thomas Ollive Mabbott Burton Pollin Illustrated Poe Addendum (msc0429), which includes many comic book editions of Poe's short stories.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)