Archive for Rob Weiner

Night Nurse and the Struggle to Address Non-Mainstream Culture

Texas Tech associate librarian Rob Weiner is making with the comics scholarship again, this time with a paper in the International Journal of Comic Art about the very short-lived Marvel series “Night Nurse.” Marvel apparently figured it had a typical “girls-only” comic, but writer Jean Thomas (wife of Roy Thomas, longtime comics writer and editor) had other ideas…

In the first issue, Carter actually breaks up with her boyfriend in order to pursue her nursing career. In later issues, she fends off the chief of police and faces down a killer.

“From its cover, Night Nurse looks like it would be a typical nursing comic, but it’s not,” Weiner said. “The stereotype of the submissive nurse isn’t there.”

By the fourth issue, the series had begun fleshing out side characters and tackling deeper plots, Weiner said.

So he finds it telling that the series, written by a woman and starring a strong female character, was cancelled so quickly.

“I think Night Nurse ultimately wasn’t successful because no one knew what to do with it,” Weiner says. “It was really pretty progressive for the time, even though the Women’s Movement was in full swing.”

Of course, the biggest problem comics (and frankly, every other form of mass media out there) have had with covering non-mainstream groups has been that the writers, artists, and publishers have often had no connection at all to the groups they were writing about.

Sure, sometimes, you ended up with a woman writing a comic about a woman, or an African-American writing about other African-Americans — and sometimes you get white writers who just do an astoundingly good job of writing non-white characters.

But for a lot of comics like “Night Nurse,” there was a mandate from the higher-ups for “Let’s have comics about women!” And then, when the comics about women didn’t sell as well as established characters like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, the higher-ups decided “Let’s have no more comics about women!” And that was that.

Again, this is the sort of thing that almost all mass media has problems with — there are plenty of TV shows out there where all the lead characters are as pale as they can be, and there are apparently a lot of Hollywood execs who’ve decided they never want to make an action movie with a female lead (which is gonna make filming a Wonder Woman movie a bit difficult). Still, it often seems like when comics misstep on issues of race, gender, and class, they misstep as embarrassingly as they can.

Night Nurse still exists as a Marvel character — she’s now an occasional associate of Dr. Strange and often shows up as a guest star whenever a superhero needs medical treatment. But there’s something very cool about a ’70s comic focused on drama and adventure that featured non-superpowered women as the main characters.

So I’m glad that Jean Thomas was given the chance to produce those four little issues of “Night Nurse,” and I’m glad Rob was able to use his paper to throw a little light on the series. Kudos for him, and as always, I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll have for us next…

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The Amazing Spider-Philosopher!

Texas Tech Associate Humanities Librarian Rob Weiner is getting another high-profile scholarly article published

Yes, Mary Jane, there is a Spider-Man.

At least, that’s what pop-culture guru and associate humanities librarian for Texas Tech University Libraries Rob Weiner set out to prove in an article published in the International Journal of Comic Art.

A note to comic buffs: don’t get too wrapped up searching the skyline for web-slinging do-gooders just yet.

However, there’s good news for anyone who’s ever picked up a Spidey comic or just worn one of his T-shirts: thanks to you, Spider-Man has found life outside of comic-book pages.

In much the same way that editor Francis Pharcellus Church proved the existence of Santa Claus in his famous 1897 New York Sun editorial, Weiner contends that Spider-Man and his costumed peers have entered mankind’s collective consciousness, filling a shared need for heroes.

“When I started reading graphic novels, I was struck by the fact that stories about Spider-Man or Batman and Superman could have as many plot twists and turns as any story by Shakespeare, Stephen King or Leo Tolstoy,”  he said. “I was struck by how good some of the writing was for these so-called ‘kiddie’ books, and that somehow these archetypical characters like Spider-Man were replacing Odysseus and Zeus as part of modern mythology.”

Snooping around mankind’s collective consciousness for humanity’s new archetypical heroes is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it…

Rob gave a talk about this topic at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo back in May, so it’s great to hear that he was able to turn the talk into something that folks outside of Lubbock will get to read and enjoy.

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Lubbock’s Comics Connections: Rob Weiner

We got a lot of local comics creators who are gonna be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on May 2, so I’m gonna start running these Comics Connections bits a bit more often. One of the more important comics folks we’ve got around here doesn’t draw or write comics, but he’s still had a huge impact on the comics world here in Lubbock: Rob Weiner.

Rob was a reference librarian at the Mahon Library here in Lubbock for 12 years. He took a position at the Texas Tech Library as Humanities Librarian a year or two back. He also serves as the Liaison for the College of Visual and Performing Arts and Librarian for Film, Art, Sequential Art, Music, Dance, and Theatre.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Mahon Library and the Lubbock Public Library System has one of the best graphic novel collections in the country, and Rob is the guy who made it all possible. He started building the collection 10 years ago and grew it from a few books to over 4,000. He has published numerous articles and given talks and seminars about building graphic novels collections for libraries.


Rob wrote an article in the 2008 issue of Texas Library Journal about the history of and how to catalog Graphic Novels. He is the author of “Marvel Graphic Novels: An Annotated Guide 1965-2005” and “Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero,” both published by McFarland Press. He also wrote a chapter in “The Gospel According to Superheroes” that focuses on Captain America. Weiner has also written and spoken on the Grateful Dead, Music and Film topics.

Heck, Rob is really blowing up pretty big right now. Texas Tech is spotlighting his new Captain America book, and SciFiPulse has an excellent interview with him (as well as a cartoon of Rob as Cap that is far too funny).


And don’t forget, Rob will be at the Lubbock Comic Book Expo on Saturday, May 2! He’ll be giving a presentation on “The Reality of Spider-Man” at 11 a.m.! Don’t miss out!

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A Moment for Scholarly Pursuits


Ya know what’s cool about working at a newspaper? You get all these press releases in the mail, and every once in a while, one of them ends up being useful for your comic book blog! For instance, there’s this one that came late last week from the folks at Texas Tech University…

To all those would-be comic book historians whose mothers tossed out their research materials while cleaning out the attic: here’s the resource for you.

“Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide,” written by Texas Tech University pop cultural guru Rob Weiner, is an exhaustive 385-page reference work on the universe of Spidey, Iron Man and The Fantastic Four.

Written to appeal to casual fans, committed collectors and scholars of sequential art – a lofty term for comic books – the guide provides detailed descriptions for all of Marvel’s mainstream comics. Bibliographic citations provide information on writers and artists, ISBN numbers and plot synopsis for each publication title.

Weiner, a Texas Tech author, librarian and instructor with expertise on topics ranging from the Grateful Dead to American presidents in film, noted that a growing number of universities are offering courses that examine the social and psychological impact of sequential art.

“Superman, Batman and Spiderman represent a 20th century type of folklore, much like their predecessors: Odysseus, Hercules and Perseus,” he said.

Weiner spent six years compiling the book – a task that required him to read all the works himself. The guide includes anecdotes and listings of scholarly publications on the subject.

Weiner serves as a subject librarian for the Texas Tech Library who specializes in art, sequential art, music and film. He is currently co-editing a book about transgressive exploitation and art cinema and plans the release of another book covering a Marvel staple: Captain America.

“Marvel Graphic Novels and Related Publications: An Annotated Guide,” published by McFarland, may be purchased through

By the way, Rob is one of the most dedicated promoters of comics in the Lubbock area — he worked for about a dozen years as a reference librarian at Lubbock’s Mahon Library and helped build the library’s comics/graphic novels collection from only a few books to over 4,000. That’s gotta be one of the largest municipally-held comics collections in the country, if not the world.

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