Top of the Morning, July 30, 2014

Top of the Morning, July 30, 2014

To the comics community, Carol Tilley has serious street cred. That was apparent at last weekend's wild and wacky Comic-Con International in San Diego, which drew an eccentric crowd of about 130,000 and included a presentation by the UI associate professor of library and information science.

For Tilley, the convention was "a reminder that comics create community. It was inspiring (and a little overwhelming) to see so many people gathered in one spot to celebrate — each in his or her own way — this fabulous medium. Comics can entertain, educate, inspire and more."

The late Fredric Wertham asserted that comics were bad for children in a 1950s book. When she took Wertham's findings to the woodshed in 2012, Tilley became a widely sought-after crusader for comics. From Comic-Con to The New York Times to the Big Ten Network, she's been in high demand since. Still, she found time Tuesday to weigh in:

If you bumped into Fredric Wertham, you'd tell him ...

Thanks for giving me my 15 minutes of scholarly fame. Actually, I'd tell him, 'Great intentions — bad execution.'

Are you surprised by all the attention?

Yes. I don't think anyone who knows comics or anything about Wertham was surprised that his research was flawed, so I continue to be amazed that my verification of some of those suspicions is viewed with such excitement.

What was your first comic book?

Probably an Archie from the 1950s that my grandparents bought me at a flea market. I didn't really read superhero comics growing up, although I adored the Wonder Woman television show and the first Superman movie.

Batman or Robin?

Batman. I'm not a very good sidekick.

What's the strangest thing you saw at Comic-Con?

Perhaps the guy who was dressed as a horse and rider. The horse's back legs had pulleys and gears so that they moved appropriately as he walked.

Did you get to mingle with celebrities?

I suppose that depends on your definition of celebrity. I hung out with a variety of comics historians and journalists, and I got to chat with some of my favorite cartoonists like Neal Adams (Batman), Jennifer & Matt Holm (Babymouse), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy) and Jeff Smith (Bone).

Since you appeared on BTN, any interest in coaching football at Illinois?

Just as Wertham should have left comics alone, I think I should leave football alone.

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