Monday, September 21, 2015

How to See Amazing Fantasy #15 at the Library of Congress

I had a great vacation in Washington D.C. and was able to view the original artwork for Amazing Fantasy #15.  Here is the process that I went through and wanted to document it in case you are interested in seeing it for yourself.  I hope this helps!

The Library of Congress is located in beautiful Washington, D.C.  Don't get this confused with the many great free museums in DC.  The museums fall under the "Smithsonian" banner, so if you are a museum person and you want to wander around air conditioned museums, google "Smithsonian Washington".  I checked out the Museum of American History and also the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  I had a great time at both.   

However, if you want to see the comic book art, that is located in the Library of Congress.

A few years ago, an anonymous donor handed over to the Library of Congress the original artwork that Stan Lee wrote and Steve Ditko drew for Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962) which is the first appearance of Spider-Man.  This artwork is not on permanent public display, although pages will go out to various exhibitions on occasion.  However,  you can request to see it.  I wanted to document the process and hopefully this helps if you are looking to check it out in the Washington D.C. area.

The cover was not donated, but you can request
 to see the original interior artwork.

Amazing Fantasy #15 is housed in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs division.

Request an Appointment
You can email the librarian and ask to set up an appointment to view it.  Go to the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs division (click the above link) and find the "contact us" link.  They are very busy (they have hundreds of thousands of items) so make sure to request your appointment well in advance (like weeks in advance if you can).  I talked with the librarians there and they mentioned that Amazing Fantasy #15 is one of the more requested pieces, so they will know what you are requesting.

Splash page.  I requested to view the original artwork.

Go To the Madison Building

Once you have an appointment, go to the building next to the Library of Congress, called the Madison Building. 

Go Through Security
Hopefully this is common knowledge, but there is a security screen similar to airports to get into the building.  It is fun watching people pull out four pounds of change, belt buckles, swords, chunks of uranium or whatever else people seem to be carrying around with them while in D.C. 

Get A Reader Identification Card
Head to room 140 in the Madison Building.  Make sure to bring government ID like a passport or driver's license.  It is very quick to get a card (you fill out a form online and then they take your picture and give you the card within a few minutes).

Go to the Reading Room
Show up at your designated appointment time and sign in.  They will pull the item(s) and sit with you while you view them. 

Sign The Waiver & Enjoy!
The librarians could not have been more pleasant and helpful.  They take great pride in their job and are happy to see people excited to see something cool and so historically important to the world of comic books!

I stayed for about 15-20 minutes (and quite enjoyed talking with the librarian, she has a very interesting job) while I took some photos.  The pages are in mylar and of course no one is taking them out of the protective sleeve.  There is some white out on the pages and liner notes.  So cool!

A big thank you to the Library of Congress librarians for helping make my trip to Washington D.C. so great!