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Four Color Fantasies

Attention all comics fans: superheroes, villains, space monsters and crime fighters have invaded the University of South Carolina!

Four Color Fantasies, the first ever exhibit of items from the Gary Lee Watson Comic Book Collection, is open to the campus and community this fall at the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library in Columbia, S.C.

Watson, a lifetime collector, recently gifted his personal collection of more than 180,000 comics, magazines, paperbacks, pulps and other items to the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. It includes:

  • 143,000 unique comic books
  • 20,000 magazines
  • 15,000 paperbacks
  • 5,000 pulp publications and other items

Four Color Fantasies offers visitors an in-depth journey through the history of comics, and includes items from all genres, publishers and eras from the Platinum Age to the present.  

To tour the exhibit, visit the Hollings Library, located at 1322 Greene St. Columbia, SC 29208 anytime Monday - Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and select Saturdays (see details below) throughout the fall semester.

The exhibit and all events at the libraries are free and open to the campus and community.



Halloween Costume Contest

Oct. 1 - 30

Dust off your light saber and pick your cape up from the cleaners — it’s costume contest time! Dress up as your favorite comics, superhero or fantasy character and it could pay off. Open Oct. 1 - 30 to Carolina students, faculty and staff and the community. Details on official entry rules will be available soon.

Hollings Open Gallery: Monsters, Murder & Mayhem - The Nightmare World of Horror in American Comics talk

Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., talk will take place 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

What would October be without Four Color Fantasies curator and comics guru  David Shay giving a talk about the scary stuff? No one knows more, we promise. David is bringing plenty of comics from the collection to show at his talk.

The Hollings Gallery will be open 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Superman at the Nickelodeon Theatre

Monday, Nov. 4

University Libraries and the Nickelodeon Theatre are offering a free screening of Superman: The Movie (1978), with all-star cast including Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder and more.

Based on the DC Comics character who first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman is a mainstay in pop culture today around the world.

While this event is free, you must claim your ticket here for admission at the Nickelodeon.

TCoop Talk: Nothing would ever be the same: the origins of Riverdale's Black Hood

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 11 a.m. - noon

Thomas Cooper Library Scholars Corner (main level, to the left as you enter)

Mark Minett, Assistant Professor in English and Film & Media Studies, will trace the early cross-media history of Riverdale’s masked vigilante - The Black Hood.

TCoop Talks are intended for UofSC students, but anyone interested and near campus can certainly join us. 

Tour the exhibit with a curator

If you’d like a free, curator-led, deep dive tour through the Four Color Fantasies exhibit for your campus or community-based class or group, contact David Shay at or 803-777-0296.


For the classroom

University Libraries’ collections exist to support academic research and instruction.

If you’re a Carolina faculty member or student, we’d enjoy helping you integrate comics into your existing curriculum or help develop a future syllabus. Since comics are universal, reflecting our social conscience since they first went into production more than 200 years ago, all academic disciplines — graphic design, studio art, advertising, journalism, literature, history, political science and all others — can find relevant content in the comics collection. For assistance, contact Michael Weisenburg at or 803-777-2721.


For more information

For more information or media inquiries, contact Nicole Carrico at or 803-777-2115.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.