"The Who's Who of American Comic Books" surveys and other material Edit


MSS 450 large


  • 1940-2000 (Creation)
  • bulk (Creation)


  • 5 Linear Feet (Whole)
    4 carton boxes, 1 legal-sized archival box, 1 box of notecards

Agent Links



  • Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is open for research.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    The material is stored offsite in Remote Storage. Please contact Special Collections 3 working days in advance if you wish to use it.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright is retained by the authors of the items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. For photocopy and duplication requests, please contact MSU Libraries Special Collections.

  • Preferred Citation

    [Item], Folder [number], Box [number], MSS 450, “The Who’s Who of American Comic Books” surveys, Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries, East Lansing, MI.

  • Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Jerry Bails’s widow Jeanne Bails donated the collection to MSU’s Special Collection Library in 2008.

  • Processing Information

    This collection has been processed by Sarah McLusky and Randall Scott, July 2015.

    Sources consulted during preparation of biographical note include:

    The Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999, Personal Acknowledgement (http://www.bailsprojects.com/about.html).

    Randall W. Scott, “Who’s Who of American Comic Books Archive joins the Comic Art Collection,” Special Collections vol. 5 no. 1 (Winter 2008), Michigan State University Libraries: p. 1 (https://img.lib.msu.edu/special-collections/pdf/SPCNewsV5No1.pdf).

    Michael Jackman, “The Fan: Sheldon Dorf,” in “People Who Died,” Detroit Metro Times, December 23, 2009 (http://www.metrotimes.com/detroit/people-who-died/Content?oid=2196511).

  • Biographical / Historical

    Jerry Bails (1933-2006) was a Wayne State University (Detroit) professor and longtime comics fan. He studied physics at the University of Kansas City from 1951-1955 and did one year of graduate work at the University of Chicago before returning to the University of Kansas City to earn a Master’s degree and, in 1960, a Ph.D. in General Education.

    He was active in comics fandom for many years, helping found the fanzine “Alter Ego” and CAPA-alpha, the first amateur press association devoted entirely to comic books, in addition to editing “Who’s Who.”

    In the 1970s Bails began compiling information about comics writers, artists, and publishers in the United States. With assistance from Hames Ware, he used the information to create “The Who’s Who of American Comic Books,” which they first published in four volumes in print in the mid-1970s.

    Bails continued adding information about comics published through the year 1999 and more recent versions of “Who’s Who” took the form of an online database which has been maintained but not updated since his death on November 23, 2006.

  • Scope and Contents

    The majority of this collection is comprised of biographical information about the comics writers, artists, and publishers that Bails contacted or researched. Much of the information takes the form of responses to the survey questionnaires sent out by Bails, as well as letters and resumes that some respondents chose to send either instead of or in addition to the questionnaires. It also includes biographical information on comics writers, artists, and publishers from other sources, such as newspaper and magazine interviews and correspondence with survey respondents helping to identify other potential respondents or clarify the roles their colleagues played in the comics industry. Other materials in the collection include correspondence from Roy Thomas, personal papers concerning Bails’s college and graduate education, and notecards with Bails's unanswered questions about survey recipients.

  • Arrangement

    The collection is arranged into four series:

    Series 1: Survey questionnaires and articles

    Series 2: Letters from Roy Thomas

    Series 3: Jerry Bails personal papers

    Series 4: Survey question notecards

    Most materials in Series 1 arrived in alphabetical order (by respondent’s last name); documents that were not received in order but which clearly related to a particular person were interfiled.

    Series 2-4 were left in the order in which they were received, with the exception of photos and newspaper articles from Jerry Bails’s childhood in Series 3, which were separated from information about his college education and placed in their own folder.

  • Custodial History

    After Jerry Bails’s death, Jeanne Bails sent the survey questionnaires (Series 1, Survey questionnaires and articles) to Roy Thomas, a friend of Jerry’s and former Marvel editor, so he could photocopy them before they came to MSU.

  • Related Materials

    The survey questionnaires in this collection were used to create "The Who's Who of American Comic Books," [Detroit: 1st edition 1973-1976], as well as later editions and eventually an online database "Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999," which as of July 2015 can be found at http://www.bailsprojects.com/.

    The Special Collections Library also has a copy of the 1st print edition of "Who's Who" (call number PN6725 .B3), as well as the 1977 and 1978 additions (call numbers PN6725 .B3 1977 and PN6725 .B3 1978), and a later print edition (call number PN6725 .B3 1986).

  • Related Materials

    Other materials belonging to Jerry Bails now in the Special Collections Library:

    Jerry Bails Microfilm Library of Comic Art (call number: 15791 Microfilm)

    Modesty Blaise scrapbooks, compiled by Jerry G. Bails. Author: O'Donnell, Peter, 1920-2010 (call number: folio PN6738.M6 B3 1970z)

    Justice Society of America scrapbooks, compiled by Jerry G. Bails (call number: folio PN6728.A4 B3 1946)