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Founding Monsters

Crop of the Founding Monsters comic cover, featuring the title and the top half of a mastodon skeleton angled up toward the top right corner [View Image]


May 10, 2021 until December 21, 2021


James Branch Cabell Library, First-floor Gallery
901 Park Ave., Richmond, Va. 23284


Founding Monsters is a comic book that tells the story of the Founding Fathers and their obsession with prehistoric megafauna, especially mastodons and giant ground sloths. This exhibit presents all 20 pages in poster-size format so that visitors can both read the comic and immerse themselves in the detail of the artwork.

The comic is a collaboration between artist Maggie Colangelo, a communications arts and environmental studies student at VCU, and Bernard K. Means, Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU School of School of World Studies and director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory, whose research into the Founding Fathers' fossil collecting shaped the narrative.

The full comic can be downloaded for free on VCU Scholars Compass.

The exhibit is free and currently open to all VCU students, faculty and staff during library hours. Before coming to the building, please check the Study Safer page for up-to-date COVID-19 safety guidelines and practices. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad StreetWest Main Street and West Cary Street decks. If special accommodations are needed, please contact the VCU Libraries Events Office at (804) 393-2951.

About the Contributors

Maggie Colangelo is a communication arts and environmental studies student at VCU. While volunteering in the Virtual Curation Laboratory, she developed the idea of Founding Monsters and was awarded a VCU Fellowship for Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry to pursue the project. Founding Monsters is her first full-length comic book.

Bernard K. Means, Ph.D., is an archaeologist and assistant professor in the VCU School of World Studies. He is also the director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory, where he leads teams of VCU students to 3D scan and 3D print dinosaur and ice age animal fossils, archaeological discoveries and historical items for teaching, research and public outreach. He was inspired to research the fossils that belonged to the founding fathers when he went to Philadelphia in august 2016 and 3D scanned Benjamin Franklin's mastodon tooth.

Image: Founding Monsters cover art, by Maggie Colangelo

View graphic version