The 13 Most Interesting Comics of August

Each month, we’ll round up the most interesting comics, graphic novels, webcomics, digital comics and comic-related Kickstarters that we think you should check out.

1. March: Book Three

By Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Top Shelf

The third and final book in Rep. John Lewis’ autobiographical account of the Civil Rights Movement begins with a horrifying scene inside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham moments before a bomb set off by white supremacists kills four young girls. It ends with the hope achieved by the march from Selma to Montgomery and the signing of the Voting Rights Act but with the solemn understanding that the struggle will outlive the Movement itself. Each volume of March has seemed to land with the added relevance of today’s racially charged current events. Book 2 was released shortly after the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Book 3 comes out amidst an even more pronounced national conversation about race and injustice. It even contains a scene from the 1964 Republican convention that is very reminiscent of this year’s GOP convention.

March is going to go down as one of the greatest books about this period in American history. Lewis, with co-writer Andrew Aydin, has managed to pack as much gut-wrenching emotion into his story as he does informative detail, and artist Nate Powell has shown exactly how to handle real-life material like this. It is a true accomplishment to create a work of such drama and visual grace that feels like it sacrifices none of the historical accuracy that is so crucial to conveying its story. This is a book that will be taught not only in history classes but in art classes as well.

2. Bera the One-Headed Troll

By Eric Orchard
First Second

Eric Orchard’s latest children’s fantasy graphic novel is an adventure about a troll named Bera who finds herself responsible for the care of a human baby that has mysteriously appeared out of nowhere. Bera, a simple pumpkin gardener, is not prone to adventure but realizes that it is up to her to keep this child safe from the dangers that lurk around and that consider this baby’s presence a threat.

Young readers will enjoy Orchard’s matter-of-fact humor and eerie-yet-cute artwork (sort of a cross between Victorian-era children’s books and Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas). Adults will marvel at it as well and may appreciate the book’s subtext, which subtly hints at issues of mental illness. Orchard actually drew part of the book from a hospital while being treated for OCD and anxiety issues. He also modeled the character of Bera’s nearly incomprehensible aunt off his own mother, who suffered from schizophrenia.

3. The Omega Men: The Complete Series

By Tom King, Barnaby Bagenda and Romulo Farjado, Jr.
DC Comics

This book almost did not come to be. Halfway through this planned 12-issue series, DC Comics canceled The Omega Men due to poor sales, only to reverse its decision in the face of fan protest. Now, the critically-acclaimed series (it was on my own Best of 2015 list) hits bookstores with a trade paperback collecting the entire story.

The Omega Men is responsible for launching the career of writer Tom King, who is now writing Batman. A former counterterrorism operations officer for the CIA, King took his real world knowledge and applied it to a story about fundamentalism and insurrection set in the far reaches of space. It has one of the most shocking opening scenes of any comic you’ll read this year, reminiscent of an Al-Qaeda-style video showing a kidnapped former Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner being beheaded. The Omega Men has also made the career of artist Barnaby Bagenda who, along with colorist Romulo Farjado, Jr., has a painterly, Eurocomics style that helps elevate the material above most cosmic superhero fare. With King, the artists make use of a nine-panel grid structure throughout the comic—a format made famous by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen—that gives this book a dramatic and unique pacing.

4. Spoiler: On the Campaign Trail with Jill Stein

By Sarah Glidden
The Nib

Politically-focused comics portal The Nib has come back strong from an extended hiatus with lots of coverage centered around the 2016 election. In their longest piece of comics journalism to date, Sarah Glidden traveled around with Green Party candidate Jill Stein to create something we don’t see much from the mainstream news media: an expose on a third party candidate.

Glidden is a cartoonist who specializes in journalistic travelogues like How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less and her upcoming Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq. In Spoiler, she interviews Stein at her home in Massachusetts and watches her in action on the campaign trail on the west coast, giving one of the fullest and most nuanced accounts of Stein’s campaign as you’re likely to read anywhere.

5. The! Greatest! Of! Marlys!

By Lynda Barry
Drawn & Quarterly

Lynda Barry is one of the most influential comic creators of all time and one of the industry’s most important female cartoonists. A veteran of alt-weekly comics of the 1980s, her funny, observational comics about childhood, starring a freckle-faced little girl with the unusual name of Marlys were originally published as part of her Ernie Pook's Comeek strip. She has inspired many of today’s female YA-comic makers, particularly today’s most popular creator, Raina Telgemeier. Some young fans of Telgemeier’s comics may balk at Barry’s wordy, roughly drawn and decidedly not “cute” Marlys comics collected in this giant book from Drawn & Quarterly, but they will absolutely connect with the cutting humor and the surprising realness that Barry conveys through the eccentric Marlys.

6. All Star Batman #1

By Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr., Declan Shalvey, Danny Miki, Dean White and Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics

There was a lot of trepidation from fans and probably even DC Comics management when it was decided that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo would no longer be the creative team on Batman. Arguably, their run on the title was the only aspect of DC’s 2011 “New 52" relaunch that will be looked back on as being a success. Snyder is not leaving the character though and instead is using the All-Star Batman title to tell a story he felt that he couldn’t do within his run on Batman proper.

All-Star will see Snyder working with an all-star team of artists beginning with John Romita, Jr., the longtime Marvel veteran. With Dean White’s coloring giving Romita’s art a modern, edgy style, the first issue of this series hints at a more fun and stylish Batman than we’ve seen in recent years. There is also a backup story illustrated by Declan Shalvey with Jordie Bellaire on colors that blends the ‘60s pop color of the Batman TV show with the darker, post-Frank Miller grit of the modern era.

7. This is Not Fine

By KC Green
The Nib

Another big moment for The Nib this month saw cartoonist KC Green revisit a 3-year-old comic that has since become the defining meme of the 2016 election. The first two panels of 2013's “On Fire” from his popular Gunshow webcomic have been shared many times as a meme to represent blind acceptance, but it blew up, so to speak, this year as a symbol for how we’re resigning to the madness of 2016 current events. When the GOP, a frequent target of the “This is Fine” joke, used the cartoon on their official Twitter account in a half-hearted criticism of the Democratic Convention, it seemed to set off a bit of anger in both The Nib and Green, leading to Green creating a sequel for the site called “This is Not Fine,” a perfect reaction to 2016’s normalization of the abnormal.

8. Kill or Be Killed #1

By Ed Brubaker, Sean Philips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image Comics

The protagonist of Kill or Be Killed, whom we first meet as a masked gunman mowing down unidentified “people who deserve it” in a dark apartment building, fits the bill of a stereotypical "lone gunman." We see him pining for a girl who is playing with his emotions, showing weakness when confronted by bullies, and even attempting suicide by jumping off a roof. How he goes from being put upon and suicidal to becoming a violent aggressor seems like a story ripped from the headlines. But when he miraculously survives that fall, we learn it is thanks to a demon who gives him back his life in exchange for his promise to commit murder.

Brubaker, Philips, and Breitweiser return here to the supernatural genre they recently dabbled in with Fatale and while in some respects this feels like a palette cleanser coming off The Fade Out—their astounding and historically grounded tale of old Hollywood and film noir—this team is so on top of their game right now that anything they do is going to be a significant work.

9. Alena

By Kim W. Andersson
Dark Horse

Kim W. Andersson’s 2012 graphic novel Alena was recently adapted into a Swedish-made film that debuted at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this year. Its positive reception has led to Dark Horse Comics bringing the original book to the U.S. this month. Alena is a disturbing story of a teenage girl who transfers to a boarding school after the death of her girlfriend, Josephine. She is haunted both literally and figuratively by Josephine’s death as she tries to make new friends and deal with the bullying of the school’s top mean girl, but the constant visits from Josephine’s inexplicably living corpse are making that impossible for Alena.

Andersson’s story reads like a YA-style drama with some explicit elements of graphic horror and sexual situations, but its strength actually lies in its depiction of loss and bullying which at times is more realistic than you’d expect from a story that at least appears to be about a dead girl taking out her vengeance on the living.

10. Batgirl #1

By Hope Larson, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig
DC Comics

DC Comics’ latest line-wide relaunch is aiming to fix some of the tonal mistakes they made during their last attempt to modernize their heroes, but one comic that didn’t need a lot of fixing was Batgirl. The previous creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and Babs Starr went against the grain of DC’s grim and gritty house style to turn Batgirl into a modern, female-positive, and fun comic. With that group moving on to other projects, DC is being smart to keep the momentum going by putting their most interesting new creative team on the job. Hope Larson is the popular writer and artist of young adult graphic novels like Chiggers and the comic adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. This year has seen her working solely as a writer on multiple books, collaborating with artists like Rebecca Mock on Compass South and Brittney Williams on Goldie Vance. On Batgirl, she is joined by Rafael Albuquerque, an artist of dynamic and moody visuals, known for his run on the Vertigo comic American Vampire.

Larson and Albuquerque begin their new Batgirl series by keeping a lot of the tone that made the last series work but start out by taking Barbara Gordon away from her supporting cast and her hipsterish Gotham City borough, Burnside, for a soul-searching backpacking trip across Japan full of romance and hand-to-hand combat.

11. The Meek

By Der-Shing Helmer
Kickstarter

Der-Shing Helmer began working on her webcomic The Meek back in 2009 when she was still a teenager. Her lush, polished artwork looked more like stills from an animated feature than the typical lo-fi work you’d often see on the web at the time. It was one of the great examples of long form webcomic storytelling from the first half of this decade and Helmer managed to retain a loyal readership even during some lengthy hiatuses. Now, she is rewarding longtime fans and welcoming potential new readers with her first print edition of The Meek, funded via what is looking like a very successful Kickstarter. And as good as Helmer’s art has always been, she’s taking the opportunity of the new book to go back and polish up some of her earlier pages.

The Meek is an adventure that follows Angora, a green-haired young girl from the jungle who is sent by her grandfather on a mission to save the world from something called “The Center.” She has no idea how she is going to do this and hopes to figure it out along the way as her journey takes her to all corners of this fantasy world.

12. Lady Killer 2 #1

By Joelle Jones and Michelle Madsen
Dark Horse Comics

The premise of Joelle Jones’ Lady Killer series is basically: What if Betty Draper was Jason Bourne? In the sequel to the hit 2015 mini-series, prim and proper housewife Josie Schuller and her family have moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida where she is secretly starting up her own business as a freelance assassin.

While drawn in a modern comics style and rife with gory comics violence, Jones meticulously recreates the fashion and atmosphere of its 1960s setting, taking lots of cues from the advertising and design of that Mad Men era. Jones is known primarily for her stylish artwork but after co-writing the first series with frequent collaborator Jamie S. Rich, she is the solo creator on this new series (along with colorist Michelle Madsen).

13. Fantasy Sports 2: The Bandit of Barbel Bay

By Sam Bosma
Nowbrow Press

The delightful premise of Sam Bosma’s all-ages fantasy series is that a pair of travelers, a young girl named Wiz and her musclebound sidekick Mug, end up challenged to various sporting competitions by the fantasy-world creatures they encounter. After playing basketball with Egyptian mummies in volume 1, the pair is teleported to a beach town and end up in a volleyball tournament with the town’s amphibious residents.

Fantasy Sports 1 was Bosma’s first graphic novel, but, an accomplished illustrator and art professor, he is already a master comics storyteller. Comics about sports are a rarity in the West but have always been big in Japanese manga where Bosma has found a lot of inspiration for this series. This book is sure to be a hit with kids who’ll enjoy seeing their favorite sports played to the extreme by funny-looking monsters.

11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned

Getty Images
Getty Images

Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who was "born" on November 18, 1928. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. The Shindig scandal

In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called The Shindig because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (at the 1:05 mark above) and let us know if you’re scandalized.

2. Romania's rodent nightmare

With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. The Barnyard Battle battle of 1929

In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The "miserable ideal" ordeal

The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-1930s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. Disney's "demoralizing" cast of characters

Laughing Winnie the Pooh doll
CatLane/iStock via Getty Images

In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. Germany's "Anti-Red" rodent ban

In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. Disney vs. the Boy King of Yugoslavia

A photograph of King Peter II of Yugoslavia
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. The miraculous Mussolini escape

Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Not going for "I'm going to Disneyland"

Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. The great Seattle liquor store war

In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. An udder humiliation

Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after The Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

41 Wonderful Facts About Mister Rogers

PBS Television, Getty Images
PBS Television, Getty Images

Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. Just ahead of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a new biopic in which Tom Hanks stars everyone's favorite "neighbor," here are 41 things you might not have known about Fred Rogers.

1. Fred Rogers was bullied as a child.

A publciity image of David Newell (L) and Fred Rogers (R) from 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' is pictured
Focus Features

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Massachusetts's Nantucket island—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and was regularly taunted by his classmates.

"I used to cry to myself when I was alone," Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano."

2. Rogers left Dartmouth College after one year.

Rogers was an Ivy League dropout. He spent his freshman year at Dartmouth College, then transferred to Rollins College, where he pursued a degree in music.

3. He was an accomplished musician.

Fred Rogers in a still from 'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' (2018)
Focus Features

Rogers transferred to Rollins College in order to pursue a degree in music and graduated Magna cum laude. In addition to his talent for playing the piano, Rogers was also an incredible songwriter.

4. He wrote the music for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

Need proof of Rogers's songwriting prowess? He wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

5. Playing the piano was his favorite stress-reducer.

Whenever Rogers began to feel anxious or overwhelmed, he would play the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood theme song on the piano as a way to calm his nerves.

6. He had a strict daily routine.

Rogers was a stickler when it came to his daily routine: He started his day at 5 a.m. and made time for a prayer as well as some studying, writing, phone calls, swimming, and responding to his fan mail.

7. He weighed himself daily.

Mister Rogers
Getty Images

Another part of Rogers's daily routine included a daily weigh-in. He liked to maintain a weight of exactly 143 pounds.

8. His weight had a special meaning.

Rogers's regular weight of 143 had special meaning to him. "It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you," Rogers once said. "One hundred and forty-three."

9. Pennsylvania celebrated 143 day in 2019.

In 2019, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born near Pittsburgh and lived his whole life in the area. By honoring Rogers with his own holiday, the individuals behind the 143 Day campaign wanted to encourage people to be kind to their neighbors on May 23—and every other day of the year.

10. Rogers responded to every fan letter he received.

Rogers took time out of each day to respond to his fan mail, and he responded to each and every letter he received—approximately 50 to 100 letters per day. "He respected the kids who wrote," Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

11. No feeling was too big—or small—for Mr. Rogers to talk about.

A promotional image of Fred Rogers for 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' is pictured
Amazon

Over the many years he worked with children, Rogers spoke very openly about his and their feelings on every sort of topic, from why kids shouldn't be afraid of haircuts to divorce and war.

12. He spent five episodes talking about nuclear war.

Since its inception on Pittsburgh's WQED in 1968, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had informed its young audience about topical issues in subversive and disarming ways. When civil rights were discussed, host Fred Rogers didn’t deliver a lecture about tolerance. Instead, he invited a black friend, Officer Clemmons, to cool off in his inflatable pool, a subtle nod to desegregation.

Rogers conceived and taped a five-episode storyline on the subject in the summer of 1983, which wound up being prescient. In November 1983, president Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada to topple a Marxist regime.

“Little did I know we would be involved in a worldwide conflict now,” Rogers told the Associated Press. “But that’s all the better because our shows give families an opportunity for communication. If children should hear the news of war, at least they have a handle here, to assist in family communications.”

13. Rogers had a special way of talking to kids.

Mr. Rogers knew children well. He knew how they thought, what they liked, what they feared, and what they struggled to understand—and he went to great lengths to ensure he never upset or confused his devoted viewers.Mr. Rogers knew children well. He knew how they thought, what they liked, what they feared, and what they struggled to understand—and he went to great lengths to ensure he never upset or confused his devoted viewers.

Maxwell King, author of the forthcoming book The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, wrote in The Atlantic that Mr. Rogers carefully chose his words while filming Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He understood that children think in a literal way, and a phrase that might sound perfectly fine to adult ears could be misinterpreted by younger audiences.

Rogers was “extraordinarily good at imagining where children’s minds might go,” King said, adding that Mr. Rogers wrote a song called “You Can Never Go Down the Drain” because he knew this might be a fear shared by many children.

14. Rogers used King Friday to make Friday the 13th less scary for kids.

King Friday XIII, son of King Charming Thursday XII and Queen Cinderella Monday, is an avid arts lover, a talented whistler, and a former pole vaulter. He reigns over Calendarland with lots of pomp and poise, and he’s usually correct.

Fans of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood may also remember that King Friday XIII, who reigned over Calendarland, was born on Friday the 13th, because his birthday was celebrated on the program every Friday the 13th. Though the math isn’t perfect—according to Timeanddate.com , Friday the 13th sometimes happens two or three times a year—the reason behind it absolutely is.

Rogers explained that he wanted to give children a reason to look forward to Friday the 13th, instead of buying into the negative superstitions that surround the dreaded date. “We thought, ‘Let’s start children out thinking that Friday the 13th was a fun day,’” he said in a 1999 interview. “So we would celebrate his birthday every time a Friday the 13th came.”

15. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Rogers was an ordained minister who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a 6-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

16. Rogers was not a fan of foul language.

If Rogers used the word mercy, it probably meant that he was feeling overwhelmed. He was typically heard saying it when he sat down at his desk in the morning and saw the mountain of fan mail awaiting him. But mercy was about the strongest word in his vocabulary.

17. Rogers was not a fan of television, which is why he gravitated toward it.


Rogers’s decision to work in television wasn’t out of a love for the medium. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

18. There's a reason why the stoplight is always yellow in the opening sequence to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

In the opening sequence of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the stoplight is always on yellow as a reminder to kids—and their parents—to slow down a little.

19. Rogers believed that patience was a virtue—even if it meant dead air time.

Rogers wasn't afraid of dead air: He once invited a marine biologist onto the show and put a microphone into his fish tank, because he wanted the kids at home to see (and hear) that fish make sounds when they eat. While taping the segment, however, the fish weren't hungry so the marine biologist started trying to egg the fish on. But Rogers just sat there, waiting quietly. The crew figured they'd need to re-tape it, but Rogers didn't want to. He thought it was a great lesson in teaching kids the importance of being patient.

20. Rogers always made sure to announce that he was feeding his fish for a very specific reason.

Rogers always mentioned out loud that he was feeding his fish because a young blind viewer once asked him to do so. She wanted to know the fish were OK.

21. Rogers was not a fan of ad-libbing.

Rogers was a perfectionist, and very much disliked ad-libbing. He felt that he owed it to the kids who watched his show to make sure that every word on his show was thought out.

22. Kids who watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood retained more than those who watched Sesame Street.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

23. Animals loved Rogers as much as people did.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understood 2000 English words, was an avid fan, too. When Rogers visited once her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

24. Rogers's mother knitted all of his sweaters.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he said.

25. One of rogers's sweaters lives in the Smithsonian.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

26. Rogers's sweater collection was actually challenging to maintain.

Fred's mother, Nancy Rogers, died in 1981. Rogers continued wearing the sweaters she had made for years ... until it became obvious that they wouldn’t endure many more tapings of the show. Replacements were sought, but art director Kathy Borland quickly discovered that the search was not unlike trying to replace Superman’s cape. A Fred Rogers sweater needed a zipper with a smooth operation so it wouldn’t snag on camera. It also needed to be vibrant.

Nothing fit the bill until Borland saw a United States Postal Service employee walking down the street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—where the show taped—and took note of his cardigan. Borland phoned postal supply distributors and was able to secure a fresh inventory of sweaters (which she bought white, and then dyed) that kept Rogers looking like himself through the show’s final episode in 2001.

27. Rogers changed into sneakers as a production practicality.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a production-related consideration. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

28. He invited the driver who took him to a PBS dinner to eat with them.

While being transported to a PBS executive's house, Rogers heard his limo driver say that he was going to have to wait outside for two hours while the party dined—so Rogers insisted that the driver join them for dinner.

On the ride back home, Rogers sat in the front of the car with the driver, who mentioned that they were passing his house on their way back to Rogers's home. So Rogers asked if they could stop in to meet the family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life: Rogers played piano for the family and chatted with them until late into the night.

29. No, Rogers was never a sniper.

The internet has stirred up all sorts of bizarre rumors about Rogers, including one that he served in the army and was a sniper in Vietnam and another that he served in the army and was a sniper in Korea. As exciting as that might make an upcoming biopics, these are both untrue.

30. Rogers was partly responsible for helping to save public television.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

31. Rogers also helped to save the VCR.

Years after he appeared before the Senate, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement. Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

32. At least one professor believes that rogers's impact on kids wasn't all that positive.

LSU professor Don Chance is one of the few people who isn't 100 positive about Rogers's legacy: He believes that Rogers created a, "culture of excessive doting" which resulted in generations of lazy, entitled college students.

33. He was regularly parodied—and loved every second of it.

Rogers was regularly parodied, and he loved it. The first time Eddie Murphy met Mr. Rogers, he couldn't stop himself from giving the guy a big hug.

34. Rogers was colorblind.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

"Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup."

35. Michael Keaton got his start on MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

36. Rogers gave George Romero his first paying gig, too.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Night of the Living Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made."

37. Rogers paid a visit to Sesame Street in 1981.

Though Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street were both PBS shows, they were technically competitors—though the show’s producers didn’t exactly act like it. As a result, Rogers made an appearance on Sesame Street in May 1981.

The video opens with Rogers wearing a suit and tie instead of his usual cardigan sweater. He's standing outside of a storefront when Big Bird approaches and asks if he’ll judge a race between him and Snuffy. (The theme of the segment was competition and, more importantly, maintaining friendships whether you win or lose.)

38. He made a guest appearance on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, too.

Rogers once played a pastor's mentor on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.

39. Many of the characters on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood were named after people in Rogers's life.

McFeely, for example, was Rogers's grandfather's name; Queen Sara was named for Rogers's wife.

40. Rogers got his own stamp in 2018.


USPS

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp with Rogers's image on it. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

41. He was turned into a Funko Pop!

Also in honor of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood 50th anniversary, the kindest soul to ever grace a television screen was honored with a series of Funko toys, including a Funko Pop! figure.

Ready to learn more about Fred Rogers? Watch the video below, where John Green brings you a whole pile of things you should know about everybody's favorite neighbor.

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