Mark Glassy ’78 has collected more than 100,000 science fiction items in nearly half a century.
But the cancer researcher’s passion for the genre doesn’t end there. He also spends most of his evenings sculpting figurines that capture scenes from his favorite science fiction films, most notably “Frankenstein.”
His science fiction creations and a selection of his collectibles will be on display in a special exhibit titled “Mark Glassy and Frankenstein: Men of Many Parts” at UC Riverside’s Tomás Rivera Library’s Special Collections and University Archives in honor of the 200thanniversary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”
The 12-week exhibit on the fourth floor of the library will feature guided tours with Glassy. There will be four in October, including one on Halloween, and two more in November. Visitors who arrive at the Special Collections and University Archives will hear how his fandom grew over the decades and learn how his creations evolve from a sketch to an actual piece of art. Included in the exhibit are sculptures, comic books, posters and other science fiction and horror collectables.
All events are free and open to the public, but RSVPs are recommended since space is limited:
- Guided tours with Mark Glassy: frankenstein-tours.eventbrite.com
Glassy’s connection to UCR goes back to 1975 when he started his doctoral research in biochemistry studying B-lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that support the immune system by fighting off germs and diseases. For the past 37 years, he’s been working at UC San Diego, most recently taking a role as a visiting scholar at UCSD’s Moores Cancer Center. One of Glassy’s main contributions to the fight against cancer is the development of pritumumab, a pharmaceutical drug designed to treat brain cancer, which has been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for review, he said. He also writes articles for the scientific journal he founded, Human Antibodies.
When Glassy heard UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox speak during a San Diego reception two years ago, he was impressed with UCR’s growth, diversity, and its mission to support first-generation students while simultaneously supporting faculty who conduct world-class research.
Glassy sees a connection between his two passions: finding a cure for brain cancer and science fiction.
“In terms of the research environment, I cannot separate the two, science and science fiction. It’s impossible for me. When I’m at the lab, I’m still making analogies and metaphors,” said Glassy, who has authored three books: “The Biology of Science Fiction Cinema” (2001, McFarland), “Movie Monsters in Scale” (2010, McFarland), and “Biology Run Amok!” (2018, McFarland).
Shelves line the walls of his home office, holding thousands of cherished items from throughout science fiction history, including “B-9,” the robot from “Lost in Space,” R2-D2, a “Superman” comic book collection from 1950s, an 1831 edition of “Frankenstein,” and a life-size version of the titular “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” to name only a few.
“No matter how hectic, how stressful my day has been, when I walk into my room, it all washes away,” said the 66-year-old Glassy. “I can’t help but smile.”
Glassy’s work and collection “are the things that make him a ‘mad doctor,’” said JJ Jacobson, UCR’s Jay Kay and Doris Klein Science Fiction librarian, who curated the exhibit with Cherry Williams, director of distinctive collections within UCR Library’s Special Collections and University Archives.
“Mark has the kind of vision, passion, energy, and concentration that make it really fortunate for the rest of us is that he’s not the kind of mad doctor who wants to rule the world. Instead, he’s mad for science fiction, comic books, and horror movies; absolutely mad about the range and power of the human imagination, and, of course, really mad at cancer,” Jacobson added. “There are many collectors out there who love ‘Frankenstein,’ there are many model makers who do wonderful work, but what sets the material in ‘Men of Many Parts’ apart is all that combined with Mark’s incredible eye for detail, the scientific understanding with which he views the popular culture of monsters, and his extraordinarily wacky sense of humor.”
Meet Mark Glassy
Family: The youngest of three children. He has been married for 44 years to Donna Glassy, and together they have three children.
Books: He is the author of three books, “The Biology of Science Fiction Cinema” (2001, McFarland); “Movie Monsters in Scale” (2010, McFarland); and “Biology Run Amok!” (2018, McFarland).
Favorite movie: “Metropolis” (1927)
First comic book purchased: “Superman”
First science fiction movie he watched: “Earth vs. Flying Saucer” (1956)
“Mark Glassy and Frankenstein: Men of Many Parts”
Oct. 9 and 12: Guided tours, 11 a.m.-noon; 1-2p.m.
Oct. 29 and 31: Guided tours, 11 a.m.-noon; 1-2p.m.
Nov. 13 and 16: Guided tours, 11 a.m.-noon; 1-2p.m.
*NOTE: All guided tours will take place in the Tomás Rivera Library’s Special Collections and University Archives, 4thfloor.