Despite being our shortest month, February has managed to cultivate a number of popular events: Black History Month, Groundhog's, Valentine's and President's Days, and depending on the vicissitudes of the lunar calendar, Mardi Gras and Carnaval. And if we can believe that melting pot of lies Wikipedia this once, there are a number of other celebrations occurring throughout the month. We are (or ought to be and shame on you if you aren't) enjoying a hot breakfast, counting birds in our backyards and shaking our booties.
Display organizers at Gleeson Library seem to have no idea. Instead of going with one of these traditional February events as a theme to their monthly display, they have opted to feature graphic novels. They are well stocked with work by all the favorites: DC, Marvel, Dan Clowes, Art Spiegelman, the 9/11 Commission. Ah, 9/11 Commission? This little surprise is just one of the many books which serve to remind us these aren't the comics we remember from childhood. The Gleeson display itself is yet another reminder that comics are branching out. Lloyd Affholter, a librarian at Gleeson whose desk post has a tremendous view of the display has called this the most popular exhibit he's seen in a while.
Whether most students are already interested in the books when they come in is difficult to gauge, but I can say I had minimal to no interest in graphic novels when I checked out a copy of Dan Clowes's Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. I was aware that the same author was responsible for the graphic novel Ghost World which was adapted into the movie of the same name and friends had insisted I read his other work. Like with many things (such as class assignments) I dragged my feet on making it happen but when I finally sat down to read it (as a class assignment), I was halfway through in less than an hour. The artwork, story and writing all combined very nicely to create a quickly paced read and an experience which isn't quite like any other medium; it's as close to cinematic as print can get. So in this month already packed with distractions, credit goes to Dan Clowes for grabbing my interest with something relatively exciting and new.