Rich Egger’s guest on Emphasis is Library Specialist Greg Phelps of the Malpass Library at Western Illinois University. They talk about graphic novels and the growing collection of those books at Malpass.
Phelps said the library now has nearly 600 graphic novels.
“There are a lot of great stories that are told through those and are really being recognized as a new way of expressing art and literature in our society,” Phelps said. “I think folks are missing out if they think it’s just a comic book collection. No, it’s not. It’s a work of literature.”
Phelps said there are differences between comic books and graphic novels. He said graphic novels can tell longer stories arcs and he feels graphic novels deal more frankly with issues such as sexuality and violence.
In addition, comics are usually fiction while graphic novels can be either fiction or non-fiction. Some well-known graphic novels that deal with real life matters include Maus by Art Spiegelman and Our Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, and Frank Stack.
Phelps said academics are beginning to recognize how graphic novels can be used in the classroom.
“It’s another way to tell a story. Finally folks are kind of opening their eyes to how the visual and the literary match up with each other,” Phelps said.
“You’re getting them taught in high schools and elementary schools. There’s quite a series on Shakespeare’s literature, and it’s a way to introduce children in the schools to it. They think they’re reading a comic book or a graphic novel but they’re actually learning about English literature that way.”
Phelps said the library purchased some of the graphic novels in its collection while others were donated. Phelps said he donated some from his personal collection because he wants to see the library’s collection grow.