Guilty Pleasures

Comic books aren't just for kids anymore. That's really been true for a long, long time, from the day they started zipping comics up in plastic bags and calling them collectors' items. But the rise in the last few decades of the graphic novel, an inventive form that covers endless miles of literary ground, from often-confessional autobiographies to illustated flights of fancy, sealed the deal. On one hand, they're like adult picture books, but on the other hand, they're accomplished and often sophisticated literary works.

So, that said, leave it to a college professor to research the link between today's contemporary graphic novel and books from medieval times. CU-Boulder's William Kuskin, whose expertise in literary history covers both ends of the timeline, has done just that, pointing out that both genres were designed to make the written word accessible to everyone, and both combine words and art.

Power to the people: Kuskin is now celebrating the modern form with an exhibit, Graphia: Comics, Graphic Novels and the Humanities on the Front Range, which opens today at the UMC Art Gallery, Broadway and Euclid (second floor, UMC, CU-Boulder campus), Boulder, and continues through February 13. Featuring rare comics and comic art from private collectors in Boulder and the Front Range, Graphia is also accompanied by a special issue of the CU English department journal, English Language Notes, inspired by the concept of the graphic novel, as well as a catalogue compiled by Kuskin.

Get your grownup vibe on, comics lovers: In addition to the show, which opens formally with a reception and gallery talk from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. January 15, a free talk with renowned graphic novelist Art Spiegelman takes place on campus at Macky Auditorium at 4:30 p.m. January 25. And a comic-art auction will close the exhibit on February 13. For more information log on to call 303-492-6161.
Mondays-Fridays. Starts: Jan. 12. Continues through Feb. 13, 2009

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd

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