Graphic Novels as Literature – Part 2 | Episode 014

October 15, 2015

During part 2 of Infinite Gestation’s two part series entitled “Graphic Novels as Literature”, special guest Matt Bird delves into the Big Three (The Dark Night Returns by Frank Miller, Maus by Art Spiegelman & Watchmen by Alan Moore).

Across the decades, comic books have evolved into a form to be reckoned with and deserve a closer look. In tandem, a selection of authors and illustrators have pushed the medium to its limits (and beyond), often presenting themes, social issues and the hard questions — without the legitimacy that prose fiction has enjoyed for many years. Perhaps now is the time to give graphic novels the chance to be called literature.

The 1980’s saw comic books come into their own with mature themes and subject matter aimed primarily at an adult audience. This ultimately led to a trend in graphic narrative whereby creators and readers began to favor quality writing alongside the talent of illustrators. This era brought about the publications of the Big Three (along with a selection of other works) that sought to utilize the medium to explore contemporary social issues.

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Matt Bird curated an exhibit in the fall of 2011 at IU-Bloomington’s Lilly Library titled “The Character of Ernest Hemingway.” The exhibit utilized Hemingway’s letters, photographs, typed manuscripts with edits, and artifacts of the Army’s investigation into EH’s activities during World War II to foster a discussion of Hemingway’s personal curation and control of his image. Matt holds an MLS, specializing in Rare Books and Manuscripts, from IU-Bloomington and is currently finishing an MA in Literature at Indiana State University.

His reading interests, at the moment (fiction, non-fiction, etc), touch on graphic novels as literature (Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Brian K. Vaughan), book culture and printing/book-selling history (Umberto Eco, Arturo Perez-Reverte, Nicholas Basbanes), the Lost Generation and the fiction produced by them (Hemingway, Fitzgerald) and catching up on the O. Henry Prize Stories.

Matt taught courses over the last two years at Indiana State University on the subjects of classical mythology, the history of the physical book and its use in fiction, and the history/evolution of libraries.

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