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Davis, California

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Graphic novels on display in Shields Library exhibit

Comics aren’t just for Superman anymore. An exhibit of autobiographical comic books entitled “Sometimes a mere glance will do … ” is currently on display in Peter J. Shields Library. The exhibit showcases various comic books about authors and their different walks of life, perceptions of life and places in society.

Located in the lobby of the library until Oct. 31, the exhibit shows many different books with colorfully illustrated covers, off-the-wall titles and insight about the history of comics. Through autobiographical works, the exhibit focuses on more realistic, relatable, non-fiction work rather than more traditional and fantastical comics.

Curator and librarian Roberto C. Delgadillo holds the subject of comics close to his heart.

“For many people, the thought of comic books brings to mind superheroes, especially given the glut of Hollywood attention they receive,” Delgadillo said.

Delgadillo referenced what one writer wrote about the subject: “I equate reading an autobiographical comic with the occurrence of a stranger handing you his diary, staring meaningfully into your eyes and saying, ‘I want you to read this … all of it. Oh, and just so you know, I drew pictures of everything that happened, too.'”

Some of the authors of these comics used their work to come to terms with their ‘demons.’ Delgadillo said some of the books were a way for the authors to heal while overcoming obsessions with worldly things, conflicts with religion, coming of age and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

Delgadillo said he believes exhibits such as “Sometimes a mere glance will do … ” add dimension to the library’s atmosphere. He said these autobiographical comics are meant to make a connection between the author and the reader.

Utilizing his own personal collection, he hopes to encourage this connection amongst UC Davis students while highlighting the library’s graphic novel collection.

“Beyond the value of graphic novels as scholarly and cultural resources, an academic library that collects comics and graphic novels is also continuing in a tradition of providing resources for students and others in the academic community who are looking for reading material not only to enhance their scholarship or teaching, but also to enjoy for personal pleasure and recreation,” Delgadillo said.

“The common view of the academic library is that its purpose is to support the academic program of the institution, but libraries have always had a reading agenda as well.”

Fellow librarian David Michalski sees the exhibit as a good way to show off library materials and get people interested in new topics.

“This exhibit is a collection that was well-thought out and hand-picked. We put care into what we have,” Michalski said. “It was assembled for a certain message and I think Roberto did a good job showing unique library material that often gets lost or stolen.”

Laura Armero, junior Chicano studies major, said she found the exhibit interesting. She says it will encourage her to take a closer look at autobiographical comics and research them more.

“I noticed the exhibit entering the Shields Library. It’s a good place to put it because it can catch students’ attention,” Armero said. “I think it is creative. These autobiographies are definitely inspiring and I recommend that students take a look at the exhibit.”

Other sections of the library are also home to comic books. Japanese manga can be found on the fourth floor, along with other well-known comics.

Michalski said that the exhibit exposes viewers to a different artistic medium – and a different way of writing – than they may be used to.

“This exhibit should inspire people to write their own stories since they see other people who write about how they see themselves in society through comics,” he said. “In college, it’s a good time to pick up a journal.”

More information on “Sometimes a mere glance will do … ” can be found at www.lib.ucdavis.edu.

LEA MURILLO can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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