By Jessica Skelton
Once relegated to the realm of superheroes and teenie-boppers, comics are now emerging as form of academic and literary expression. As an increasing part of the curriculum in classes at UC Santa Cruz, some say comic books and graphic novels are moving toward being accepted as legitimate parts of the literature cannon.Last Wednesday, Oct. 25 the first-ever UCSC Comic Book Library opened at Porter College. Students and faculty alike lined up at the Bridge Gallery of the Porter Dining Hall awaiting the opening. The library contains a wide variety of comics, including Alan Moore graphic novels (V for Vendetta) and Frank Miller’s (Sin City, Batman). Perry Radford and Sophia Yanow are the brains behind the Comic Library. Radford, a literature major and Yanow, an art major, drew the inspiration from a trip Yanow made to Reed College in Oregon, where she was inspired by the campus’ comics reading room. "One of the biggest things I want to do with this is elevate the form of comics because it is also a literary form," Yanow said. "People don’t realize that it is a medium rather than a genre."Yanow began by simply lending out her own collection of comics to friends and fellow appreciators. Yanow pitched the idea of a permanent library to Radford last winter, and found an eager partner.Radford and Yanow met with various members of the Porter staff and faculty and found that their idea was welcome with open arms. They proposed the idea to the Porter Senate and received grant money to help fund the project.Radford and Yanow have the Bridge Gallery at their disposal until Thanksgiving. To ensure the future of the Comic Library, Radford and Yanow are writing a proposal to relocate the library to a more permanent location within Porter. They hope to move the comics library to the Porter Study Center.Megan McElroy, the Porter Assistant College Programs coordinator, has helped Yanow and Radford launch thier program."They approached us and we decided to sponsor [the library] because it appealed to a wide variety of people," McElroy said. "And through this we realized that there is a huge following of comic books that we did not even know about."Most of the comics in the Porter Comics Library have been donated by friends, and comic enthusiasts, including some from Radford and Yanow’s personal collections. The library currently has about 100 comics on display. Although there are still a few notable gaps in the library, including a lack of Marvel Comics, the two hope that donations will help fill in the void over time.With such a wide variety of comics in the library, Radford and Yanow hope comic fans will be encouraged to expand their interests to different types of comics."There were some definite X-Men [Marvel] fans in here the other day but then they started asking me about other comics," Radford said.The girls hope that the Comic Library will also become a comfortable and popular destination for students to come to study and hang out. "There is a lot of different stuff going on at UCSC and especially within the Porter core course, that are bringing in more and more graphic novels and comic books into the curriculum," Perry said.Together the girls aspire to open up a doorway to existing and potential comic fans and break down the preconceived negative notions surrounding comic books.