Comics: A Very Serious Matter!

Whether one looks at comics as art, as a social critique, as a vibrant modern form of expression, as a means to question and subvert the status-quo, there is no doubt that the history of comics is a history of controversies. Long considered a marginal art, comics have however gained grounds over the past decade: while many comics are humorous and thus do remind us why comics are called comics, comics have indeed become a very serious matter. They are now broadly integrated into academia across Europe and North America, and are gaining following in the academic and scholarly Arab world as well.

Conscious of the great potential and ability of comics to capture the "pulse of the time", many academics now consider comics a rich subject of study, one worthy of studying across disciplines, and from a variety of perspectives. Advocates of the ninth art, both within and outside academia, believe that because comics shed light on many questions, concepts, ideas, historical periods, social and economic issues, power relations, etc. across disciplines: comics and classics; comics and politics; comics and literature; comics and history; comics and gender; comics and urbanism; comics and architecture, etc., they are specially fit to support liberal arts curricula. A plethora of subjects and perspectives seems to open up to educators and students alike, in a novel, engaging, contextual and meaningful manner.

In this exhibit, we focus on some of these questions from the perspective of Arab comics, digging into the wealth of material afforded to us through our growing AUB University Library Comics collection, hoping to open up a realm of discovery onto worlds of comics to be enjoyed and to be taken very seriously!

Exhibit Curators: Kaoukab Chebaro and Hana Sleiman.

Acknowledgements: Special thanks go to Sara Jawad for her support in design, to Yasmine Younes for her background research, patience and support; to Ghofran Akil for the long hours she put in the design products, and most of all to Lina Ghaibeh for her relentless hard work and unwavering support throughout the planning and realization of the exhibit, and for ehr contgaious enthusiasm for Arab comics!. Many thanks go to the Mu'taz and Rada Sawwaf Arabic Comics Initiative for supporting the exhibit and the development of our Library Comics Collection.

American University of Beirut / University Libraries / Bliss Street / P.O.Box 11-0236 / Riyad El-Solh, Beirut 11072020 Lebanon / asc@aub.edu.lb