Mark Nevins '86 Donates Large Graphic Novel Collection to College

The former Fenwick Scholar gave a gift of more than 1,000 titles, and will continue to contribute to the collection.

Mark Nevins '86 has loved comic books and graphic novels since he was a child, much to the chagrin of his father, Albert "Al" Nevins '59.

"My dad, who went on to Boston College law school after he graduated from Holy Cross, was a great reader — later in life, a professor of philosophy and theology — and he would come in often and see me reading comics and say, 'Why are you reading these comics? These are going to ruin your brain. Read some good books, don’t read these comics,'" recalled Nevins in remarks given on campus in April 2018.

"On the day when I graduated with my Ph.D., I went over to my dad and I gave him a hug and I said, 'Look, a Ph.D. in English from Harvard — the comic books didn't screw me up too badly.'"

In addition to nurturing his love of comic books and graphic novels, Nevins — a Fenwick Scholar and English major at the College — has amassed a significant collection of the texts over the years. He donated a portion of his collection of graphic novels to the College in 2018. The starting donation includes 1,226 books and five periodicals; however, Nevins will continue to contribute to the collection

The collection is housed on the first floor of Dinand Library in the newly named Mark D. Nevins '86 Collection for the Study of Comics and Graphic Novels. With a grant from the H.W. Wilson Foundation, the space will be transformed into an interactive hub for students, faculty and staff to explore the collection. Both the collection and the new space were dedicated in a ceremony on April 9, 2018; Jorge Santos, assistant professor of English, is already using the collection as a part of a research project.

"The fun thing about graphic narrative research is that it touches multiple fields: literature, visual arts, history and cognitive science, to name a few," Santos says. "After all, graphic narrative is a medium, not a genre, and the novels cover every topic under the sun. You can use them to teach the relationship between image and text, as alternative literature or as nonfiction."

During his remarks to a room full of students, faculty, staff and alumni, Nevins recommended a few titles to members of the College community who are looking to dive into graphic novels.

"'Maus,' by Art Speigelman, without question. 'Persepolis' by Marjane Satrapi is also a very important piece, she's really blowing the side door wide open in the field. There's also a French publisher called Frémok, and it's a union of a Belgian group of cartoonists and a French group of cartoonists who mostly came out of non-college traditions. The work that they do is extremely informed by contemporary art, politics and social issues, and it's incredibly beautiful. Two of their books have just been published in English by the New York Review of Books — one is called 'Yellow Negroes and Other Imaginary Creatures,' and one of them is called 'Pretending is Lying.'"

Nevins, who works as a consultant and advisor to top executives, teams and organizations, also recently released a book, "What Happens Now? Reinvent Yourself as a Leader Before Your Business Outruns You" (SelectBooks, May 2018). Along with co-author John Hillen, Nevins examines the way leaders can see, test and overcome seven common leadership stalls that happen when a business evolves.

The book has been generating conversation in the field, with a mention in Forbes and articles co-written by Nevins and Hillen in MarketWatch and Quartz. You can read more about Nevins' new book here.