Sunday, July 05, 2009

"The Cresting Wave: San Francisco Underground Comix Experience": 7/10-8/22, 2009

Anyone have a spare airline or train ticket to SF? Looks like a great show. Thanks to ComicsDC's Mike Rhode for this info!FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Dan Fogel, comixpr[at]

The Cresting Wave:
The San Francisco Underground Comix Experience
July 10 — August 22, 2009
Electric Works
130 8th Street, San Francisco, CA // 415 626 5496

Electric Works is pleased to present "The Cresting Wave: The San Francisco Underground Comix Experience," a group exhibition featuring underground comix artists from San Francisco, from the mid-'60's to the late '80's. Artists included are Mark Bode, Vaughn Bode, Guy Colwell, R. Crumb, Jay Kinney, Paul Mavrides, Dan O'Neill, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Larry Todd, Randy Vogel, and S. Clay Wilson. Culling work from private collectors and the artists themselves, guest curator, Underground Comix writer, publisher and historian Dan Fogel has amassed important work from each artist that spans personal drawings, well-known comix pieces, including covers and original comps, as well as other rare ephemera from the heyday of the San Francisco scene.

San Francisco was the birthplace of the underground comix scene in the mid 1960's: nowhere else on the planet was there such an concentration of talent, vision, and production. In a relatively short time, the artists who coalesced in the Bay Area changed the face of popular culture forever. Taking on issues of politics, race, sexuality, drugs, counterculture of the time, and intellectual property, these artists were able to push the bounds of propriety, "decency" and imagery more drastically than in any other medium of the era.

Complementing the robust gallery show, Electric Works will feature many other important pieces by the artist which will be available for viewing during the course of the exhibition in our flat files. In addition, Electric Works will be publishing limited edition prints, mini-prints, and a collaborative "jam" print featuring many of the artists in the exhibition, proceeds of which will benefit the S. Clay Wilson Special Needs Trust, benefiting their friend, who is recovering from serious injuries.
"Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime... the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. ...
"So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark -- that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."
-- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream, 1971.
Postcard graphic:
Jay Kinney, "Ronald's Rampage" (image for City Magazine), 1974
17 1/2 x 13". Ink, pencil, contact film on bristol board.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Exhibit Announcement: True Stories by Phillip Marsden

For an exhibit showing later this year. Posted on behalf of the Riverside Gallery.

True Stories by Phillip Marsden
Exhibition at the Riverside Gallery, Richmond UK
12 September - 28 November 2009
A retrospective look at cartoon and comic strip works from the last five years, including Clam & Elgar, Aesop's Fables, the collaborative Blackout and the occasional True Stories series, chronicling curious instances from the artist's daily life, presented here in its entirety for the first time.

More information:
Riverside Gallery's exhibition page
The Arts Service at Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ
Image credit: Cartoon by Phillip Marsden, from exhibition page.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

"The Incredible Mr. Poe: Edgar Allan Poe in the Comics" at The Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Posted on behalf of my good friend M. Thomas Inge, an expert not only on American Literature-based comics but also on too many other topics to recount here... [Feb. 19 Update: Note the updated information on the opening reception, below.]
In 1941, Russian immigrant Albert Lewis Kanter tried to introduce young people in the United States to fine literature by incorporating the classics into something they were already reading—comic books. In 1944, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" appeared in Kanter’s Classic Comics series, and ever since adaptations of both Poe and his works have been regular features in comic books and graphic novels, many of which will be on display April 25 to October 31 at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Poe has even appeared as a comics hero himself alongside Batman and Scooby Doo.

M. Thomas Inge, Blackwell Professor of Humanities at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, and Poe Foundation trustee, has studied comic art for over forty years and published several books on the subject. His collection of comic books from childhood will form the core of the upcoming exhibition which is curated by Richmond artist Chris Semtner.

Also featured will be original artwork by such comic artists and illustrators as Rick Geary, Richard Corben, Gahan Wilson, Gris Grimly, Bill Griffith, and Patrick McDonnell, as well as proof sheets and original pages for some of the Classics Illustrated and other comic book versions loaned by collector Jim Vacca of Boulder, Colorado. An illustrated book and catalog will be available for purchase from the Museum Gift Shop with proceeds going to the Museum.

This will be the first exhibition ever devoted to the comic books and graphic narratives that have helped keep Poe’s name and works in the public eye for over sixty years. An opening reception will be held Friday evening April 25, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., and there will also be an introductory lecture Thursday evening April 24, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., with an Unhappy Hour, food, and music, free and open to the public. All events are open to the public. The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is located at 1914 East Main Street, Richmond, Virginia 23223, phone 804 648-5523. For more information contact Rebecca Jones at becca [at] or call toll free (888) 21EAPOE.
Image from the brilliant Michael Kupperman's equally brilliant book "Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret".

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dissecting the Crossroads of Infinity

The Sunday Arts section of The New York Times often features a "Close Reading" of artwork currently on display in the city. Today, commemorating the opening of the traveling exhibition "Masters of American Comics," critic George Gene Gustines turns his critical eye toward the work of Jack Kirby - specifically, images from the landmark comic book Fantastic Four #51, cover-dated June, 1966. The column is reproduced as an interactive slideshow at the Times' website (link also currently available off this page).

Gustines does a fine job of highlighting some of "King" Kirby's techniques and quirks in this brief overview, from the cartoonist's fondness for collage (never reproduced adequately in the original comic books) to his fantastic machinery designs. (If only he'd been able to cover some Kirby Krackle, as well!)

Since you can read Gustines' comments at the link, I thought I'd take the opportunity to showcase a few more images from this story. First, for comparison, here's the collage example discussed in the article as it was originally published. When you compare it to the article's recolored version, you can see how 1960s-era comic book publication techniques did Kirby's photo collages no favors:

When it comes to machine design, the article's curiously labeled "Deep Closets" example can't compare to one of my favorite Kirby machines of all time, also conveniently featured in this issue - in fact, it's the machine Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) designs to allow him to travel to the "world of limitless dimensions" above:

And finally, no discussion - however brief - of FF #51 should ignore the issue's iconic splash page, featuring a rain-soaked, silent portrait of Ben Grimm (The Thing). True, there's some of Stan Lee's trademark, over-the-top editorial matter plastered on the page, but in terms of the story itself, the image remains silent. The absence of dialogue or even narration renders the drawing a portrait of isolation - an isolation further enhanced by the nighttime rain shower which pelts the pavement and the morose Grimm alike.

Lee rarely passed up the opportunity for snappy dialogue or "hipper-than-hip" narration, here he wisely allows Kirby's artwork to speak for itself. The somber tone perfectly prepares the reader for the story that follows, a superhero story in which "super powers" are used only twice: once when the impostor-Thing crushes a small metal canister, and once when Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, reluctantly sets his thumb ablaze to satisfy the curiosity of his gawking, fellow college students.

Here's hoping Gustines' article piques the curiosity of Times-readers who might otherwise have passed up the opportunity to visit this show. Masters of American Comics is on display until January 28th, 2007, with half at The Newark Museum (Masters Info) and half (including Kirby) at The Jewish Museum (Masters Info). The latter also is hosting a companion exhibit, Superheroes: Good and Evil in American Comics. Having missed the "Masters" exhibit's previous stops in Los Angeles and Milwaukee, I hope to visit these soon.

Update: Wow, I can't believe I forgot to mention the monumental exhibit catalog (perhaps because I haven't got a copy yet, myself):
Masters of American Comics. Ed. John Carlin, Paul Karasik, and Brian Walker. Yale University Press, 2005. 328pp.
Image credits: Top, the Times website; the rest are reproduced from the 44 Years of Fantastic Four dvd-rom. As noted on the FF images, they're all ™ and © 2005 Marvel.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Canada's "Conceptual Comics" & "Comic Craze"

The Canadian city Banff, in Alberta, sounds like a must-see destination for comics connoisseurs this summer - specifically, the exhibits and programming at the Banff Center's Walter Phillips Gallery.

First up: Conceptual Comics (April 27 - August 3), "a survey of over 50 books drawn from the inventory of Printed Matter, Inc., the artists' bookstore located in New York City." Consisting of artist's books that employ comics conventions, this one should be of interest to anyone interested in the formal aspects of comic art, particularly OuBaPo fans (en français ), as well as to book arts aficionados. Curator's tour Thursday, May 4, 7:00 p.m.

The other exhibit, "Comic Craze" (May 4 - September 3) focuses on French- and English-language comics from across Canada. Cartoonists include, among others, Marc Bell, Rupert Bottenberg, Shary Boyle, Chester Brown, Geneviève Castrée, David Collier, Rebecca Dart, Jeff Lemire, Billy Mavreas, Marc Ngui, Joe Ollman, Michel Rabagliati, Seth, Rick Trembles, and Maurice Vellekoop. This one appears to be pretty large, and conducive to reading, not just looking at, some great work:
For this exhibition, the Gallery is being transformed into a reading space. A black and white woodland forest, filled with luminous snails and hundreds of comic books, 'zines, and mini-comics accessible for on-site reading, is the stage for a unique experience in appreciating the visual and literary pleasure of reading comics.
Curator'’s Tour May 8, 6:00 p.m.; Opening Reception May 20, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.; Exhibition Tour July 7, 7:30 p.m.

In conjunction with this exhibit, the Banff Centre will host the Comic Craze Symposium from May 4 - May 6. The list of featured speakers includes artists, scholars, curators, publishers, and fans, so it promises to offer wide-ranging appeal. One particularly interesting feature, given the recents (and welcome!) spate of comics gallery exhibits, is a session on "Curating Comics," designed to "provide an opportunity to discuss and debate the strategies that are currently used to represent this field of visual culture."

Unless someone has some airfare to spare, we'd appreciate any and all visitor's reports on these events.

Above: "Between Gentlemen" (excerpt), Rupert Bottenberg, 2003. Extra-special mega-thanks to The Queen of Everything for letting me know about these shows!

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