UPM book about R. Crumb in Museums

I was happy to hear that The Comics of R. Crumb: Underground in the Art Museum has been submitted to the University Press of Mississippi by the Editor, Daniel Worden. It looks to be a great collection of different views on the way Crumb is represented in exhibitions.

My own contribution, Viewing Crumb: Representations of R. Crumb in Art Museums, discusses what role Crumb plays in contemporary art and in a wide range of museum exhibitions, such as High & Low (MoMA, 1990), Masters of American Comics (Hammer & MoCA LA, 2005), Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Contemporary Drawings Collection (MoMA, 2009), The Phonus Balonus Show of Really Heavy Stuff (Corcoran Museum, 1969) Underground Classics (Chazen Museum, 2009), and Graphic Masters: Dürer, Rembrandt, Hogarth, Goya, Picasso, R. Crumb (Seattle Art Museum, 2016). The chapter also explores Crumb’s influence on contemporary feminist artists both negative (Trina Robbins) and positive (British feminists Margaret Harrison and Rebecca Warren).

R. Crumb.  God Wants me to Draw . Ink drawing on placemat. (2003). Collection of MoMA. Displayed with a Fritz the Cat book cover in the exhibition  Compass in Hand:Selections from the Judith Rothschild Contemporary Drawings Collection  .

R. Crumb. God Wants me to Draw. Ink drawing on placemat. (2003). Collection of MoMA. Displayed with a Fritz the Cat book cover in the exhibition Compass in Hand:Selections from the Judith Rothschild Contemporary Drawings Collection .

In July I will be participating in a roundtable discuss of this book at the Comics Studies Society’s annual conference at Ryerson University in Toronto, July 25 -28. I look forward to a wide ranging discussion with my fellow contributors to this volume.

Art & Museums draw a crowd at SDCF and Comic-Con Museum

Kim Munson, Adam Smith, Rob Salkowitz, and Mark Schultz on the Splashing Ink on Museum Walls panel at San Diego Comics Fest, March 2019. Photo by Eunice Verstegen.

Kim Munson, Adam Smith, Rob Salkowitz, and Mark Schultz on the Splashing Ink on Museum Walls panel at San Diego Comics Fest, March 2019. Photo by Eunice Verstegen.

The Museum Panel

Had a great time at San Diego Comic Fest this year. Our panel Splashing Ink on Museum Walls with Rob Salkowitz (moderator), cartoonist/illustrator Mark Schultz, SDCC Museum Executive Director Adam Smith, and myself was well-attended. We had a great discussion on several topics. After a brief intro, Rob led a discussion of recent shows that combined old master fine art and comics, like Botticelli and graphic novelist Karl Stevens in Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston).

We had a lengthy conversation about the issue of narrative, and different techniques used by artists and curators to display art and still pay attention to the storytelling function of comics. This was a special concern of Mark’s as his books contain complex stories. We talked about shows that display entire books, like Speigelman’s Co-Mix and Crumb’s Genesis, as well as shows that focused on shorter stories, covers, and a sequence of pages that show a story arc within a larger story.

Adam talked a bit about how the museum is developing and his excitement about having the museum’s first official opening night party for Cover Story just two nights prior to the panel (photos below). He also spoke about about the museum’s experiments with the concept of fan sourced exhibits, and about the strong grassroots support the museum is getting.

I talked a bit about history. Although we had a agreed to talk mostly about recent shows from the last five or six years, I made a quick detour into the 1930s and 40s, because people still think of comics shows as a new thing that has just appeared over the last decade. I also talked about the importance of seeing the original artwork with all the notes and marking for the viewing audience and for other artists.

In audience questions, one audience member accused us of dismissing the important MOMA show High & Low, which eventually led to Masters of American Comics, which was organized in response. The panel touched on it briefly. To me, High & Low and Masters are part of a two decade story that is hard to tell in a couple of sentences (I dedicate an entire section of my book to the dialog between these two shows).

Another audience member wondered if there had ever been a show of pop art style photographic blow-ups of comics panels. I told him that this was tried back in 1967 at the Louvre and no one has done a show exclusively of blow-ups since. Bande dessinee et figuration narrative , was organized by SOCCERLID, group of French intellectuals who loved American comics of the 30s and 40s, They used pop art style blow-ups of comics panels (Caniff, Hogarth, etc) in response to the comics based paintings of Roy Lichtenstein, whom they despised. After the show closed in Paris, it toured to several European capitals in the late 1960s. The Institute of Contemporary Art in London originally planned to have this show, but opted instead to assemble an exhibit of original art. By the mid-1970s, museums, curators, and artists decided that the blow-ups were inauthentic, were kind of insulting (a different way of turning comics into Pop Art), and missed all the elements that made comics unique, like layout and narrative. Audiences valued the aura of authenticity seen in the originals and they appreciated learning about the creative process through all the markings, white-out and other notations. Many shows use blow-ups to show detail or as a design element, but no one has ever done a show of nothing but Pop Art style blow-ups since. Even Masters of American Comics, which specifically focused on visual form, did not do this.

We were all grateful to the audience, who were intellectually engaged and curious throughout the panel.

Barbara “Willy” Mendes, Mark Bode, and Trina Robbins hold up copies of the “East Village Other” during the “Gothic Blimp Works” panel.

Barbara “Willy” Mendes, Mark Bode, and Trina Robbins hold up copies of the “East Village Other” during the “Gothic Blimp Works” panel.

Other Great Panels!

All attendees I spoke with were impressed with the selection of panels scheduled, as well as a robust dealer room and artist’s alley. I particularly enjoyed Urban Geography and Comics, led by Dr. Lisa Chaddock; The Beginnings of Modern Mythology, Pop Culture and Modern Superheroes and Villains an overview by David Lemmo; The 1950s Made Kurtzman MAD with Michael Dooley and Bill Schelly; Pioneers of Comix with Mary Gleener, Lee Marrs, Willy Mendes, and Trina Robbins; Ditko: An Arlen Schumer VisuaLecture; Mary Fleener’s First Graphic Novel “Billy the Bee” (one of my favorite panels) with Fleener, Mark Habegger, and James Nieh, PhD (a bee specialist); a special remembrance of Batton Lash, a pillar of SDCC, who was lost to us earlier this year, with Anina Bennett, Jackie Estrada, Mark Evenier, Paul Guinan, Rob Salkowitz, Artlen Schumer, and Scott Shaw!; Comics, Space Travels, to the Moon & Beyond with Michael Dooley and Benjamin Dickow; and spotlights on Vaughn Bode, Willy Mendes, and Mark Schultz. I wish I could have cloned myself to get to more!

Cover Story at the San Diego Comic-Con Museum

2019 marks 50 years of SDCC, making it the longest continuously run comics and pop culture convention in North America. This show displayed sketches, paintings, and finished versions for yearly souvenir books pulled from Comic-Con’s archives and private collections. The opening night party, open to Charter Members, included an Eisner Week panel in the Museum’s theatre with Jackie Estrada, IDW’s Scott Dunbier, moderated by Charles Brownstein of CBLDF. Aside from the theatre and the gallery set up for Cover Story, the museum is a cavernous, three story space awaiting a top to bottom remodel.

New Plat/Gold Comics Collection at SFSU Library

When I was writing my thesis for my MA at San Francisco State University in 2008, I actually had to bring in a selection of current scholarship to persuade my committee that comics were a real thing. I’m happy to say that times have changed, and they have added a minor in Comics Studies led by Eisner winner Nick Sousanis https://humanitiesliberalstudies.sfsu.edu/minor-comics-studies

Further, the SFSU Library is the recipient of a fascinating collection of Platinum and Golden Age comics from the first Superman comic (1939) to 1952, with an emphasis on adventure, war, and kid’s comics. These are all reader copies. Superman #1 for instance, is intact and fully readable but it’s missing the front cover. I can’t wait to see students handling these comics with white gloves.

I welcome this great new resource and hope to use it in future projects. The graphic was from the reception, but the collection can be viewed any weekday from 1-5 in the Library’s Special Collections Reading Room #460.

archive reception poster.jpg

SD Comics Fest and Eisner Week Event

3/6 in San Diego, Balboa Park; SD Comics Fest 3/7 - 10.

3/6 in San Diego, Balboa Park; SD Comics Fest 3/7 - 10.

I’m headed to San Diego Comics Fest to visit with friends and participate on a panel about comic art and museums:

Splashing Ink On Museum Walls: Comic Art on Display

Saturday, Mar 9, 2019, 3:00 PM (Palm B)

Comic art and comics are finally being recognized as worthy of display in galleries and museums. What are the best ways to present it to the public? How are new facilities like the Comic-Con Museum approaching their mission of education and entertainment? What does it mean for artists and the medium?

Join Comic-Con Museum Director Adam Smith, author/scholar Kim Munson, and award-winning artist Mark Schultz for a wide-ranging exploration of the issues, moderated by Rob Salkowitz. Here’s link to their site: https://www.sdcomicfest.org/

I’m looking forward to hearing from Adam how the San Diego Comic-Con Museum project is progressing. Weds night 3/6, the museum is organizing an Eisner Week event, which I will be attending:

Cover Story: The Art of Comic-Con 50 
Exhibit Opening Reception

March 6, 2019 6pm – 9pm
Future Home of the Comic-Con Museum 
2131 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park | San Diego, California 92101

“Cover Story: The Art of Comic-Con 50,” is a new exhibition at the future home of the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park. Explore the past 50 years of Comic-Con covers through striking examples of original art and process pieces that explore the creation of a cover, from thumbnail sketches to finished pencil and ink art to fully-colored finished pieces. Drawing from Comic-Con’s archives, the exhibition celebrates art as an integral tool in promoting the organization’s mission of creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular artforms. The exhibition includes pieces from talent as diverse as Jack Kirby, Bruce Timm, Dave McKean, Moebius and Steranko.

As one of the benefits of being a Charter Member of the Comic-Con Museum, you will have an opportunity to view this exhibit ahead of the general public, at the Museum’s first ever Exhibit Opening Reception from 6pm – 9pm, March 6, 2019.

8pm Special Program: Will Eisner & The Spirit of Service

In the Comic-Con Museum Theater

In addition to the opportunity to view Cover Story: The Art of Comic-Con 50, the Museum will also be hosting a special panel discussion honoring Will Eisner on what would have been his 102nd Birthday. The panel will take a focused look at Eisner’s life and work, while evaluating his commitment to education, military service, and professional development.

Update on "From Panels to Frames: Comic Art in Museums"

Around Thanksgiving 2018, I resubmitted a new draft of my upcoming book for University Press of Mississippi about the history, controversies, and trends in exhibits of comic art in art museums and university galleries between 1930 to the present. Over the summer, I got very positive peer reviews that also pointed out some gaps, and the Press decided to change the book’s format from a black & white reader to a full color art book. Because of this, I added some new essays, sourced lots of exhibition photos, and rewrote all of my section intros. Whew…

I am so grateful to the many helpful and enthusiastic contributors to this book. Definitely a labor of love! The text is about 50/50 new/totally revised or old/reprinted material. Here’s the current table of contents:

Foreword: Dr. Tom Inge

Foundations: Comic Art in Museums

Comic Art in Museums: An Overview: Denis Kitchen

Substance and Shadow: the Art of the Cartoon: Brian Walker

Permanent Ink: Comic Book and Comic-Strip Art as Aesthetic Object & Afterthoughts on Permanent Ink: Andrei Molotiu

Pioneers: Comic Art Exhibitions 1930 - 1967

The Evolution of Comic Art Exhibitions 1934-1951: Kim Munson

Narrative Illustration: the Story of the Comics: M. C. Gaines

The First International: ‘L Exposicao Internacional de Historias em Quadrinhos’: Alvaro de Moya

‘Bande dessinee et figuration narrative’: la contribution de Pierre Couperie: Antoine Sausverd (translated by Dr. Ann Miller)

The Renewed Focus on Comics as Art After 1970

The Comic Stripped and Ash Canned: a Review Essay: Albert Boime

Exhibitions at the Museum of Cartoon Art: A Personal Recollection & List of Exhibitions at the Museum of Cartoon Art: Brian Walker

Mort Walker, Historian: Cullen Murphy

Review/Art: Cartoon Masters - Cartoonists Finally Get Some Respect: Kenneth Baker

Comics, Community, and the Toonseum: an Interview with Joe Wos: Kim Munson

Expanding Views of Comic Art: Topics and Display

Northern Ink: Misfit Lit in Minneapolis: Diana Green

Our Heroes: African-American Artists and Images in the American Comic Book: Dwayne McDuffie

Deviating from ‘Art’: Japanese Manga Exhibitions 1990-2015: Jaqueline Berndt

The Glimmering Glow of Comic Art Amidst the Blinding Glitter of the United Arab Emirates: John A. Lent

Hypercomics: The Shape of Comics to Come: Paul Gravett

Sequential Titillation: Comics Stripped at the Museum of Sex, New York: Craig Yoe

Masters of High and Low: Exhibitions in Dialogue

Comic Connoisseurs: David Deicher

Comics as Art Criticism: The Cartoons of Jonah Kinigstein: Karen Green & Kim Munson

High Way Robbery & My Way Along the Highway: Michael Dooley

High Art Lowdown: This Review is Not Sponsored by AT&T: Art Spiegelman

How Low Can You Go?: John Carlin

Cracking the Comics Canon: Leslie Jones

An uneasy accord: L.A. museums open their walls to comics as true works of art. Is it long overdue, still an odd mix, or simply inviting cartoonists to a party they may not want to attend: Scott Timberg

Here are the Great Women Comic Artists of the United States: Trina Robbins

Remasters of American Comics: Sequential art as new media in the transformative museum context: Damian Duffy

Personal Statements: Exhibitions about Individual Artists

After ‘Masters’: Interview with Gary Panter: Kim Munson

Splashing Ink on Museum Walls: How Comic Art is Conquering Galleries, Museums, and Public Spaces: Rob Salkowitz

In Our Own Image, After Our Likeness: Charles Hatfield

Showing Pages and Progress: Interview with Carol Tyler: Kim Munson

Curating Comics Canons: Daniel Clowes and Art Spiegelman’s Private Museums: Benoit Crucifix

‘Co-Mix’ and Exhibitions: Interview with Art Spiegelman: Kim Munson

Introduction to ‘Comic Book Apocalypse: The Art of Jack Kirby’: Charles Hatfield

Jack Kirby at Cal State Northridge: Doug Harvey

Genius in a Box: Alexi Worth

These essays will be accompanied by over 75 images. Book expected in 2020.

SDCC 2018: Museums Make a Splash

The  Splashing Ink on Museum Walls  panel (L to R): Rob Salkowitz, Kim Munson, Ann Nocenti, Adam Smith, and Emil Ferris. 7/19/2018. Photo by Jamie Coville.

The Splashing Ink on Museum Walls panel (L to R): Rob Salkowitz, Kim Munson, Ann Nocenti, Adam Smith, and Emil Ferris. 7/19/2018. Photo by Jamie Coville.

At 4:00 on the first full day of San Diego Comic-Con, the five of us had a wide-ranging discussion about art, museums, and their importance before a full house in Room 29. Rob Salkowitz (Forbes, ICv2), the moderator and organizer, began the discussion with a reminiscence of seeing R. Crumb's Genesis at the Seattle Art Museum and how amazing it was to see the drawings of a comic artist displayed with art by Rembrandt, Durer, and Picasso as contextual ancestors. Rob wrote about this show in his essay "Splashing Ink on Museum Walls: How Comic Art is Conquering Galleries, Museums, and Public Spaces" which is included in the second issue of IDW's new hardcover art magazine Full Bleed. (I am also reprinting it in my book). The discussion touched on many topics, like the importance of narrative to exhibits of comics and different exhibit strategies.  We talked about the influence exhibits have on artists viewing the work. Plans for the new SDCC Museum were discussed.

Specifically, I gave a capsule run-down on the history of exhibits of comic art from 1930 up to the 2005 show Masters of American Comics. Ann Nocenti is one of the organizers of the epic Marvel: Universe of Comics show currently on view at MoPop in Seattle. She described some of the strategies curators used to draw attention to original comic art within a very large, busy show stuffed with props, costumes, and characters from the Marvel movies. Emil Ferris, who would win 3 Eisners for My Favorite Thing is Monsters the next evening, spoke of how the masterpieces in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago were an important part of her life and her book.

Adam Smith, making his first appearance as the Executive Director of the newly announced San Diego Comic-Con Museum, told us of CCI's plans for the museum which assumed the 37-year lease of the former San Diego Hall of Champions. The museum will not be a collecting institution. It will be a museum of pop culture celebrating all of the passionate constituencies that made SDCC the phenomenon it is. They plan on 3 large galleries for temporary exhibits, a cafe, and retail space. The full third floor will be an education center and galleries dedicated to comic art. They are currently in the fundraising stage and need to raise $35 MIL to remodel the existing space. Smith hopes to announce the opening date next year at SDCC's 50th Anniversary convention. If all goes to plan, the museum might open in 2022. Here's a promotional video about the museum project:

It was a spirited discussion and the audience seemed enthusiastic about the museum and about the topic of exhibitions in general. I hope the continued normalizing of comic art in museum exhibits will bring more recognition to artists and more opportunities for museums, scholars, curators, and art historians to explore and understand this important art form. 

Listen to our discussion, archived on the Jamie Coville Experience. Selected by Heidi McDonald of The Beat as one of the top 17 comics history panels at SDCC (it's quite a list).


Kim at SDCC 2018


I am happy to say that I am returning to San Diego Comic Con with the Thursday afternoon panel Splashing Ink on Museum Walls: "Do comics belong in museums? Lots of major art and cultural institutions seem to think so, with ambitious new shows and comic art museums springing up everywhere, including one spearheaded by Comic-Con itself. Artist/writer Emil Ferris (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters), Kim Munson (editor, From Comics to Frames: Comic Art in Museums), writer/editor and exhibition consultant Ann Nocenti, and SDCC museum director Adam Smith converse about the future of comics on display, moderated by Rob Salkowitz (Forbes, Full Bleed). http://sched.co/FQnu

Dwayne McDuffie on Black Panther, 1992

Prior to working on my current book project, From Panels to Frames: Comic Art in Museums, I wrote an essay about the founding of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco by Malcolm Whyte. The essay also covered the first 10 years or so of the museum's exhibition history while Whyte was still directly involved with the museum and its choice of exhibits. In 1992, they did 3 fascinating and well-received exhibits back to back: Broad Humor: Art of Women Cartoonists, Black Ink: African-American Cartoonist Showcase (toured), and Visions of the Floating World (manga & anime). 

After seeing the excellent Marvel film Black Panther this weekend, I was reminded of this essay Dwayne McDuffie (1962-2011) wrote for the Black Ink catalog about how much Black Panther meant to him. Here is the text of his essay:

“Our Heroes: African-American Artists and Images in the American Comic Book” by Dwayne McDuffie, originally published in the exhibition catalog Black Ink: African American Cartoonists Showcase, Cartoon Art Museum San Francisco, February 5 – May 16, 1992

Alan Thompkins interrupted my one-on-none backyard basketball game with some important news. “The Hulk is gonna fight Thor. It’s supposed to be out already.”

If Alan said so, it must be true. He knew more about comic books than anybody in the whole neighborhood. Even though my interest in the subject was a good less fanatical than Alan’s, this was definitely worth checking out. Much of our rapidly-dwindling summer vacation had been spent in heated arguments over who would emerge victorious from such a contest. I was quite certain the Incredible Hulk would have no problem waxing a little guy who wore a cape and feathers in his hat. Alan, however, favored Thor, citing the Asgardian’s mighty hammer and mystical control over the weather as decisive factors. Maybe so, but then, Alan also preferred Joe Frazier to Muhammad Ali.

In any case, the solution to our debate was suddenly at hand. Only one obstacle remained in our way. Lindsay Drugs, the “good comic store,” was over three miles from my house and I was expressly forbidden from going there. I concocted a clever story to cover my illicit tracks, “I’m going over to Alan’s, okay?”

Mom went for it.

Alan and I hopped on our bikes and made the long ride. It was 1973. We were both eleven years old.

We ran into the drug store and scanned the comic racks. The Hulk vs. Thor comic was nowhere to be found. We were greatly disappointed. Alan consoled himself with a bag of “Gold Rush” bubble gum. I had twenty cents burning a hole in my pocket and was determined to buy a comic book. I’m very glad I did.

The comic book was Jungle Action #7, featuring a superhero I’d never heard of called The Black Panther, but then, I’d never heard of the Black Panther political party either. And the irony of a black character being the lead in a book called Jungle Action escaped me completely. What didn’t escape me was the powerful sense of dignity that the characters in this book possessed. I was instantly and hopelessly hooked.

It wasn’t that The Black Panther was the first black character I’d seen in comics. Blacks had occasionally appeared in crowd scenes and as supporting characters long before (the Panther himself first appeared as a supporting character in The Fantastic Four). One black character even had his own book. Marvel’s Luke Cage, Hero for Hire had been running for over a year when I first discovered the Panther. But I never connected with Cage, a super-strong “angry black man” who wore chains around his waist, didn’t seem particularly bright, and spoke in a bizarre version of “street slang” that didn’t even remotely resemble the speech of any black people I knew. Spider-Man made sense to me. Cage? I just couldn’t relate.

In those days, when black people weren’t busy being angry, they appeared either as faithful sidekicks, or worse, helpless victims who begged the white superheroes to rescue them. The Black Panther was nobody’s sidekick and if there was any rescuing to do, he’d take care of it himself, thank you. Moreover, the Black Panther was king of a mythical African country where black people were visible in every position in society, soldier, doctor, philosopher, street sweeper, ambassador – suddenly everything was possible. In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.

In 1972, there were very few black people involved in the creation of the black images that occasionally graced the pages of comic books. In those days we were dependant on white creators to represent us. As noted about, some of them did remarkably well. Most did not.

Today, the responsibility for African-American images lies with us. If there’s any rescuing to do, we’ll take care of it ourselves, thank you. As African-American artists enter the industry in ever-increasing numbers, our dependence on whites for how we are depicted diminishes accordingly. The relatively new phenomenon of creator-owned and self-published comics further consolidates our control over how we will be portrayed. Nor is our output limited merely to African-American images. We’ve demonstrated our ability to communicate artistically concerning the whole of human experience.

When I talk about “Our Heroes,” I don’t mean The Black Panther, Brotherman, and Deathlok. Our Heroes are the growing numbers of African-American comic book creators who, each in their own way, open our eyes to the multiplicity of the African-American experience.

Our Heroes appearing in the Black Ink exhibit include: [inset images: Gil Ashby (The Laziest Secretary in the World, Hellraiser); Reggie Byers (Robotech, Shuriken, Jam Quacky); Denys Cowan (Deathlok, Punisher: War Zone, Batman, The Question, Prince, The Spook); Michael Davis-Lawerence (ETC, The Freedom Project, Shado); Matt Baker (Hooks Devlin); Grass Green (The Devil You Say); Shepherd Hendrix (Mile Up, Swamp Thing); Seitu Hayden (Tales from the Heart, the Marion Berry Game); Roland Laird (MC Squared); Milton Knight (Slug ‘n Ginger, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles);  Turtel Onli (NOG, Future Funk); David, Guy, and Jason Sims (Brotherman); Dwayne Turner (Black Panther).]

The Black Ink exhibit barely skims the surface of the deep pool of African-American talent in the comic industry today. The artists who are included represent merely a small sampling of the staggering breadth and ability of African-American contributors to the form.

~ Dwayne McDuffie writes the adventures of the African-American superheroes Deathlok and Captain Marvel, as well as Double Dragon, Back to the Future, Damage Control, The Demon, and Ultra Man. In the fall of 1973, he and Alan finally got their hands on a copy of the Hulk vs. Thor comic book. It was a tie. ~

Black Ink also toured to the San Francisco International Airport (93), and to the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Florida (94). In the catalog, the title is Black Ink: Black Cartoonist Showcase, for the Florida show this was changed to Black Ink: African-American Cartoonist Showcase. I do not know which title SFO used. This catalog had no formal checklist. Artists included are: Ollie Harrington; Chester Commodore;  Leslie Rodgers; Fred B. Watson; Bobby Thomas; E. Simms Campbell; Tom Feelings; Morrie Turner; Brumsic Brandon Jr.;  Seitu Hayden; Yaounde Olu; Ray Billingsley; Steven Bentley; Robb Armstrong; Barbara Brandon; Hazel Henigan; Greg Harris; Darnell Towns; Rick Rogers; Jonathan Smith; Walt Carr; Len Bethel; Al Dree; Ron “Stozo” Edwards; Prof. I.B. Gitten’ Downe; Edwina Owens; Pedro Bell; Overton Lloyd; Cortez McCoy; Gil Ashby;  Reggie Byers; Denys Cowan; Michael Davis-Lawrence; Matt Baker; Grass Green; Shepherd Hendrix; Roland Laird; Elihu Bey; Milton Knight; Turtel Onli; David & Jason Sims; Dwayne Turner; Craig Rex Perry; Leo Sullivan; Louis Scarborough Jr.; Byron Vaughns; Leonard Robinson; Jackie Ormes (who had a special spotlight section).

Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix in Toronto

In support of my upcoming book From Panels to Frames: Comic Art in Museums, I'm posting some exhibition photos and checklists as additional reference material.

To flesh out my interview with Art Spiegelman, I've assembled photos I took of his retrospective exhibition Co-Mix at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) in January of 2015. I apologize for the quality of these shots, they were intended only to document the show. There is also a rough floor plan. They are posted in order as I walked through the galleries.

Carol Tyler's Pages & Progress

In my upcoming book, From Panels to Frames: Comics Art and Museums, I am including an interview with Carol Tyler about the very tactile, personal art installations she created based on her multi-Eisner nominated You’ll Never Know graphic novel trilogy, and Soldier’s Heart - the Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: a Daughter’s Memoir (Fantagraphics), the 2015 book that collects them all together. Her quest to make sense of life’s challenges and her family relationships (parents, husband, and daughter) is both intensely personal and universal for anyone that has ever tried to figure out a difficult relationship. 

Here I am collecting Carol's video, exhibition photos, and other information about her exhibitions. Pages and Progress (video and slides below) was presented at the  University of Cincinnati at DAAP Galleries, Meyers Gallery, February-March, 2016).

Many shows by artists known for comics have become “museumified,” with everything perfectly framed and starkly presented in the Alfred Barr/Museum of Modern Art tradition. Tyler’s installations are very different, distinctly apart from the antiseptic feeling of the white cube. Her graphic style, crammed with detail and drawn in a limited palette of warm tones, is reflected in the design of the exhibition. She invites us in to look at the flotsam of her life and art. Her down to Earth mid-western quality is reflected in a room of drawings fluttering gently on a clothesline, and a second gallery filled with objects like her father’s woodworking tools, toys, memorabilia, and other props that Tyler crafted herself as signs of her process and emotional state. 

In the photos below, you can see some of these handmade props, such as the “table of tears” (a table covered with glass fragments wet with “tears” from a tube feeder on the wall) and the “egometer” where Tyler’s own face appears and disappears like a window shade. There are also self-portraits and thorn sculptures from a later show, Cincinnati Five.

In July 2018, Tyler has created 6 elegant mini-sculptures from the thorns of her honey locust tree and other materials from her farmhouse. If you are interested in purchasing one of these pieces, please contact her directly at cmxmakr@gmail.com.

"American Cartooning" Artist List

In support of my new book From Panels to Frames: Comics Art in Museums (coming out in 2018), I'm going to be posting some checklists and exhibition photos. The first of these is the artist list for the 1951 show American Cartooning, exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY) May 11 - June 10. 

The show brochure includes a paragraph about the show's purpose: "This exhibition was planned, in cooperation with the National Cartoonists' Society, to illustrate the art of the American professional cartoonist in our time. Members of the Society, together with other cartoonists, were invited to submit several original drawings to a committee of selection composed of representatives of the Metropolitan Museum and the Society. Those drawings were chosen which, in the opinion of the committee, best represented each artist's work, and at the same time provided a broad picture of contemporary cartooning in this country."

I have not found many photos of this show. Here, for scholarly purposes only, is a clipping from the Colorado Springs (CO) Free Press, showing the Mondrian style grid display. Otto Soglow was the Chair of the NCS committee that organized the exhibit.

I have not found many photos of this show. Here, for scholarly purposes only, is a clipping from the Colorado Springs (CO) Free Press, showing the Mondrian style grid display. Otto Soglow was the Chair of the NCS committee that organized the exhibit.

The NCS wanted to include at least one piece from all members who submitted work, plus some classics (such as McCay, Herriman) and a few drawings from the Met's collection. The drawings, over 200 of them, were displayed unframed, lined up in a grid inspired by Mondrian (a concept mentioned in NCS correspondence). The exhibit followed the nation-wide publicity the NCS received during the US Saving Bond Tour in 1949, a multi-city cross-country tour for the US Treasury Department that kicked off with NCS members sketching President Truman at the White House and included a touring exhibition on comics history that started at the Library of Congress.

The Met show was planned to run over the summer but was cut short by a large remodeling project at the museum. My book includes details of the many reviews, which were mixed (the NCS wanted a neutral representation of everyone's work and the critics wanted the Met's curators to take more of a hand in the selection), info about how this show came together, and its effect on future exhibitions of comic art.

Here are the 239 artists, in alphabetical order as published in the Met's brochure: Jay Allan; F. O. Alexander; Clarence C. Allen; Colin Allen; Carl Anderson; Alfred Andriola; Emidio (Mike) Angelo; Gus Arriola; Edd Ashe, Jr. - Mickey Bach; Ray W. Bailey; Perry Barlow; James D. Barstow; C.D. Batchelor; Frank H. Beck; Janice Berenstain; Stanley Berenstain; Walter Berndt; Michael Berry; Jame T. (Jim) Berryman; Jim Bettersworth; Charles B. Biro; Daniel Bishop; Wally Bishop; Merrill Blosser; Henry Boltinoff; Wayne D. Boring; Dave Breger; Morrie Brickman; Clare Briggs; Bo Brown; Ernie Bushmiller - Milton Caniff; Irwin Caplin; Al Capp; Mel Casson; Sam Cobean; Roland Rae Coe; Fred Cooper; Gibson M. (Gib) Crockett; Percy Crosby; Herbert E. Crowley; Matt Curzon; Otho Cushing - Gregory D'Alessio (NCS Secretary); Phil Davis; Chon Day' Abner Dean; Billy de Beck; William de la Torre; Harry Arthur Devlin; Anthony Louis (Tony) Di Preta; Walt Disney; Walt Ditzen; Ed Dodd; T. T. (Tad) Dorgan; Stephen Anthony Douglas; Daniel B. Dowling; Frances (Edwina) Dumm; Courtney Dunkel; Bob Dunn; Bill Dyer - Carl Ed; Gus Edson; L.G. Edwards; Will Eisner; Lee Elias; Frank Engli; Eric Ericson; Ray Stevens, Sr. - Jo Fisher; Dudley Fisher; Hammond E (Ham) Fisher; Daniel Robert Fitzpatrick; Don Flowers; Frank Fogarty; Vic Forsythe; Harold R. Foster; Gil Fox; Ving Fuller - Tom Gill; Frank Godwin; Reuben Lucius (Rube) Goldberg (Past President/NCS committee member); Ray Gotto; Chester Gould; Mel Graff; William Karr (Bill) Graham; Harold Gray; Milt Gross; Chad Grothkopf; Carl Grubert - Harry Hanan; Lou Hanlon; Fred Harman; Irwin Hasen; Jimmy Hatlo; George Herriman; Ned Hilton; Burne Hogarth; Bill Holman; Hugh M. Hutton - Jay Irving - Burris Jenkins, Jr.; Ferd Johnson; Roy B. Justus - Bob Kane; Al Kaufman; Jeff Keate; Reamer Keller; Ted Key; Frank O. King; Rollin Kirby; Ken Kling; Karl Kae Knecht; Clayton Knight; A. Kovarkey; Robert (Bob Kay) Kuwahara - Clyde Lamb; Fred Lasswell; George Lichty; Marty Links; Tom Little; Scott Long; Martin Lowenstein; Gustav Lundberg - H. A. Mac Gill; Stan Mac Govern; Bill Mac Lean; Neyer Mael; Gus Mager; Reg Manning; Jack Markow; Ernest Marquez; Charles E. (Cem) Martin; Fran Matera; Rex Maxon; Winsor McCay; Darrell McClure; Wilson McCoy; MC Cuthcheon; Elmer R. Messner; McGowan Miller; Tarpe Mills; R. B. Modell; Bob Montana; Edward MdDowell (Ed) Moore; John (Milt) Morris; Carl Louis Mortison; Zack Mosley; Willard Mullin - Fed Neher; John Norment; Paul Norris; Irving Novick - Robert Stanley (Bob) Oksner; F. Opper; R. F. Outcault; William Overgard; Frank Owen - Grover Page; Gladys Parker; David (Pascal) Pascolsca; Russell Patterson; Bill Pause; John Pierotti; Alfred John Plastino; Al Posen; T. E. Powers; Garrett Price - Connie Rasinski; Hal Rasmusson; Alex Raymond (NCS President); Gardner Rea; Rranciscc Xavier (FOXO) Reardon; Ed Reed; Paul Reinman; Laurence (Larry) Reynolds; Mischa Richter; Frank Robbins; Carl Rose; Hy Rosen; Michael J. (Mike) Roy; John Arthur Ruge; D. D. Russell; Rod Ruth - Jose Luis Slinas; William Sandeson; Leonard Sansone; Robert D. Scholnki;  Lew Sayre Schwartz; Fred O. Seibel' Irma Selz; Claude Shafter; George Shellhase; Barbara Shermund; Vaughn Shoemaker; Erle B. Slack; Dorman H. Smith; George Smith; Otto Soglow (committe chair); Howard Spraber; AndrewSprague; John Spranger; Stanley Stamaty; Russell Stamm; Ralph Stein; Cliff Sterrett; J. Striebel; T. S. Sullivant; V. A. Svoboda; Swinnerton - Hilda Terry; Paul H. Terry; Barney Tobey; Buford Tune; Leslie Turner - Philip Albert (Flip) Uzanas - Charles A. Voight - Mort Walker; Dow Walling; Jerry Walter; Linda Walter; L. D. Warren; Coulton Waugh; Morris Weiss (Wes Morse); Peter Wells; Elmer Wexler; Bert Whitman; Frank H. Willard; J. R. Williams; Dick Wingert; Basil Wolverton; George Wunder - Richard Yardley; Chic Young - Bill Zaboly; Eugene (Zim) Zimmerman.

Writings on labor & union labels

one of the classic television commercials from the early 1980s featuring members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union

A few years ago, I was obsessed with the stories and symbols involved in union labels and the label movement. Most people remember the Look for the Union Label ad campaign of 1978/81, but labels have had a long and complex tale that is completely intertwined with the history of the labor movement.

Here I am collecting links to some of my label related projects. It is my hope, someday, to do a book about this.

Here's an old blog post about my original concept for the label project: Signs of Unity: Stories and Symbols of the Union Label Movement.  

In 2008, I participated in "Syndicate," a piece for Bay Area Now 5 at YBCA, a collaboration with Jessica Tulley, Wendy Crittenden and Tom Griscom that included a gallery installation, street stencils of historic photos, and a walking tour. Out of that project grew our 2015 Labor Landmarks show Dual Views, hosted at SFSU by the Labor Archives and Reseach Center, featuring the photography of Griscom and Crittenden. In support of this show, I wrote "The Fight for San Francisco" which was published in Places Journal about the historic sites in SF important to the labor movement.

I have several articles published on academica.edu and on slideshare, including "Evolution of an Emblem: the Arm & Hammer" and "100 Years Hand-in-Hand: a Brief History of the AFL-CIO Emblem." I was honored to speak at the AFL-CIO Union Label Department's national convention about their history in 2009 (Pittsburgh, PA), as well as at the national convention of the Popular Culture Association (Albuquerque, NM).

As more people are giving up the power of numbers that unions provided them, I hope that in some small way I have been able to help the stories of the sacrifices workers made to win fairer pay and treatment live on.




Two articles in Fall/Winter 2016 IJOCA

Two articles I finished last year have been published in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of the International Journal of Comic Art: "A Collaborative Journey: Malcolm Wyte, Troubador Press, and the Founding of the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco," and "How the French Kickstarted the Acceptance of Comics as an Art Form: the Books and Exhibitions of Maurice Horn" (pages 61-155) The IJOCA does not publish articles on-line. They are posted on Academia.edu, and IJOCA articles sometimes appear in the JSTOR database.

Thanks to the following people who shared their stories with me: Maurice Horn, Brian Walker, Rick Marcshall, Denis Kitchen, Paul Gravett, Art Spiegelman, Carol Tilley, Trina Robbins, and Steve Leialoha. Malcolm Whyte, Jenny Robb, Andrew Farago, and Mark Bode. Also, thanks to Brian, Randy Duncan, Matt Smith, and Marc Greenberg for their advice throughout these projects. 

The article about Maurice Horn, French scholarship, his publications, and the 1967 exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs will be the topic of my upcoming presentations at WonderCon and the Popular Culture Association's National Convention.

cover of the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of the IJOCA.

cover of the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of the IJOCA.

Conference schedule 2017

After a hiatus, I've scheduled speaking slots a few upcoming conferences:

San Diego Comics Fest, Feb 17-19. Print Magazine's Michael Dooley and I will talk about the art of Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, and Jules Feiffer, particularly about the way that exhibitions of their original art keep their legacy alive with fans old and new.

Comic Arts Conference at WonderCon (Anaheim, CA), March 31-April 2. 50th Anniversary of the Bande Dessinee et Figuration (1967) Exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. 

Popular Culture Association National Conference (San Diego, CA), April 11-15. 50th Anniversary of the Bande Dessinee et Figuration (1967) Exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. 

Comic Arts Conference at San Diego Comic-Con International, July 20-23. Exhibitions of Will Eisner and Jack Kirby.

"From Panels to Frames: Comic Art in Museums"

I'm happy to announce that I will be editing a collection of essays, comics, reviews, and other materials about comic art in museums for the University Press of Mississippi. My UPM editor, Vijay Shah said "Museums, exhibitions, and exhibition catalogs have played a great part in the development of comics scholarship. By bringing this "low art" into the presence of "high art," a good deal has been learned about both. This matter has hardly been studied at all, and a good many people involved in it have been overlooked or forgotten."

Cover art illustration by Will Eisner. Originally created for the Museum of Cartoon Art.

Cover art illustration by Will Eisner. Originally created for the Museum of Cartoon Art.

So far, contributors include: Brian Walker, Dr. Thomas Inge, Benoit Crucifix, Jaqueline Berndt, Michael Dooley, Charles Hatfield, Diana Green, Trina Robbins, Karen Green Jonah Kinigstein, Denis Kitchen, Leslie Jones, Kenneth Baker, John Lent, and Mark Badger. Interviews with artists Gary Panter, Art Spiegelman, and Carol Tyler will be included. More to come.

If all goes as planned, publication is expected spring 2018. Thanks to Brian Walker, Denis Kitchen and Carl Gropper for allowing me to use this perfect Will Eisner illustration for my cover.

New Article: The Books and Exhibitions of Maurice Horn

Poster for 1967 exhibition, courtesy of Maurice Horn.

Poster for 1967 exhibition, courtesy of Maurice Horn.

"How the French Kickstarted the Acceptance of Comics as Art in the US: the Books and Exhibitions of Maurice Horn" will be published in the Fall 2016 issue of the International Journal of Comic Art, and is currently available on Academia.edu.

Overview of the career of the French/American comics pioneer Maurice Horn. Discussion of the French interest in US comics, and the exhibitions Bande dessinée et figuration narrative (Paris 1967), AAARGH!: a Celebration of Comics (London 1970), and 75 Years of the Comics (NY 1971). Books discussed are A History of the Comic Strip (1968), World Encyclopedia of Comics (1976), Women in the Comics (1977), and several others. Includes a short history of American comics in France, and the 1960's groups, Club Bande Dessinée, and SOCERLID, that championed the idea of comics as "the ninth art" through their exhibitions and publications. Horn was a contributing member of these groups, moving on in the 1970's to edit an important string of comics reference books.

Article includes interviews with Maurice Horn, Rick Marschall, John Lent, Brian Walker, Denis Kitchen, Trina Robbins, Steve Leialoha, and Art Spiegelman. 


New Article on Malcolm Whyte and the founding of the Cartoon Art Museum

Catalog cover  Zap to Zippy  1990

Catalog cover Zap to Zippy 1990

"A Collaborative Journey: Malcolm Whyte, Troubador Press, and the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco" will be published in the Fall issue of the International Journal of Comic Art, and is currently available on Academia.edu.

The longest running independent museum of comic art, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, was forced out of its space in September 2015, and is still looking for a home. This is the story of the museum's founder, the author and publisher Malcolm Whyte. His amazing career began in the Navy when he and a partner started Troubador Press, which began with greeting cards and grew to high quality coloring books illustrated by Greg Irons, Larry Todd, and Edward Gorey, In the mid-80's he founded the Cartoon Art Museum, and was the director from the opening in 1988 through 1992. Key exhibitions and catalogs are discussed. Following this he moved back into publishing with the Cottage Classics books. These were illustrated by artists like S. Clay Wilson, Maxon Crumb and Spain Rodriquez. Often these publications were coordinated with exhibitions.

Margaret Harrison: #4 on Artlyst's Top Feminist Artist List

Several recent articles about Margaret Harrison and "On Reflection: the Art of Margaret Harrison" in the media:

Artlyst's "Top 10 Feminist Artists" : http://www.artlyst.com/top10/feminist-artists

Michael Dooley of Print Magazine on my book "On Reflection": "As police once forced Harrison’s gallery owner to remove her paintings, the book’s author, Kim Munson, had been forced by Apple not long ago to remove “objectionable” cartoons from an underground comix history iPhone app she’d produced [story here]. This and other commonalities, such as a shared passion for workers’ rights, make Munson’s accompanying commentary and interviews with the artist empathetic and engaging as well as informative." See the rest of the article here: http://www.printmag.com/illustration/graphic-novels-superhero-feminist-artist/  

Dooley's article was also picked up by Heidi McDonald on The Beat (http://www.comicsbeat.com/kibbles-n-bits-11116-96-comics-artists-draw-david-bowie/).

Margaret Harrison. You Looking at Me?, 2013. Watercolour on paper, 28 x 19 1/4 in each. Photograph: Casey Dorobek, courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.

Studio International: Informative interview with Anna McNay about Margaret and her retrospective show at mima. http://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/margaret-harrison-interview-accumulations-middlesbrough-institute-of-modern-art