From the International Journal of Comic Art 3-2, we present another WISH YOU WERE THERE, starring Frank Cho, Mark Wheatly, Marc Hempel and a defunct comic store. Is Insight Studios still functioning I wonder?
IS Art: The Art of Insight Studios. Washington, DC: Illumination Arts Gallery of Georgetown / Beyond Comics II, May 12--June 30, 2001.
IS Art displayed original art of Insight Studios, founded in 1978 by Mark Wheatley, and artistically now consisting of him, Marc Hempel and Frank Cho. The exhibit is based on the book of the same title (by Allan Gross, Baltimore: Insight Studios Group, 2001. ISBN 1-89317-11-X; $29.95) which includes a history of Insight; the title of both is undoubtedly a play on words reflecting the general perception of comic art as a lowbrow form. There was a checklist for the show, but no explanatory exhibit text except for captions; presumably the book was intended to fulfill the viewer's possible desire for further information. Due to his syndicated comic strip, Liberty Meadows, and his penchant for drawing beautiful women, Cho is undoubtedly the main attraction of the Studio. In this show, held in an unused upper floor of a comic book store, very few of Cho's strips were displayed. However, instead he was mostly represented by his fanzine work on E.R. Burroughs' Tarzan and Mars series. Hempel included many of his early 1980s paintings of women, cover paintings from his 1990 DC Comics series Breathtaker, and cartoons from his self-published comic book Tug & Buster. His current work, of increasingly-stylized caricatures in ink and watercolor, harkened back to art of the 1920s and 1930s. The twenty-year span of Hempel's career exhibited here provided an interesting view of his artistic evolution. Wheatley has frequently worked on material derived from pulps and magazine illustration. His gouaches for IS's publication of Talbot Mundy's Jimgrim and the Devil at Ludd, clearly having evolved from his comic book work, displayed a strong sense of color and composition. The exhibit, although obviously not done by art gallery professionals (artwork not used in the show was still leaning in piles under a window), was an enjoyable look at a trio of local creators.