Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts

Friday, November 23, 2018

Exhibit review: Superheroes at the National Museum of American History

by Mike Rhode


Superheroes. Washington, DC: National Museum of American History. November 20, 2018 to September 2, 2019. http://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/super-heroes
The Smithsonian museum has mounted a small, but choice, exhibit made up of some extremely surprising pieces. The terse description on their website only hints at it:
This showcase presents artifacts from the museum's collections that relate to Superheroes, including comic books, original comic art, movie and television costumes and props, and memorabilia. The display includes George Reeves's Superman costume from the Adventures of Superman TV program, which ran from 1951-1958, as well as Halle Berry's Storm costume from the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Of the five exhibit cases, two concentrate on comic books and original art, while the other three contain props from movies and pop culture ephemera. Surprisingly, the Black Panther costume from the Marvel movies which the African-American History museum collected this summer is not included, but as noted above they have displayed George Reeve's Superman costume (since it is in color rather than grey shades, it came from the later seasons of the television show), Halle Berry's Storm uniform, along with Captain America's shield, Wolverine's claws and Batman's cowl and a batarang. Those three cases are rounded out with the first issue of Ms. Magazine which had a Wonder Woman cover, two lunchboxes (Wonder Woman and Marvel heroes), and a Superman telephone.













courtesy of Grand Comics Database
 Surprisingly, the two cases of comic books and original art include a very wide variety of comic books including some that just recently came out such as America (Marvel) along with older issues such as Leading Comics from 1943 which featured Green Arrow among other heroes such as the Crimson Avenger and the Star-Spangled Kid. The existence of an apparently extensive comic book collection in the Smithsonian comes as a surprise to this reviewer and will need to be researched more in depth. Even more of a surprise were the four pieces of original art on display – the cover of Sensation Comics 18 (1943) with Wonder Woman drawn by H.G. Peter, a Superman comic strip (1943) signed by Siegel and Shuster, a Captain Midnight cover that the curators did not bother to track the source of (it appears to be an unused version of #7 from April 1943), and a April 27, 1945 Batman comic strip. Actually, none of the creators of any of the works are credited, although the donors are.
The small exhibit lines two sides of a hallway off the busy Constitution Avenue entrance of the Museum, but the location has the advantage of being around the corner from a Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie that was installed earlier this year. The car may be tied into the nearby installation and branding of a Warner Bros. theater showing the latest Harry Potter spin-off movie which seems like a true waste of space in the perennially over-crowded and under –exhibited (i.e. they have literally hundreds of thousands of items worthy of display in storage), but one assumes that besides the Batmobile, the theater came with a cash donation or promise of shared revenues.

Notwithstanding that cynicism, the Batmobile and the superheroes exhibit are fun to see, although most people quickly passed them by during this reviewer's visit. Also of interest may be a bound volume of Wonder Woman comics and a reproduction of an unused idea for her original costume, around the other corner from the Batmobile in the Smithsonian Libraries exhibit gallery. The museum has recently acquired some Marston family papers.

Bruce Guthrie has an extensive series of photographs including the individual comic books at http://www.bguthriephotos.com/graphlib.nsf/keys/2018_11_22D2_SIAH_Superheroes


 












(This review was written for the International Journal of Comic Art 20:2, but this version appears on both the IJOCA and ComicsDC websites on November 23, 2018, while the exhibit is still open for viewing.)

Friday, December 09, 2016

Bedtime for Batman's Dahl at Hooray for Books

by Mike Rhode

A few nights ago, author Michael Dahl entertained a group of youngsters wearing their Batjammies at Alexandria's Hooray for Books. Dahl put on his own set and then read the book he wrote that is illustrated by Ethen Beavers. Dahl's story draws a parallel between a young boy getting ready for bed and Batman heading out to fight crime. Beavers did an excellent job with the Batman Adventures animation style. The book is aimed at the very young, and the children in the crowd certainly enjoyed it. Full disclosure - I was the only adult there without young children.











Dahl's next book is Good Morning, Superman, but some children starting reading it so I didn't get a glimpse. It's by a different artist though.

And they have autographed Wimpy Kid books for sale still.






Friday, October 03, 2014

Oct. 9: Batman stamps

The U.S. Postal Service is launching a series of Forever stamps (49 cents) in honor of Batman's 75th anniversary. Four versions of the iconic DC Comics superhero are depicted from four eras of the comic-book character's history (Can you name the artists?). In addition, there are four incarnations of the Bat-Signal. The stamps, which will premiere at New York Comic Con next week, go on sale Oct. 9.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Batman 75th anniversary exhibit at Library of Congress


Megan Halsband of the Newspapers and Periodicals division has put up a small exhibit of Batman comic books in the Madison Building. Here are some pictures that she provided.




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Brad Meltzer's book talk - guest blog post by Bruce Guthrie

I went to Brad Meltzer's talk at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library last night.  He's definitely a crowd pleaser!  He was promoting his new book "History Decoded" based on the History Channel show.  Wonderful speaker who even brought junk food for the signing line.  Scott Rolle from the show was also there.

Q&A focused mostly on Kennedy's assassination and I was relieved to hear him dismissing the conspiracy theorists so quickly.  He said we don't want to accept that a lone crazy could have killed a popular US president.  Makes you wonder about why we don't have that problem with John Hinkley.  Is it just because both Reagan and Hinkley survived?  When the story's cut short, I guess there's more room to make up conspiracy stuff to fill in gaps.

Several questions dealt with his comic book work.  He said he was very excited to be working on the Batman 75th anniversary retelling of the Batman origin story due out in January.  As http://bigstory.ap.org/article/batman-turns-75-dc-plans-weekly-title-events says,

The Bob Kane and Bill Finger-created character's origin will get a "modern-day retelling" in the 104-page issue by Brad Meltzer and Bryan Hitch, along with new stories and art from Snyder, Frank Miller, Sean Murphy, Peter J. Tomasi and Guillem March, Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen, Gregg Hurwitz and Neal Adams.

The issue, out Jan. 8, will also lay the framework for new creative team Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, who take over the book in the spring.

"We want to bring him closer to his roots and be more of a street-level type of hero," Manapul said about their plans. "His super heroics will still be present, but the investigative part of Batman will be at the forefront."

He also showed some pages from his upcoming "I Am Amelia Earheart" kids graphic book and he showed covers for "I Am Abraham Lincoln" and "I Am Rosa Parks".  Apparently there will be at least six book in the "I Am..." treatment.

The signing event was fun as he appeared to recognize a bunch of his fans.  He's great at establishing personal connections with his fans through social media and in person.  He's got a lot of fan loyalty.  I talked with three people about many times they had seen him before and two of them said five or more times.

There were about 250 people in the audience.  The signing lasted over 90 minutes.  Pictures are up on http://www.bguthriephotos.com/graphlib.nsf/keys/2013_10_23B_Meltzer

--
Bruce Guthrie
Photo obsessive
http://www.bguthriephotos.com
__._,_.___

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Exhibiting the gold in the Golden Age at the Jewish Museum of MD

101_5094 posterThis past weekend I was able to attend the members' preview for the exhibit "ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950." The exhibit has arrived at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in downtown Baltimore and it's well-worth visiting.Curated by the late Jerry Robinson, this exhibit was put together in 2004 by the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta, which published a catalogue of the same name.

 Robinson had multiple careers in cartooning including writing a history of comics, being an editorial cartoonist, and starting a syndicate, but he began as a young man in comic books. As a seventeen-year old he began working on Batman as a letterer and inker in 1939. Eventually he became a penciller for the character, and as an employee of what became DC Comics, he met a lot of artists. And thankfully he saved examples of their work, at a time when that behavior wasn't very common.

101_5085 Simon and Kirby
Simon & Kirby cover to Adventure Comics #78
The exhibit is full of original golden age artwork. It contains art by Mort Meskin, Lou Fine, Robinson, Will Eisner, Marc Swayze, Simon & Kirby, Charles Biro, Fred Ray, CC Beck, Fred Ray, Will Eisner, HG Peter, Sheldon Modoff, Bob Fujitani, Lee Elias, Irwin Hasen, Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, Joe Kubert, Reed Crandall, Al Alvison, Carmine Infantino and Frank Frazetta. Many of these are prime pieces.

And many of the writers and artists were Jewish. As comics historian Arnold Blumberg noted in his remarks at the preview, "...it's a joy to see the exhibit come to a facility like this and to take a look at it from our unique perspective of what our culture, what our heritage, has given not just to itself, but to the world. The world owns Superman and Batman and all these characters now. Many of them may not have a clue where they came from, who were the kind of people who sat down and created them, but they are now owned by the entire world. They're heroes for everybody and they came from us."

101_5092 Siegel and Shuster autograph
Siegel & Shuster drawing dedicated to Robinson
The exhibit gives a basic history of comic books and characters and biographies of the creators, interspersed with now-priceless art and comic books. Particular attention is paid to World War II of course. Pages of an original Batman script by Bill Finger can be seen - Robinson's estate donated other examples of these to Columbia University this month. Historic highlights include Robinson's artwork for early Batman covers, his original Joker playing card sketch, and a Siegel & Shuster drawing of Superman dedicated to Robinson. A few cases examine the merchandising of Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) and Superman.

This version of the exhibit does have a tricky dichotomy to it. The uncolored, unfinished single pages of comic book artwork will appeal to a mature (elderly, if they bought the titles originally) viewer, while the idea of a superhero largely is aimed at male teens and younger children. This version of the exhibit caters to the very youngest viewers, with a set of tables, chairs and supplies for making cartoons, a replica of Superman's telephone booth with costumes set alongside it, a Batmobile kiddy ride, a newsstand with comics to read on it, and a piece of "Kryptonite"with a recording that warns one not to get to close.

101_5058 newsstand


 I was fortunate to be able to visit the exhibit with local cartoonists. Barbara Dale (of Baltimore), known for her humorous cartoons, fixated on the original Spirit page by Will Eisner and the Frank Frazetta that was next to it, and thought those two pieces made the entire exhibit worthwhile.

101_5070 Eisner
The Eisner Spirit page that impressed Barbara Dale...

101_5071 Frazetta
...and the Frazetta cover that Dale also admired.
101_5090 Lou Fine
Note Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine.
Rafer Roberts (of Fredericksburg) pointed out several things to me - Moldoff's use of gouache to give white highlights on the legs of a monster on Moon Girl #4's cover for EC Comics, Bernie Wrightson's debt to Lou Fine (look at the skeletonized figure on the Hit Comics cover, and Bob Fujitane's use of the traditional iconography of Japanese monsters.

101_5066 Bob Fujitane
Bob Fujitane uses Japanese iconography.








I had seen a previous version of this exhibit in New York at the Jewish Museum there, but it was reworked as an addition to the massive "Masters of American Comics" show. Any fan of comic book history should take the opportunity to see this version of the show at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The catalogue can be bought in the gift shop, along with Superman toothbrushes, Batman lunchboxes and hand-painted superhero yarmelkes. The Museum has produced two curriculum guides for schools and plans lectures throughout the exhibit which runs from January 27 - August 28, 2013, and costs $8 or less. More of my pictures can be seen here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Photos! Al Jaffee, Michael Uslan, Rick Marschall and Jim Ottaviani

Comics events in DC happen with surprising regularity these days - here's pics of a few events I attended late in the year.

Comic book writer Jim Ottaviani signed his new book 'Feynman' at the National Air & Space Museum. Notwithstanding the last photo, he had so many people I barely had a chance to speak with him:

101_2480 Jim Ottaviani

101_2479 Jim Ottaviani

101_2478  Jim Ottaviani

101_2477 Jim Ottaviani

Comics historian Rick Marschall at the Library of Congress:

101_2947 Rick Marschall at Library of Congress

101_2948 Rick Marschall at Library of Congress

101_2949  Rick Marschall at Library of Congress

Batman movie producer Michael Uslan discussing his book The Boy Who Loved Batman at Discovery (note the signature he uses):

101_2951 Michael Uslan at Discovery

101_2950 Michael Uslan at Discovery

101_2952 Michael Uslan at Discovery

101_2953 Michael Uslan at Discovery

MAD magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee and Mary-Lou Weisman signing their book at the DCJCC:

101_2962 Al Jaffee and Mary-Lou Weisman

101_2963  Al Jaffee and Mary-Lou Weisman

101_2966  Al Jaffee and Mary-Lou Weisman

101_2965  Al Jaffee and Mary-Lou Weisman

101_2964  Al Jaffee and Mary-Lou Weisman


Jaffee bookplate 2
Al Jaffee's bookplate that he uses instead of signing due to a tremor.

Jaffee bookplate 1
Al Jaffee's bookplate that he uses instead of signing the biography Al Jaffee's Mad Life (by Mary-Lou Weisman).

101_2959 Big Nate display at Barnes and Noble
A display of Big Nate books at Barnes and Noble.

101_3079 Cartoon books at National Cathedral
Cartoon books for sale at the National Cathedral.