Showing posts with label exhibit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exhibit. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Exhibit Review: Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages


by Mike Rhode


Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages. Sara W. Duke and Martha H. Kennedy, Prints and Photographs Division and Georgia M. Higley and Megan Halsband, Serial and Government Publications Division. Washington, DC: Library of Congress. September 12, 2019- September 2020. https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/comic-art/about-this-exhibition/

Since I am friends with all four of the curators of the exhibit, consider this more of an exhibit overview rather than a review. Located in the historic Jefferson Building, the site of many fine exhibitions besides those of comic art, the Swann Gallery’s exhibits are always interesting and this one is no exception. The exhibit showcases highlights of the Library’s collection of comic art, meaning in this exhibit at least comic strips and comic books, including its very latest forays into collecting.

The exhibit is divided rather arbitrarily into five sections – “Early Years: 1890s-1920s,” “Mid-Twentieth Century: 1930s-1960s,” “Late-Twentieth Century and Onward: 1970s-2000s,” “Comic Books and Beyond: 1940s-2000s,” and “Webcomics.” Although the sections are clearly delineated on the website, this is less true for the actual exhibit except for the comic books which are displayed in cases in the middle of the gallery, and the webcomics which are on a screen by the exit door.


 

Taking the three original art sections first, there are some very good original cartoons on display, beginning in Early Years with the copyright drawing for the Yellow Kid, and originals from Winsor McCay, Frank King’s Gasoline Alley, George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, and some tearsheets from the Geppi Collection. The next section has a fine Batman & Robin page, a lovely Burne Hogarth original of Tarzan, and an early Peanuts original, although the Hulk page by Marie Severin has been shown too many times in recent exhibits. The latest section definitely plays into the interests of the two curators. There are two 9-11 pieces, one from Will Eisner and one from Alex Ross that were collected after that tragedy, a Sunday strip from local cartoonist Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac, a page from the New Yorker's Chris Ware, items from women cartoonists Trina Robbins, Lynn Johnston and Marguerite Dabaie, and posters and prints from the Small Press Expo collection. 



The comic book section is limited by both space and the difficulties in displaying bound printed matter, (as the Post Office classified comics when they were sent through the mail to subscribers). Again reflecting the interests of this sections curators, there are some rare pieces such as the recently-acquired All-Negro Comics no. 1 and DC’s World Best Comics no. 1, along standards such as a Disney issue of Dell’s Four Color Comics, EC’s Weird Fantasy, Lobo (an uninspired Western distinguished only by having an African-American hero), Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, Mad no. 6, Twisted Sisters no. 1 and an fanzine among others. The Webcomics section just shows strips on a computer screen, made up from some of the electronic comics that the Library has begun collecting digitally including Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics, Randall Munroe’s XKCD and Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant. It is nice that the curators are including this new form, but seeing them on a large computer screen in an exhibit gallery does not add anything to the understanding of the strips. 



The exhibit will be switched out around February to preserve the paper items. In a small room next to the exhibit, Sara Duke’s selection of Herblock cartoons from fifty years ago is worth looking at, especially since the topics he drew and she selected are still problems and in the news.


(This review was written for the International Journal of Comic Art 22:1, but this version appears on both the IJOCA and ComicsDC websites on January 8 2020, while the exhibit is still open for viewing.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Meet a Local Book Designer: A Chat with Barbara Sutliff

by Mike Rhode

Barbara Sutliff is a book and magazine designer and art director  who recently worked on an editorial cartoon book for the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC). On a tip from her husband, cartoonist Joe Sutliff, Barbara and I got together for an informal email interview.

I heard that local editorial cartoonist Matt Wueker was doing a book for a Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum exhibit in Columbus, OH? They have an editorial cartoon show that's only up for another month. Is that what it's for?

Yes it is based on the show, the AAEC has their conference there this coming weekend. The AAEC will have the book for sale. It was a very small print run for the conference, and the association plans to show it to some of the large book publishers that will be there in hopes of interesting them in publishing it on a larger scale, perhaps even an expanded version.

What's the title, and who's the author?

The title is Front Lines: Political Cartooning and the Battle for Freedom of Speech by The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. This is similar to the title of the exhibition, which was Front Line: Editorial Cartoonists and the First Amendment.


The editor of the book is Matt Wuerker, award winning political cartoonist from Politico and former president of the AAEC, and a friend of ours (Joe and I).
Back and front covers
How did you get involved? What did you do for them?

Matt saw Joe at an event and mentioned the project and asked whether I might be interested in designing the book. We talked and I was very excited to work on such a fun and important project. Matt was terrific to work with. After hearing his ideas for the look of the book, we talked  back and forth as I showed different options for the chapter design treatments, Once chosen, it was a really smooth collaboration—Matt was just finishing up getting the essays edited and finalized, while collecting hi-res versions of the many cartoons that he was organizing to go with each chapter/essay. 

Liz Donnelly drawing and table of contents
In the meantime I roughed out the book to get a firmer idea on page count for each chapter and for the overall book, including many cartoons chosen to go with each chapter. As I have designed and produced hundreds of publications over the years—this project was a great fit—Matt and I had a smooth back and forth with emails including pdfs of pages with notes attached with my questions, suggestions as well as his corrections, answers and suggestions. We also had periodic phone calls to go over the status chapter by chapter. I worked in InDesign and sent pdf proofs which as I mentioned, we added electronic sticky notes to for specific questions and to provide me with credit info for each piece etc. When everything was approved I made hi-res print quality pdfs for the printer. Matt already had this idea in mind for the cover—he provided my with his mockup in InDesign which I tweaked (I am a stickler when it comes to kerning and typography and Matt was thrilled with that attention to detail on my part!) It was a great experience, I loved designing and producing the book. Matt just told me he is putting a printed copy in the mail for me and I am so glad to hear that he is very happy with the printed edition.


How many images are in the book? Is everything from the exhibit in it? Was there anything tricky or difficult about the layout?

Pillars by Jimmy Margulies. August 16, 2018 from the exhibit

.

I counted 100 cartoons in the book not counting Matt’s cover cartoon. It also has essays by Joel Pett, Lucy Caswell, Roslyn Mazer, Rob Rogers, Ann Telnaes and Matt. 

I didn’t know whether the book included everything from the exhibit, since I didn't see the show, but Matt says, "No....  And many of the cartoons in the book are not in the show. It's by no means a catalog of the show.  We just used that as a jumping off point.”

The tricky thing for me was incorporating many horizontal cartoons into the design without having the option of going across the gutter of a perfect bound book like I might when designing with photographs, which can have impact across a spread—but obviously that doesn’t work with cartoons with words. I created a grid with an appropriate width for type, on a square page which allowed for a narrow outside column to be used for pull quotes and to have the flexibility to use the full width including the narrow column for cartoons to jut out beyond the type column. It works as many of the cartoons are horizontal and allows for variety in the design of each spread with varying sized art along with the text and pull quotes drawing the reader to important ideas from the chapter and that act as design elements on the page as well. I guess the other tricky thing that comes to mind is that the chapters were mostly cartoons with an essay flowing through them as opposed to a text-heavy book punctuated by spot illustrations. So the challenge was to keep the continuity of the words flowing around the cartoons which meant jumping the words around a spread or two of just art so that the cartoons and words complemented one another.

Barbara Sutliff is available for full-time or freelance work. Contact her via https://www.linkedin.com/in/barbarasutliff/


Friday, September 13, 2019

PR: The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston opens at Embassy of Canada Art Gallery in DC

NEWS RELEASE – The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston opens at Embassy of Canada Art Gallery,
September 13, 2019 to January 31, 2020. 

https://connect2canada.com/2019/09/the-comic-art-of-lynn-johnston/




Washington, D.C., September 11, 2019 –
The Embassy of Canada is pleased to present The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston, an art exhibition exploring the career of Canadian comic artist Lynn Johnston and the themes of her popular comic strip For Better or Worse. The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston shows selections from the comic's 30-year history, highlighting the characters that readers know and love, and includes content from the Washington Post, as well as original artwork and current projects.

For Better or For Worse underwent many changes - taking the comic from a glimpse into the everyday home life of the Patterson family, to a comic with three-dimensional characters that seemed like real people. Seeing Elly Patterson and her family go through familiar situations added to the overwhelming success of the strip. Styling changes and character development were features that made For Better or For Worse uniquely relatable.

Throughout her career Johnston consistently drew from her own life and personal experiences. The exhibition gives a behind the scenes look at Johnston's creative process, her life, and the ways that her experiences made their way into her work, culminating in realistic characters and a complex storyline full of detail, color and humor in For Better or For Worse.   
     
The Comic Art of Lynn Johnston opens September 13, 2019, through January 31, 2020. The Embassy's art gallery is located next to the Newseum at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW and is open to the public Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, free of charge.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Exhibit Review: 100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal: Mexico-United States As Seen By Mexican Cartoonists.

by Mike Rhode

100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal: Mexico-United States As Seen By Mexican Cartoonists. Augustin Sánchez González. Washington, DC: Mexican Cultural Institute, September 4 – October 30, 2019.  https://www.instituteofmexicodc.org/

El Universal was Mexico’s first modern newspaper, according to the exhibit, and on its first day of publication in October 1916, the first thing readers would see was group caricature of the men writing the new Mexican constitution. The exhibit commemorates both the 50th anniversary of editor Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, and the 100th anniversary of the newspaper.

Sánchez González organized the bilingual exhibit into five sections. The first deals with the establishment of the newspaper with its early cartoonists Andrés Audiffred and Hugo Thilgmann, as well as comic strips influenced by American strips. Two original strips by Audiffred and two caricatures by Thilgmann are highlights of this section, which also includes two sheets of the original comics section of the paper, as well as reproductions of front pages with cartoons. This section is supplemented with a video of the curator discussing the exhibit. 



The second section is on the influence of the American cartoon and comic strip. A reproduction of a newspaper page by Guillermo “Cas” Castillo of comic strip characters such as the Katzenjammer Kids and Mutt and Jeff with caricatures of Charlie Chaplin is displayed with large reproduction drawings by Juan Terrazas of Cas’ drawings of the characters. Terrazas is the director of the Museum of Caricature which was a major contributor of pieces to the exhibit. This room is by far the weakest part of the show. In spite of the curator’s comments about fame of the characters during the exhibit opening, the comic strips are too far removed from the current audience’s experience to be recognizable. Only students of the form recognize the 100-year old characters today. A local connection to the exhibit venue is seen in Rogelio Naranjo’s self-caricature of as a young dandy holding the Washington Post with a headline announcing his arrival in D.C., but the placement of the piece in this section is odd, and probably just is an artifact of the layout of the rooms.


The third part concentrates on caricature of American presidents, and the fourth on Uncle Sam and U.S. politics. These and the next section are by far the strongest part of the exhibit with original artwork by masters such as Antonio Arias Bernal, Ruis, Naranjo and Helioflores featured. It can be interesting and instructive to look at caricatures by artists who are not natives of the country, because they tend not to use the same tropes or exaggerated features as a local cartoonist might. Bernal’s drawing of Eisenhower is clearly recognizable, but Ruis’ cartoon of John F. Kennedy makes him look more like Superman’s Jimmy Olsen, and Efren’s caricature of Reagan does not seem accurate at all. Audiffred is still working for the newspaper at this time, and has a nice heavy ink line displayed in his drawing of Vice President Richard Nixon. Naranjo’s drawing of Jimmy Carter is firmly in the large-headed David Levine-influenced style, but with two men hanging on barbed wire behind Carter, is probably harsher than what would have appeared in an American publication. One of the pieces that resonates today is Helioflores drawing of Richard Nixon as a tree with multiple cuts in its trunk and titled, “¿Caerá? (Will it Fall?).” Although there are two good caricatures of Trump in this section, the Nixon drawing feels timely.




 The section on Uncle Sam’s best piece is “Cáscaras (Banana Peel Fall)” by Bernal, showing Uncle Sam slipping on a United Fruit Company banana peel. This section however, reveals the problem of the lack of dates in the captions as the viewer will not necessarily be aware of the events that prompted the cartoon. An exception of course is Altamrino’s odd untitled drawing of Uncle Sam missing two front teeth after September 11, 2001. Kemchs’ “Alambrada (Barbed Wire), a color print of Trump’s name as barbed wire is a clever piece even if it does not feature Uncle Sam.




 
The exhibit closes with a section on masters of Mexican cartooning. Without needing to hew closely to a theme, this section is the strongest part of the exhibit. Excellent examples by all the previously named cartoonists are featured along with others by Omar, PIT, Carilla, and Dzib. 


Overall the exhibit is an interesting and educational introduction to one particular niche in Mexican cartooning. Additional photographs can be seen at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmGJtK1B. The exhibition is open Monday – Saturday on 16th St NW, and includes a free booklet. The historic mansion that holds the exhibit is available for a guided tour as well, and features striking murals by Roberto Cueva del Río of Mexican history up the three levels of the main staircase. I believe there is an accompanying book and will provide additional details if I can confirm that.


(This review was written for the International Journal of Comic Art 21:2, but this version appears on both the IJOCA and ComicsDC websites on September 6, 2019, while the exhibit is still open for viewing.)

Sept 11: Newsprint: The Medium That Launched Comics exhibit gallery talk


8/13 – 9/27, 2019

The Cade Art Gallery at Anne Arundel Community College

Exhibition Reception with curator Warren Bernard on September 11, 2019 from 5 to 7pm.

The multi-billion dollar pop culture phenomenon of comics finds it roots in the cheap paper known as newsprint.

The colorful world of newspaper comic strip characters and today's superheroes can be traced back to the 1890s with the development of high-speed color printing presses. Color printing gave publishers a competitive edge in the bruising newspaper circulation wars of the time.
Newsprint exhibition installation
The large size of a broadsheet newspaper gave both editors and artists a vast canvas upon which to create ground-breaking comics like Little Nemo in Slumberland, Gasoline Alley, and The Spirit.
Here in the 21st Century, we still find newsprint relevant to the comics world, even as physical newspapers and comic books fade in favor of digital content. Newsprint's cheap production price coupled with the latest digital technologies have encouraged publishers and creators of indie comics to embrace the medium.
Covers of Resist!, Magic Bullet #4, and Smoke Signal
This has led to the creation of such long-running newsprint-based publications such as Smoke Signal and Magic Bullet, both mainstays of the indie comics field. The editors and artists of these and other comics across the United States leverage the large form factor and low costs of newsprint to create stories and compositions that could not be entertained in smaller print formats like comic books or in any digital medium.

This exhibit of over 50 pieces is curated by comics historian and Small Press Expo Executive Director Warren Bernard from his personal collection. It traces the use of newsprint in comics from its first commercial application in 1892, through the adoption of this very old medium by today's indie comics artists.




Gallery Hours

Monday–Thursday: 8am–6pm
Friday: 8am–4pm
Saturday: 8am–3pm

Exhibition Reception

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 from 5 to 7pm
Curator Warren Bernard will be on hand to discuss the exhibition and answer questions.
The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal exhibit opened last night (corrected)

100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal, an exhibit of political cartoons opened at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC last night, featuring remarks by Ambassador Martha Bárcena, El Universal newspaper editorial director David Aponte, and curator Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez.

(correction: we had earlier mis-identified Mr. Aponte and apologize for the error)




My pictures are at https://www.flickr.com/photos/42072348@N00/albums/72157710704426503

Regarding the photos of the remarks, the podium was flanked by the Mexican and American flags. Due to the angle I was standing at, I was only able to get the American flag in my shots.

The website description is

 EXHIBIT: 100 YEARS OF CARTOON IN EL UNIVERSAL

September 4 - October 30, 2019 at the Mexican Cultural Institute 


El Universal newspaper editorial director David Aponte

The Mexican Cultural Institute is proud to announce its newest exhibit, 100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal: Mexico - United States as Seen by Mexican Cartoonists, taking place from September 4 through October 30, 2019. The exhibit collects a brief sample of the thousands of cartoons published in 100 years in the widely known newspaper, El Universal, where almost all Mexican cartoonists of the 20th century have traveled through. This exhibit reads as a nodal part of the history of the cartoon in Mexico and includes a brief representation of the artists who traced and portrayed the history of the country. The pages of El Universal have shown the critical work, with aesthetic greatness, by artists such as Andrés Audiffred, Eduardo del Río Rius, Helioflores and Rogelio Naranjo, who have all shaped Mexican national events with art and humor.

The exhibition consists of seventy pieces; sixty-two of them orginal and of great value. Most came from the Museum of the Cartoon of Mexico City, from the authors themselves, and from private collectors. The works follow three themes: the American cartoon, the vision of the cartoonists around Uncle Sam and their vision around the American presidents. 100 Years of Cartoons in El Universal is complemented with the first cartoonists of El Universal and concludes with the great masters of the Mexican cartoon.


Ambassador Martha Bárcena

Right to left: Ambassador Martha Bárcena, El Universal newspaper editorial director David Aponte, and curator Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez.

curator Augustin Sanchez Gonzalez.