Why The Exhibition Will Change Your View On Comics & Graphic Novels

6 April 2016 | 6:37 pm | Tim Mayne

"I think people should expect to be moved."

Art Gallery of WA curator Robert Cook says the idea behind the exhibition has been on his mind for some time.

"It has been on my mind and on the gallery's books for five or six years and you have an idea about making a great show and then it gets scheduled.

"The impetus for the show was to share some work from artists that I love and in their own right and on their own terms. The works really speak to people and have a unique level of sophistication and it just happened they are comic-type people. I wasn't trying to show the depth or breadth of comics but it was really about bringing the work of these great artists out of the pages."

Cook says the mood of the works stretches from tragedy and sadness through to more frenetic and joyous works.

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"It is quite a varied lot, we have Gabrielle Bell from the US whose works are diaristic and very small and detailed but they also weave in very subtly with aspects of magic realism. She is a comic art version of a stand-up comedian.

"She is amplifying various themes but they are about her and her encounters in the world and have that stand up vibe about them.

"With Stephen Collins we have a big sequence of his book, The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, so basically it is a beard that starts growing on an office worker called Dave - it keeps growing and growing and it challenges the entire town. He has drawn it by pencil and it is a great piece, he is a weekly cartoonist for The Guardian.

"We also have John Porcellino who has been making comics since 1989 and the punk theme and the DIY aesthetic in and around the hardcore scene. They are quite small and very similar - he is a comic art minimalist. Just with a few lines he has created an environment you really feel."

Some of the works on display are quite sombre, but a necessary addition to the collection of works on display.

"We have Aisha Franz from Germany bringing in works from her book, Earthling, and some stand-alone comics. Her works track things like her first love, who happened to be a big beefy lifeguard and he doesn't reciprocate her feelings and instead falls in love with a 'Pamela Anderson' and is heartbroken.

"We have Anders Nilson with his classic work, Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, which is about the death of his fiancée, Cheryl Weaver."

Cook says people can expect the unexpected when viewing the collection.

"I think people will come in as comic tragics and go in with a mindset but two steps in you will see it is an art exhibition and they speak to you as artworks and drawings. I think people should expect to be moved and also interested in the skill levels and the command of the visual language but will transform most people's ideas of what is possible in comics.

"Every one will have their own expectations whether they are Asterix or Phantom fans, they will find them honest and searching speaking to them as one human to another - they are very honest, real works."

Originally published in X-Press Magazine