The Arts Council of Princeton’s new exhibit, Heroes of Comic Art, features original published works by artists who created many of the comic heroes we enjoy in today’s books and films.
Artworks by Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan, John Buscema, Jack Davis, Steve Ditko and other artists are on display in the Taplin Gallery through March 10.
Each artist in this exhibition has made major contributions to the history of the comic books as we know them.
In 1940, Jack Kirby and writer-editor Joe Simon created the highly successful superhero character, Captain America for Timely Comics, predecessor of Marvel Comics. During the 1960s, Kirby and Stan Lee co-created the Fantastic Four, the Mighty Thor, the X-men and the Incredible Hulk among other characters for Marvel.
Steve Ditko also co-created Spider-Man. Previously, the DC Comics Carmine Infantino had introduced the Flash to readers which sparked the renewed interest in superhero comics. This allowed artists like Joe Kubert (Hawkman) and Gil Kane (Green Lantern) to follow suit and reintroduce other characters, initiating what historians consider to be the Silver Age of Comics. The original pages are all included in this exhibition.
The works on view are from the collection of Charles David Viera.
“At some point I became aware that I could own the original drawings used in the publication of the comics that educated and entertained me through my formative years,” Viera said. “Partly for their artistic value and partly for nostalgia purposes, I am presenting this exhibition of the true comic book heroes, the artists themselves.”
The timing of this exhibition coincides with the February 2018 release of Black Panther, an American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The character debuted in 1966 in an issue of Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic book series. Coincidently, Viera’s collection includes two pages from Jack Kirby’s Black Panther.
An exhibition of Viera’s own original work, Narrative Paintings, will simultaneously be displayed in the Arts Council’s Lower Level Gallery through Feb. 3.
Offering these two exhibitions simultaneously allows viewers further insight into Viera’s narrative work which was partly inspired by the skillset and narrative aspects found in comic books.
“As someone who aspired to be an artist one day, I studied the pages of comic books and learned the shorthand that those artists used to render anatomy, action and emotion in their compositions,” Viera said.
The Arts Council of Princeton is located in the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. An opening reception for the exhibits will be held Saturday, Jan. 13 from 3 to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org or call 609-924-8777.