As some of you know, I have this other life as an academic. As part of that I’m on an email list for announcements and other comics related stuff, and it was through them that I heard about
“Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics.” It’s an exhibit opening at The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) next Thursday (opening reception starts at 7 pm) and running through 14 January of next year. Embarrassingly, I hadn’t heard anything about it until today, but it struck me as somewhat salient after that whole musing on “gateway webcomics” a few weeks back.
I’m cribbing some from the press release, the phrasing of which I find particularly savvy: “Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics” brings comics from the web page to the MoCCA stage. The exhibit explores three aspects of online comics: the unique format and design of webcomics, their appeal to niche audiences, and the transitions between web and print comics. I’m particularly captivated by that last part, even though I’m still thinking about what “niche audiences” means.
What’s also interesting is that the exhibit is curated by Jennifer Babcock, creator of C’est La Vie, which makes a lot of sense: a webcomic artist curating an exhibit about webcomics is going to have a particularly keen understanding of what to highlight and what makes webcomics–especially in this perhaps more traditional context on a museum wall (the last exhibit I saw there was quite well done)–distinct and unique.
Again, from the press release: This exhibit incorporates original artwork, prints of finished art, and digital displays. Featured in the exhibit will be the immensely popular Penny Arcade, PhD, Sluggy Freelance, User Friendly, Diesel Sweeties, Mom’s Cancer, Finder, Supernatural Law, Questionable Content, Something Positive, Scary Go Round, Achewood, Narbonic, Goats, among many others. Of that list there was only one title which was totally new to me, so that’s pretty much the official end of my new-to-webcomics status.
There’s also an exhibit running at the same time for ACT-I-VATE, which “features daily installments of in-progress graphic novels from a group of accomplished cartoonists.” “We’ve discussed a showcase for ACT-I-VATE in the past, and including it as a feature within the webcomics show was the perfect opportunity,” said MoCCA Curator Bill Roundy. “ACT-I-VATE has some fantastic cartoonists, and it has a unique focus on serialized graphic novels.” I had no idea this group existed; in truth, it sounds kind of amazing.
All in all, I think this exhibit is going to be really interesting, even though I’m not going to be able to make it to the opening for a couple of reasons (Rosh Hashanah? Starting a brand-new extra-awesome job?). That said, I’m totally going to see it at some point: I’ve been fortunate enough to see little bits and pieces of some different webcomics as they’re in process, and I’m hoping some of those are part of the exhibit. I’m very interested in the various steps these webcomics take in order to land at the finished product.
One of them in particular which has some particularly cool behind-the-scenes that you don’t see on the screen is Overcompensating , which I’m very much hoping is in the exhibit (even though Topato from WiGU is on the poster). I’ve been getting back into Overcompensating lately, kicked off by a very random recent supermarket parking lot conversation to do with the infamous bumpersticker; two folks parked and got out of their car just as my housemate and I were returning to mine.
“You’re one of those Eastworks folks!” the woman said, excitedly.
“Uh, yeah, I guess. I mean, I used to be,” I said.
“You’ve got the bumper sticker!”
Yes. Yes, I do. So did a random woman I passed last week on I-91, and so did the dude at whom I honked last week who snuck out in traffic in Holyoke in front of my car. Now that I’m looking, I’m kind of seeing these bumper stickers everywhere.
I think I might have to give them out at Halloween…