Anyway, they were obviously on my mind when I drew the sketch below as an adornment to a personal letter I wrote to a friend 22 years ago.
Odds are that the vast majority of you aren’t going to be in Birmingham, Alabama, during the next month, but should fate take you there (or if you’re an old pal of mine or blog-follower who happens to live in the area), you’ll find a page of my original comic book art included along with art by numerous other Hilltop graduates in the Alumni Art Exhibition that’ll be on view June 12-July 3 at my beloved alma mater, Birmingham-Southern College.
My fellow BSC alum Don Stewart (who’s a pretty fascinating artist himself, as you’ll see from his web site and presumably from art of Don’s that’ll be in the show) nagged—I mean, encouraged me to be part of the show until I finally overcame my resistance to packaging up yet another drawing for mailing. And I’m glad he persisted, since it’s pleasing to see that cartooning is being recognized these days by BSC as part of the "real" art landscape. That was a leap of the imagination that the Art Department Chair couldn’t quite muster when I was an undergraduate four decades ago (although a couple of more open-minded professors encouraged me individually).
The opening reception for the exhibit is this Friday (June 12) at 6 PM at the Durbin Gallery.
I’ll admit that I had misgivings when Denis Kitchen told me that the catalog would feature color photographs of the originals themselves instead of high-resolution scans, which is the way that my drawings normally make it into print. Color photos, after all, show all of the flaws and patches and corrections and marginal notes that are not expected to be visible to readers when a page of comic art is published, not to mention the yellowing that can afflict sheets of Bristol Board with the passage of time.
But now that I can see the finished catalog, I’ve gotta admit that there’s something especially intimate about encountering the sheets of art in their unadorned, physical "reality"—if photos in a book can be extrapolated by the imagination into something like physicality. I’ve always known that there is a special pleasure in seeing original comic book art on a gallery wall (or as part of a personal collection) instead of in reproduction, with all of the sweat marks, remnants of pencil sketches, and other artifacts left by the artist’s hand right there for the eyes to see. I wouldn’t have predicted, though, that this intimacy could be as effectively approximated in print as it has been in this book.
Suddenly a new world seemed possible. I couldn’t imagine, however, how far into that world I would ultimately venture.