Big show next weekend: “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel” opens at the Norman Rockwell Museum and runs from November 10, 2007 through May 26, 2008. The musem is located in Stockbridge, Mass. The complete press release is here, but excerpts are below:

Lions released from a zoo in war-torn Baghdad; a mother’s battle with lung cancer; an American expatriate searching for her identity in Mexico- serious subject matter for any medium, but particularly so for a new wave of critically acclaimed and commercially successful long form comic books. In these illustrated stories, called graphic novels (a mostly grown-up version of the comic book), themes explored include culture, society, and current events, and topics range from heart-wrenching to thought-provoking to risqué. A fascinating new exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum, “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel,” examines the history, diversity, and tremendous popularity of this phenomenon considered by many to be a comics renaissance. On view from November 10, 2007 through May 26, 2008, the exhibition features over 146 artworks by 24 contemporary graphic novelists and historic practitioners of this ever-evolving art form.

“Comics are a language- and it’s a visual language,” observes graphic novelist Mark Wheatley. “It cuts across cultural barriers and national barriers. The language of comics is something that a man in Dubai can understand as easily as a man in Chicago.”

“LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel” examines the development of sequential art through its practitioners. Their work continues to suggest new ways of seeing: wordless narratives by 1920s woodcut artist Lynd Ward and modern-day commentator Peter Kuper; revolutionary underground comix by R. Crumb and humorous, personal “Girl Stories'” by Lauren Weinstein; the visual thrill of works by “Mad Magazine” co-creator Harvey Kurtzman and “Breathtaker” co-creator Marc Hempel; and the pioneering art of Will Eisner (“Contract with God”), Dave Sim (“Cerebus”), and Terry Moore (“Strangers in Paradise”). The exhibition features original book pages and studies, sketchbooks, and videotaped interviews with graphic novelists.

“‘LitGraphic’ offers a fascinating look at the development of a highly-influential art form through a talented new generation of visual storytellers,” notes Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt. “Many artists throughout history have employed the use of sequential storytelling, including Norman Rockwell. You can see this in a number of Rockwell’s most well-known paintings, such as ‘The Gossips’ and ‘Day in the Life of a Little Boy,’ as well as in quickly-sketched cartoons and doodles.”

A full slate of programs and events are planned, including the opening, and various events with Peter Kuper, Jay Hosler, Tim Callahan, Andrew Wales, Sarah Saerno Thomas and Marek Bennett. Details in the jump.

A Member’s Exhibition Opening for “LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel,” will be held on Saturday, November 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. Commentary begins at 6:30 p.m., with award-winning graphic novelist Peter Kuper. Mr. Kuper’s many works include the semi-autobiographical “Stop Forgetting to Remember,” adaptations of such classic tales as “The Metamorphosis” and “The Jungle,” “Sticks and Stones,” and the influential political magazine “World War III Illustrated.” The festivities will include a book signing with Kuper and other prominent comic creators. The reception includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash wine bar. The event is free for Museum members. There is no charge for children and teens, ages 18 and under. Admission for all others is $12. For reservations and more information, please call 413.298.4100, ext.221 by November 2.

“Stories in Sequence: Young Artists’ Exhibition” Opening November 10, 2 to 4 p.m. Discover graphic novel artworks created by Berkshire County high school students in this festive exhibition opening.

For Educators

“LitGraphic: A Preview for Educators” Friday, November 9, 4 to 7 p.m. Tours of “LitGraphic” and curriculum inspired by the exhibition, with commentary by graphic novelist Peter Kuper.

“Educators’ Symposium: Graphic Novels in the Classroom” Saturday, January 12, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. An interactive approach to student learning with graphic novelist Jay Hosler, artists/educators Tim Callahan and Andrew Wales, and librarian/graphic media specialist Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe.

Art Comes Alive! Family Day Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

“The Power of Imagination” November 17 An afternoon of exploration featuring performance artist Sarah Saerno Thomas.

“Cartoons for Kids” December 15 A reading, signing, and comic art workshop with illustrator Marc Rosenthal.

“Creating Cartoons and Comics” January 19 A hands-on introduction to splash pages and action sequences with artist/educator Marek Bennett.

“Superheroes!” February 16 A lively, fun-filled afternoon for families with artist/educator Andrew Wales.