I had the good fortune of seeing an early preview of Is That Art? at the Society of Illustrators a few weeks ago, and it’s a must-see for anyone who wants to connect with the magic and the power of creative design. The exhibit covers much of the first century of comics & cartoon art, and the work is displayed in ways that highlight deep connections and spark new ideas. A original Spark Plug parallel to a Peanuts strip where Snoopy is dismissed as a dog; a landmark portrait of Superman for Siegel-and-Shuster’s syndicate chief near a reflection on a woman’s dual identity by Fay King; the first Pogo newspaper strip; the original Fin-Fang-Foom-awakes page, signed by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers ….
I could go on, but I’ll leave you to discover all the wonders for yourself. The exhibit’s official opening is tonight from 5pm – 10pm at the Society of Illustrators, 128 E. 63rd St. in New York City. If you can’t make it this evening (or at all, alas), you can find some consolation in the extensive Yoe! Books library, which includes lavish and faithful restorations of material ranging from kitsch to classics. One place to start: the latest Yoe! Books/IDW publication, Milt Gross’ New York, which has been receiving impressive reviews.
If you can make it to the Society of Illustrators, don’t miss its other must-see exhibits. The original art from Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream is up through tomorrow (April 9), and seeing it at full size reminded me of seeing the original art for Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis at the Hammer Museum – a revelation. As for the exhibit on Alt-Weekly Comics curated by Warren Bernard and Bill Kartalopoulos, well, that too deserves a book of its own – this exhibit is important not just for chronicling an influential, if under-appreciated genre within North American comics, but for helping us understand the world today.