Art Museum hosts graphic novel exhibition

The NIU Art Museum will host “Graphic Novel Realism: Backstage at the Comics” from Tuesday, March 20, through Friday, May 25, in the Altgeld Galleries.

Guest-curated by Eisner Award-winning graphic novelist, artist and former co-editor of Raw, Paul Karasik, “Graphic Novel Realism: Backstage at the Comics” features the work of contemporary cutting-edge creators of non-traditional, full-length graphic novels and shares some of the workings behind their creative process.

About the exhibition,  Karasik writes:

“Making comics is serious business. These seven artists are united by a rigorous working process utilizing a variety of source materials that ground their comics in the real world, no matter how fantastic their tales.”

Also featured in the exhibition are Joyce Farmer, Jaime Hernandez, Jason Lutes, Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash, Seth and James Sturm.

Farmer is a veteran underground cartoonist who spent more than 13 years writing “Special Exits.” The New York Times Sunday Book Review described “Special Exits” as “forceful, unsparing and equally concerned, in its way, with saying the unsayable.”

Hernandez is the co-creator of the black-and-white independent comic book Love and Rockets. Winner of numerous awards for the series, which has now spanned several decades and a dedicated fan base, Hernandez occasionally creates drawings for The New Yorker as well as album and DVD covers (most recently for the Indigo Girls and the Criterion Collection, respectively).

Karasik is the Eisner Award winning creator of several graphic novels. His co-adaptation of Paul Auster’s “City of Glass” has been cited as one of the 100 Best Comics of the 20th Century. His gag cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker. Karasik’s “The Ride Together” is featured in the exhibition.

Lutes has been working on his graphic novel, “Berlin” since 1995. The story of Weimar Germany is chronicled through the lives of regular citizens caught up in the vortex of a changing pre-WWII culture. Meticulously researched, “Berlin” is a majestic tour-de-force.

Newgarden is one of the creators of the 1980s icon, “Garbage Pail Kids.” Newgarden publishes in diverse magazines, from the avant-garde comics magazine Raw to The New York Times. The Bow Wow books for children, created with Megan Montague Cash, will be showcased in this exhibition.

Seth has worked on a variety of projects including the recent Penguin Classics re-edition of “The Portable Dorothy Parker.” He is the designer of the 25-volume series “The Complete Peanuts,” and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. Comics readers are familiar with Seth’s graphic novels, “It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken” and the ongoing “Clyde Fans.” This exhibition will feature work and inspiration for “George Sprott.”

Sturm is the author of “James Sturm’s America,” “Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow,” “Adventures in Cartooning,” “The Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules” and “Market Day,” which will be part of this exhibition. He is the co-founder of The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.

An exhibition brochure will be available, and numerous programs are scheduled with Karasik:

  • Wednesday, March 21. Karasik will present “Adaptation,” an examination of the process of creating the graphic adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass, at 7:15 p.m. in Room 315 of Altgeld Hall.
  • Three events will be held Thursday, March 22, beginning with a brown bag lecture, “The Ride Together,” from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 100 of the Campus Life Building. Karasik will share insights into the collaborative process of writing a book with his sister, Judy, about autism in the family.
  • From 4:30 to 6 p.m. that afternoon, a reception will be held for Karasik.
  • Following that, he will present a lecture titled “How to Read a Comic” in Room 315 of Altgeld Hall. He will examine the basic language of the comics through deconstruction of a few classic comics, such as “Nancy.” The reception and lectures are free and open to the public.

Funding for Karasik’s visit and programs was provided by the Harvey and Elizabeth Plotnick Fund of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Supplementary programs in conjunction with this exhibition will include a film series at the Egyptian Theatre and a Get-On-The-Bus trip to the Newberry Library.

Located on the west-end first floor of Altgeld Hall, the galleries are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours.

Exhibitions and lectures are free; donations are appreciated.

Pay parking is available in the visitor’s lot on Carroll Avenue and at metered spots in front of Altgeld Hall. Free parking is available Saturdays and during receptions and visiting artist lectures in the lot northeast of Gilbert and College Drives.

The exhibition is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; the Friends of the NIU Art Museum; and the Dean’s Circle of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, NIU Foundation.

Call (815) 753-1936 for more information.

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