A group exhibition of web comics curated by John Seven.
John Seven is a unique voice in journalism. His extraordinary essays have the ability to illuminate even the most obtuse works that the art world has to offer. However, it is with equal enthusiasm and deft analysis that he explores the world of comics. While graphic novels as a medium have had a profound cultural impact in the last twenty years, it is rare to find an arts journalist who does not differentiate between cartoonists and gallery artists.
In our programming at Greylock Arts, we are always interested in both the intersection of art and technology and the presentation of work that is not typically represented within traditional gallery settings. Profound changes have occurred in the world of comics as a result of the internet. Cartoonists have embraced social networking sites and self-publishing tools like no other community of artists. Seven’s essays have not only explored traditional print comics but online works as well.
When we learned of Seven’s own creative work in comics, most notably collaborating with wife and illustrator Jana Christy on the popular 1990’s series “Very Vicky”, we approached him with the idea of his curating an exhibition of online works. His remarkable expertise coupled with his own experience as a comics creator provides a unique perspective into this world.
Introduction by John Seven
It was back in the early 1990s that self-publishing began to boom in the world of comics, but as liberating as it was, it could also be a prison. For every person who was able to make it all work — somehow — there were probably several who wiped out. That’s because it was a progressive idea stuck in the old format.
The Internet existed at that time, certainly, but it had not reached the sort of critical mass that it now enjoys — and it was definitely not considered one of the major delivery systems of entertainment. And so self-publishers slogged through the process of printing their work — which meant lots of money and lots of time, not to mention lots of headaches — and distributing it — which meant dealing with a cabal of comics world distributors who often dipped their toes into quality control in order to guide the market. Read More
Truth Serum by Jon Adams
Truth Serum brings all the modern dysfunction and ennui prevalent in America and dresses it up in superhero costumes. In this way, it’s just horrible, painful, it’s a cascade of interactions that are so chillingly awful that you almost laugh out of nervousness. In the end, you just laugh because you’re unashamed. Read More | View Comic
Goodbye, Crestfallen by Aaron Alexovich
Ably walking that vast visual line between the horrific and the cuddly, Aaron Alexovich returns with his Serenity Rose character in “Goodbye, Crestfallen,” a series of considerable energy and remarkable graphic realization. Read More | View Comic
Underwire by Jennifer Hayden
Jennifer Hayden’s “Underwire” is an entirely honest slice of life that probably benefits from first hand experience as a parent, but it isn’t mandatory. “Underwire” might even be revelatory in its depiction a typical moment out between a mother and daughter and the extreme tension that a watercress sandwich can cause on one side of the interaction, while on the other, a sweet and naive satisfaction mixed with hopefulness. Read More | View Comic
Super Spy by Matt Kindt
Though recently collected into a wonderful graphic novel, Matt Kindt’s “Super Spy” first saw life as a web comic. It’s a dense work, packed with nostalgia for the intrigue and confusion of old -style spying, where gadgets and action are part of the mix, but they never obscure the human stories. In Kindt’s tales, the larger scope of espionage is an excuse to tell smaller stories. Read More | View Comic
Zip and Li’l Bit by Trade Loeffler
In the Zip and Li’l Bit comic strips. creator Trade Loeffler takes the old fashioned approach, coming up with a fun and gentle slice of magical whimsy involving one mischievous boy and his sister who never speaks, but whispers in his ear. In their world, gargoyles not only speak but try to keep an eye on them, kayaks float, birds speak Spanish, shadows go on adventures, reflections run wild, and young insomniacs watch magic unfold in lieu of a safe night in bed. Loeffler’s work is loads of fun and the situation are inventive, utilizing a playful absurdity from which his stories propel. Read More | View Comic
Wondermark by Dave Malki
“Wondermark” is the sort of creature that begs mystery — how did it come about? And how can you effectively describe it? It might sound less than the sum of its parts, but here goes — “Wondermark” is a collection of traditional three or four panel daily style comic strips that, instead of cartooning, uses stock art cut outs manipulated to act out the humor scenario in David Malki’s mind. The humor itself is sometimes coarse, but not in a stupid way, and employs modern attitudes, conversational tones and absolute absurdity in the dialog juxtaposed with the “ye olde” and sometimes stodgy visuals. Read More | View Comic
Various Comics by Phil McAndrew
In But Are You Man Enough? cartoonist Phil McAndrew gets to the point — dads don’t want your daughters to marry you because they like you, they want them to marry you so they have competition in their never-ending quest to one up everyone around them and prove something. Continually. Into infinity. At least the guy in this story does and his disdain for artists is something that plenty of other guys share. McAndrew hints that an artist not only has to play the game, but the make the game his own. Personal experience? Read More | View Comic
The 10 Doctors by Rich Morris
There’s lots of fan fiction out there, but not as much fan comics. And when you do stumble upon a fan comic, it’s usually brief and amateurish. Not “The Ten Doctors.” a sprawling epic by a talented cartoonist. It’s a work that both takes its subject seriously and intersperses lots of healthy self-deprecation towards it.
And it’s insane. Read More | View Comic
Next Door Neighbor by Various Creators, Featuring “Hank and Barbara” by Joan Reilly
Everybody, just everybody, has a weird next door neighbor story — and we all have speculative thoughts about our next door neighbors, too. We may not all be Gladys Kravitz staring out the window at them, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t pay attention to what their neighbors were up to and weave theories about it behind closed doors. Read More | View Comic
Garfield Minus Garfield by Dan Walsh
“Garfield Minus Garfield” isn’t so much a creation as an uncreation — deconstruction — but who says Web comics can’t be that?
The idea here is simple — Dublin resident Dan Walsh takes “Garfield” strips and digitally fiddles with them so the rotund cat is no longer in the strip. With Garfield expunged from the proceedings, what we get are a series of absurd, bizarre single person ramblings by the strip’s resident human character, Jon Arbuckle. This noodling, as the Web site proudly proclaims, leads to “an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life.” Read More | View Comic
A few more links for works not included in this exhibit, but still very highly recommended!
ACT-I-VATE, a webcomix collective conceived by Dean Haspiel, debuted February 1st, 2006, on the blogging platform, Livejournal, and featured the works of founding members Dean Haspiel, Dan Goldman, Nick Bertozzi, Michel Fiffe, Leland Purvis, Nikki Cook, Tim Hamilton, and Josh Neufeld. Since then, the collective has expanded by hand-picking cartoonists at a regular rate to achieve its current membership.
The Abominable Charles Christopher
Karl Kerschi’s gorgeously realized absurd tale of a Bigfoot creature — Kerschi has a bright future ahead of him, this comic is a wonder.
Amazing Facts and Beyond
Fun and absurd non-fiction (think Ripley’s Believe It or Not but better) by some of the best cartoonists anywhere – Kevin Huizenga, Dan Zettwoch, and Ted May.
Among the Silver Stars
Takes the Shazam idea and makes it dark!
World’s sweetest superhero comic, Butterfly was formerly done by Dean Trippe alone, but now he has creative partner Jemma Salume sharing the fun.
Kazu Kibuishi is one of the best there is in regard to kid-oriented comics — he’s the author of the recent Scholastic graphic novel “Amulet: The Stonekeeper” and editor on the Villard Books series “Flight.” His web comic, “Copper,” will soon be published in a collection from Scholastic. In Kibuishi’s colorful and fluid cartooning style, with inventive layout work, “Copper” is easily one of the best, if not the best, kid-friendly web comics there is.
Indigo Kelleigh’s adventure comedy is old-fashioned and lots of fun.
Science fiction as it should be! Nick Bertozzi’s mysterious and entirely alien strip should not be missed!
Joe Infurnari’s fantastic multi-leveled strip that is one part scientific drama, one part mystical rumination on mortality.
The best web comics host you will find anywhere – their online effort actually surpasses the scope of the publishing efforts and that’s no easy feat!
Presents a lot of strong, singular work that will appeal to non-comics fans.
Great one stop for some well-done work of multiple genres.