Grab Your Comics-Loving Teen and Go: Art Spiegelman Retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Filed under: News
Once upon a time, comic books chronicled the adventures of characters like Superman or Archie and were read by wide-eyed kids. In recent decades, however, comics have gained prestige, new and longer narrative forms, and adult audiences. Through June 9, B.C.'s Vancouver Art Gallery is highlighting this journey with an exhibit titled Art Spiegelman: CO-MIX: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics and Scraps, the first-ever retrospective of one of the most influential figures in comics.
Spiegelman's work — particularly Maus, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning series detailing his father’s WWII experiences as a Holocaust survivor — is often credited with helping comic art gain mainstream recognition. The exhibit includes more than 400 drawings, sketches, studies and panels relating to not only Maus, but Spiegelman's early underground work from the 1970s, as well as more recent comics and illustrations.
While much of CO-MIX is more suitable for teens and adults (with some mature content, sexual themes and strong language), some of the show's sections, such as “Kids Comics,” are specifically family-friendly. The gallery's robust family programs (see below) can help kids and parents explore the most appropriate aspects of Spiegelman's work. (Make a weekend of it in Vancouver using ParentMap's "48 Hours" itinerary as a guide.)
The first section of the exhibit, "Topps Candy," features work dating from Spiegelman’s early professional career, when he began drawing for Topps Candy Company. Kids will enjoy the nearly floor-to-ceiling display of "Garbage Pail Kids" and "Wacky Package" trading cards, stickers and memorabilia.
The two sections devoted to Maus are arguably the show’s centerpiece. Visitors can study some of the earliest sketches of Maus (from 1978) and track the work’s evolution. Black-and-white photos of Spiegelman and his mother are displayed alongside the cartoon renderings (with little, furry mice scattered throughout the glass cases). For budding artists, it may offer insight into how reality can be creatively interpreted.