The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








“Possibilities: Comic Arts is Not a Genre” exhibition at NHIA. Courtesy photo.

“Possibilities: Comic Arts is Not a Genre” 

Where: NHIA’s Roger Williams Gallery, 77 Amherst St., Manchester
When: Open now through Oct. 21, with an opening reception on Friday, Sept. 1, from 5 to 7 p.m.; gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
More info:, 623-0313

More than superheroes
Exhibition highlights the art of comics

By Angie Sykeny

 A new art exhibition by New Hampshire Institute of Art is showing that there are more to comics than superheroes and the Sunday funnies. “Possibilities: Comic Arts is Not a Genre,” open now through Oct. 21 with an opening reception on Friday, Sept. 1, is a collection of more than 100 pages of comics in a wide range of styles, from action and science fiction to memoir and history. 

“Comic arts is not a genre, but a bigger, broader medium,” said Joel Gill, local comic artist and curator of the exhibition. “You wouldn’t say that crime novels are the only kind of book there is, so you can’t say that all comics are about super heroes. We’re trying to show people that there are all these different possibilities within the medium of comics.”  
The collection contains comics from the 1920s through today, created by nationally renowned comic artists like Will Eisner, Allison Bechdel, Nate Powell, Alec Longstreth and Jack Kamen; as well as some local artists, including Gill, who will be showing a comic from his 2014 book Strange Fruit Volume I: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History
“My comics are all about stories from history that you wouldn’t hear about from a history book,” Gill said. “The comic in the exhibit is a local story about Richard Potter, a black man who lived here and was actually the first American stage magician.” 
The other comics being featured come from the collections of The Center for Cartoon Studies in Hartford, Vermont, and from comic artist and collector Dan Mazur of Cambridge, Mass., who is also featuring one of his own comics, eBay and the Buffalo Springfield Drug Bust. The comic is an autobiographical story about Mazur as he “plays detective” to uncover the mysterious historical event referenced in a song he heard on an album he bought on eBay.  
“I do a lot [of comics] based on that kind of thing — historical incidents and true stories,” he said. “My work is very independent and self-directed. I basically just tell the stories that interest me, and that covers a bit of a range, from history to fantasy to science fiction to just-for-laughs.” 
The comics in the exhibition are all original works, done in various mediums including pen and ink, charcoal, watercolor and even crayon. Many of them have visible marks where the artist tested out his or her brushes and ink pens, and some even show pieces of the original sketches done in blue pencil before they were traced over in ink. 
“I love to see the actual piece of paper the artist drew on,” Mazur said. “You can see what they actually did with their pens and brushes in order to get that comic into your newspaper. There’s something very magical about that.” 
While comics have been gaining more recognition in the fine arts world in recent years, Mazur said, exhibits like the one at NHTI are still hard to come by. 
“Most shows don’t focus on comics outside of a published context,” he said. “It’s a rare opportunity for people to see high-level comic art in a show like this that really focuses on the visual art aspect of it.” 
The exhibition follows NHTI’s recent announcement that it will offer an undergraduate comic arts minor starting this fall and a comic arts major starting in the fall of 2018. 

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