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Exhibition Comic Art: 120 Years of Panels and Pages

  • Opened September 12, 2019
  • Graphic Arts Galleries, Ground Floor, Thomas Jefferson Building
Explore the Exhibit

Welcome to the world of comic art, where a wide variety of visual and narrative storytelling styles have evolved from panels in early newspapers to contemporary comic images. Through unique original drawings and printed pages, this exhibition features the artistic skills of master artists and emerging talents who have created some of the most famous, funny, and frightening characters to appear in print.

One early comic figure, the Yellow Kid, debuted in a full-size panel in the color pages of the New York World newspaper in 1895 and sparked the rise of comics as a popular new American art form. By the mid-1900s, in addition to the growing number of mainstream comic creators, diverse independent artists were creating comic art that examined their own life stories and commented on culture and politics. These innovators and change makers expanded the art form to include mini comics, graphic novels, fanzines, and web comics.

The lively visual content, dramatic narrative, and strong character development found in comics have attracted devoted audiences who follow the latest installment in whatever format the story appears. Over time, comic art and its characters have permeated film, television, books, and marketing—making characters familiar to viewers who may or may not read comics themselves.

The generous support of the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon and gifts in kind from the Small Press Expo have made this exhibition possible. All works are from the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division and the Serial and Government Publications Division at the Library of Congress.

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