This is a review of the companion book to the exhibition that was put together by Bruce Greenville of the Vancouver Art Gallery, along with a panel of co-curators, including Art Spiegelman and Seth.
I have not had the privilege of actually seeing the exhibit that this book is a companion to. Honestly, I didn't even know there was such a thing, or realize what exactly it was until the day I borrowed it from the library.
The book covers the artists and creators featured in the exhibition. Each gets a loving and informative one page essay, and a few pages that show examples of their work. That makes this book an excellent primer for anyone interested in learning about the van guard in the various media that this covers. There were a lot of names in here that I had heard of, and a few that I actually knew something about.
The book is a 34.95 paperback from University of California Press, and is available through Amazon, and hopefully your local library. I loved reading this, as I think it goes a long way to improve my 'cultural literacy', but I am not sure it is a book that I need to own.
The book opens with a forward, and a chapter that serves as an introduction and explanation for the exhibition and what follows. It explains how it came about and how the specific subjects were chosen.
The book is then divided into seven sections for the seven different areas of focus: Comics, Graphic Novels, Animated Cartoons, Computer and Video Games, Anime, Manga, and Visual Art. For each section you get 8 subjects and 30 to 40 pages exploring the lot of them. I love how concise it is. The format made reading it very quick, but sort of leisurely at the same time.
There are a lot of people you would expect to see, but also, a lot of people that you don't see. That's the great thing about the exhibition format, is dealing with what you get, and sort of resolving it all inside the context of the other pieces. You get Chris Ware and Seth, as well as Herriman and Kurtzman, Alison Bechdel, Daniel Clowes, and Kim Deitch, among others. Over The Hedge and Gertie The Dinosaur, and much much more, including various anime and manga creators, artists, and even a brief forray into the Anime soundtrack.
It's a really great way to learn the significance of an awful lot of important creators and artists, without having to try too hard. It makes it fun at the same time. Well... It was fun for me. This may be a bit dry for some, but if you are hungry for this stuff, and not already an authority on it all, it's a pretty great book for a companion to a museum piece.