Are comics a form of high art? How do we talk about them, what is the vocabulary we use? Can we comment on the nuance of the strokes and the realism in the eyes, or do we talk about the emotions they conjure with the metaphor of the story-lines? Perhaps comics are more like poetry than painting, definitely separate from standard literature yet not distinguished to the point of pure illustration. The use of image and choice words combined really does bring the comic art phenomenon into a realm of its own. It really is serious business and that's why the exhibition is called This Is Serious. This curation of art spanning from 37 Canadian Comics from all over the vast country shows off how diverse, relevant and artistic comics really are. It's not about the money, although people buy them all the time, they only do that because the work speaks to them in ways nothing else can.
Renowned artists and illustrators such as Chester Brown, Fiona Smyth, and Julie Doucet can be found in among the collection, which appropriately looks at the popular and the underground with an equal spotlight. Like most creative arts people, it's never about becoming wealthy but contributing something of cultural value to an established community. Becoming a figure-head in the circles you love is a great way of giving back to the culture that made you.
It may not be everyone's favourite read, comic books and graphic novels are often treated as separate from literature. Despite its quality and popularity, Nick Drnaso's Sabrina only got as far as the Man Booker Prize Longlist. Okay, that's quite an achievement, however there's a long way to go until the medium is treated with equal vigour to standard writing or standard painting.
This Is Serious is being exhibited at a major Canadian museum. The Art Gallery of Hamilton is world famous for its listings and projects. Placing a curation of national creators of comic book art is hoped to elevate the status of this now traditional and multi-generational art form. Is this just a flash in the pan comic book boom, or a natural evolution into mainstream culture that's long overdue? Comic book fans probably believe the latter. It does take time for something of clear value to make its way into the general consensus unless there's massive marketing and pressure from authorities like school or religion.
Make sure you catch the exhibit if you can, it's open until January 2020.
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