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Category Archives: Sculpture and Comic Art

Sculpture and Comic Art #4: Framing Motion: Sculpture, the Body and Implied Movement by Paul Atkinson

This is a formal companion piece to Kirstie Gregory’s excellent investigation of the incorporation of comic icons and themes in contemporary sculpture.

To examine the relationship between two art forms it is important to look for fields in common before turning to an analysis of their differences. There is no question that there is a fundamental difference between comics and figurative sculpture in their articulation of the relationship between form and matter and in the obvious fact that one is in two dimensions and the other three, but if we examine both on a slightly more abstract plane, that of movement, there is much that draws the mediums together. Movement might seem to be an odd place to ground a comparison for most figurative sculpture does not move – unlike kinetic sculpture in which there is always movement between parts – and a comic book character is unable to traverse a panel irrespective of the powers they are said to possess. It is, however, this very lack of actual movement that serves as a conceptual link between sculpture and comics. The figures may not move in space but there is nevertheless an implication that they could move, that they are about to move, or indeed that they have reached a point of rest. In each case the figure is not static but rather trapped forever in the act of moving – a distinction that is elided in Zeno’s paradoxes.

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Comics Forum 2011: Registration Open

Registration for Comics Forum 2011 is now open. The registration form for this year’s event is available to download here or from the Comics Forum 2011 page.

The full programme will be available shortly; details are still being finalised. Preliminary running times are as follows:

16/11/2011 (1000-1645): Sculpture and Comic Art

Evening: Keynote session (included in ticket price)

17/11/2011 (1000-1645): Graphic Medicine: Visualizing the Stigma of Illness

Evening: Conference dinner (not included in ticket price)

18/11/2011 (1000-1645): Materiality and Virtuality: A Conference on Comics

Evening: Keynote session (included in ticket price)

Tickets will be priced as follows:

1 day ticket: £10

3 day ticket: £30

5 day ticket: £40 (includes two-day pass to Thought Bubble convention)

Conference accommodation will be provided at a reduced rate by the Leeds Marriott Hotel. Prices are as follows:

3 night stay: £99 per night single & £109 per night double / twin BB

5 night stay: £90 per night single & £100 per night double / twin BB

Click here to be taken to a booking form with the relevant discount code already filled in.

Details are subject to change; more information will be made available on the Comics Forum 2011 webpage as we get it.

Comics Forum 2011 is supported by Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, the Henry Moore Institute, Dr Mel Gibson, Routledge, Intellect and Molakoe Graphic Design.

IH

 

Sculpture and Comic Art #3: Comic Appropriation in Modern and Contemporary Art by Kirstie Gregory

Its ostensibly ‘innocent’ form allows for the dissemination and articulation of difficult ideas in an accessible manner, providing a platform for political and social commentary as well as a vehicle for escapism, introspection and deviance. The comic book’s appeal to contemporary artists is rooted in this visual language and its potential for pictorial storytelling [1]

The appropriation of comic figuration and manipulation of the same by modern and contemporary sculptors is extremely common. Mickey Mouse makes numerous appearances, Takashi Murakami surely wouldn’t exist as an artist (or would be an extremely different one) without the influence of Manga imagery, Pinocchio has been taken out of his Disney-style fairytale by both Maurizio Cattelan and Paul McCarthy, and use has been made of the small scale figurine made popular by the comic book industry by artists as diverse as Jake and Dinos Chapman and Thomas Schütte. One of the most interesting artists to use comic themes, and one whose work is most difficult to categorise, is LA based artist Mike Kelley. Kelley has made installation art work based on the fictional city of Kandor carried round in a bottle by Superman, as well as using his partially complete set of the adult comic Sex to Sexty in his Missing Time Color Exercises (1998) – part-Mondrian, part Ellsworth Kelly, part personal response/rebuke to art school colour exercises. Mickey Mouse is better known through the medium of film than the comic strip, but animation, the process of telling a sequential visual narrative through (originally) hand-inked ‘cells’, is arguably the conjoined twin of the printed comic strip and the concept of the cartoon character is synonymous in the modern Western mind with Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse Weekly was also the first British comic based on American characters (first published in 1936 it ran for over 10 years).[2] In the latter half of the twentieth century two artists on either side of the Atlantic used this iconic image in very different ways…

For me perhaps the most unexpected appearance of Mickey Mouse is in British sculptor Michael Sandle’s A Twentieth Century Memorial, (1971-78). Sandle is a sculptor apparently not concerned with fitting in with contemporary artistic trends – this disarming figurative sculpture is not something one can imagine anyone else making – its appearance has the jarring effect of combining familiar, easily recognisable forms to make up an alarming whole. The sculpture has a wooden, circular base, with a 570cm diameter. On this are placed cast bronze elements 140cm at their highest.[3] It is an imposing structure. Three large (human scale? unfortunately I have not seen this work first-hand) bronze mouse heads are placed around the wooden circle, one on a cushion, but the main structure comprises a large human skeleton, with a mouse’s head, ‘manning’ a machine gun.

Marco Livingstone describes the conception of the sculpture as follows:

A Twentieth Century Memorial was initially conceived as an indictment of the United States and of the war that it was than waging in Vietnam. Mickey Mouse was chosen as a symbol for America, not as a lovable cartoon character but in the slang sense of simple-minded and inconsequential. In the course of researching and making the sculpture, Sandle not only witnessed the departure of the Americans from Vietnam, but became aware of the historical background of the war and Britain’s role in it. It no longer seemed tenable to single out just the United States, so he changed the title as part of an upgrading of the sculpture as a monument to general stupidity and futility.[4]

Sandle went on to use the head of Mickey Mouse in further sculptures in particular reference to Joseph Goebbels as an exemplar not only for the horrors of war but also for his mastery of propaganda; Sandle saw the manipulated Mickey Mouse head as an accurate symbol for what was becoming a global industry of manipulation and military power.

Across the Atlantic Claes Oldenburg, a Swedish born sculptor who moved to the US at an early age, was developing a very different work with an interesting synchronicity. Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum was a long time in the planning, but the artist was given the opportunity to realise his idea at Documenta 5 in 1972.[5] Oldenburg’s interest in consumer collectibles had developed over a long period, coinciding with an interest in the display of both art objects and mass-produced ‘shop window’objects. Oldenburg was himself an avid collector and the objects which he placed inside the Mouse Museum were a mix of his own small-scale works, objects altered in some way by the artist, and items simply found or purchased -‘unaltered’ objects. Oldenburg was interested in objects both for their nostalgic and their formal qualities, of which the Mickey Mouse head itself is a perfect example. Oldenburg’s artistic collaborator and wife Coosje van Bruggen describes the design of the museum:

The design … is derived from a correspondence between a basic geometric form and a practical object whose form has been determined by its function. The resulting images are easily translated into architectural constructions … The form of the Mouse Museum is based on Oldenburg’s Geometric Mouse, a combination of the early film camera and a stereotypical cartoon mouse.[6]

At a similar time Oldenburg was working on The Ray Gun Wing building – a work with the same museological conceit as the Mouse Museum and a similar comic-book history within its most basic figuration. The Ray Gun was very much one of the chief weapons of choice for comic book heroes of the artist’s childhood; both the Mouse Museum and The Ray Gun Wing are heavily indebted to comic forms and the emotional content which becomes embedded within those forms.

An artist who has appropriated familiar comic characters very differently, over a lengthier time period, is LA based artist Paul McCarthy. Appropriated figures include numerous Disney images, the Olive Oyl character from the Popeye comic strip, the mascot/cover star of Mad magazine Alfred E Neuman, as well as recurrently, the caricatured image created by rubber masks of among others, George Bush and Osama Bin Laden. It is difficult to say how much it matters in McCarthy’s work exactly who the comic character is. Sometimes, as in the performance/video work Pinocchio Pipenose Householddilemma (1994) in which the father figure apparently turns on his son, it adds a level of meaning. In other instances, as in the Olive Oyl performances of the early 1980s, all this individual seems to add to the associations of the cartoon is that her name fits as a pleasing literal pun for the olive oil generously, nauseatingly and frequently used by McCarthy.

Ralph Rugoff explains this use of masks (which extends to more generalised caricature in McCarthy’s oeuvre) as follows:

McCarthy’s use of masks invoked a stereotyped identity, submerging his individuality in the anonymity of mass production and mass culture … it also endowed McCarthy’s appearance with an uncanny hybrid character, part human and part cartoon.[7]

In an early forerunner to Mike Kelley’s unmediated appropriation of the comic in Missing Time Color Piece, very early in his career McCarthy made work by simply scribbling his signature over Playboy cartoons. McCarthy’s subversive tendencies are very subtle here – perhaps by casually autographing the cartoons he is underlining the casual acceptance of moral slippage and misogyny in US society, perhaps he is poking fun at comic artists who judge their slight work so valuable a prominent signature is necessary. The political and sociological meanings behind these works run deep both in terms of the artist’s personal history and the multiple layers of meaning in the art. McCarthy himself is quite clear about his motivations, “I am interested in the appropriation of the aesthetic of Disneyland and purposefully abstracting and distorting the images. As early as the late 1970s, I was interested in Disney and fascism, children and conditioning, authority and patriarchy – a natural, unnatural mix.”[8]

The approach of Pierre Huyghe and Phillipe Parreno to the cartoon, or rather in this instance Anime figure, is very different from all of the above, in that they appear to be more interested in removing their character from original context than hanging onto associations. In their 1999 project, No Ghost Just a Shell, Huyghe and Parreno purchased the copyright to a figure from a Japanese design agency which specialised in developing figures for the manga industry. The figure bought, ‘Annlee’ was a very simply developed model, and therefore very cheap. The artists thought of Annlee as a sign, rather than a person, a sign whose history was prolonged by this purchase, as the cheap nature of the character meant it would have had a very limited life in the manga world (no special powers, no particular strengths built in by the design agency). The project title refers to Masamune Shirow’s manga classic, Ghost in the Shell, which explores the possibilities of infiltrating human minds and hijacking identity.[9]

A press release produced to accompany the final exhibition in the project describes the duo’s next step as follows:

The original computer file, the first version of ‘Annlee’, was digitally reduced by Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno to the form of an almond-eyed, empty artificial being. This was made accessible from then onwards as part of an exhibition project that has extended in time and space.[10]

Following video installation exhibitions in Paris, Huyghe and Parreno commissioned other artists to make work which comprised paintings, posters, books, film works and sculptures. Issues of ownership, production, presentation, authorship, identity, and narrative were explored in the ensuing Annlee art works. The issue of copyright was a major concern for the artists, who following a final group exhibition of all the Annlee works in Zürich, organised for the sign’s copyright to be legally transferred back to it, preventing any future work using the individual/image.

These are just a handful of examples of comic appropriation. One could go back further in history, or widen the group of artists extensively to encompass many both better and lesser known than the few touched on above, and just as examples are profuse so too are motivations and meanings.

Kirstie Gregory is the co-convenor of Sculpture and Comic Art, taking place at Leeds Art Gallery on the 16th of November as part of Comics Forum 2011.

[1] – Emma Mahoney, “An Introduction to Cult Fiction”, Cult Fiction, exhibition catalogue, Hayward publishing, 2007, p.11.

[2] – Roger Sabin, Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art, Phaidon Press Limited, 1996, p.33.

[3] – Michael Sandle, Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1988, p.92.

[4] – Marco Livingstone, “History in the Present Tense”, Michael Sandle, Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1988, p. 9.

[5] – Coosje van Bruggen, Claes Oldenburg: Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 1979, p.69.

[6] – Ibid, p. 3.

[7] – In Iwona Blazwick, Head Shop, Shop Head: Works 1966-2006, Steidl, 2008, p.26.

[8] – Chrissie Iles, Central Symmetrical Rotation Movement, exhibition catalogue, Whitney Museum of American Art, 2008, p.62.

[9] – Tate website – http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/CollectionDisplays?venueid=2&roomid=5676, accessed 21 July 2011

[10] – Text taken from the kunsthalle zurich press release on http://www.mmparis.com/noghost.html accessed 21 July 2011

Comics Forum 2011 is supported by Thought Bubble, the University of Chichester, the Henry Moore Institute, Dr Mel Gibson, Routledge, Intellect and Molakoe Graphic Design.

 

Sculpture and Comic Art #2: Chris Ware: Cabinets, Cardboard and Joseph Cornell by Kirstie Gregory

The first connection I made between the work of Chris Ware and the field of sculpture was probably the simplest, or most literal. In one of the saddest extended stories in a book full of extended, pitiful episodes, the young Jimmy Corrigan almost makes friends with a cheerful Italian boy, pays a visits to his house, and meets his father, “who seemed so kindly, thoughtful and gentle… In short, unlike any grown-up I’d ever met before”. [1] Jimmy is enchanted by the family, particularly the father and his iron-toy workshop, and entranced by a previously undiscovered skill – he learns to fashion a miniature horse from beeswax – before being ignominiously removed from the house by his grim and joyless father. Despite this, Jimmy waits hopefully for his new friend to bring him the finished sculpted toy, imagining he can use it to impress and ‘win’ a girl he admires. The horse turns out to be tragic, a lumpish half-a-horse, much to the amusement of the other boys, and (as Ware twists the dagger into his hero’s heart), the adored female object of his affections. The pathetic non-sculpture is over the course of a few pages a symbol of friendship, a talisman of hope, the creative spirit incarnate, an amulet which wards off harsh reality, and ultimately, a broken dream – certainly a powerful narrative device.

Chris Ware’s body of work is a gift to the subject of comics and sculpture. I have not read any direct quotation from Ware regarding the influence of Joseph Cornell on his 3-D work, but I cannot imagine this is an original comparison. There are both formal and thematic connections, a notable drive for experimentation, as well as a marked interest and influence back and forth between popular culture and fine art, the junk shop and the art object, the toy shop and the vitrine. The example of Cornell’s work which perhaps has the strongest affinity with one of Ware’s is Untitled (Medici Slot Machine), 1942. I have no knowledge that Ware has seen this work, but it would sit very well alongside his Acme Book Dispenser, 1990. In addition, both small assemblages could be effectively evoked by the poetic manner in which Cornell describes the relationship between his boxes and their ‘penny arcade’ inspirations:

One might assemble, assort, and arrange into a cabinet – the contraption kind of the amusement resorts with endless ingenuity of effect, worked by coin and plunger, or brightly coloured pinballs – travelling inclined runways – starting in motion compartment after compartment with a symphony of mechanical magic of sight and sound borrowed from the motion picture art – into childhood – into fantasy – through the streets of New York – through tropical skies. [2]

Another interesting connection was brought to my attention in the same exhibition catalogue essay by Carter Ratcliff, with the author’s observation that “each of Cornell’s works is joined by its image-chains to other works”, resulting, writes Ratcliff, from the artist’s “obsessive desire for series.” [3] Of course the necessity for thinking and working in series is not specific to Ware among comic artists, rather it indicates a broader connection between Cornell, sequential art, framing devices and also, more tangentially perhaps, a link to issues of collecting and the collectible. This commitment to sequence and series is most strongly represented in Cornell’s ‘grid-boxes’ – works whose integral structure is a ‘grid’ of smaller boxes within the main framing mechanism, these internal grids, or panels, are sometimes left blank, sometimes carefully display a tiny object – truly a ‘missing link’ between comics and sculpture.

To turn from form to function, although I am wary of comparing Ware’s work with the majority of kinetic sculpture, as regards both appearance and intention, there is one Paul McCarthy kinetic installation, Bavarian Kick, 1986-1993, which has something of both the tin-toy appearance and unsettling weirdness of Ware’s Quimbies the Mouse, 1993, and Sparky the Singing Cat, 1990. All three works’ central protagonists are distinctly odd and unashamedly cartoonish, both in appearance and action, as if the maker is trying to solve the impossible puzzles of art and life by dispensing with pretensions and sophistication and adopting a haphazard Frankenstein approach. Curator Katia Schurl’s catalogue text summarises McCarthy’s wider concerns, “often it is the effect of taboos and clichés that McCarthy exploits, e.g. to expose the American Dream as hypocrisy or denigrate supposed middle-class values such as family or respect for authority.” [4] Ware does not quite ‘expose’ or ‘denigrate’, but with characters such as Jimmy Corrigan, Rusty Brown and Big Tex he certainly questions the facades and mores which people and families construct, the wisdom of elders and the essential fragilities of social connections. I would otherwise shy away from further connections with kinetic art as a genre – Ware’s moveable sculptures have far more in common with hand-crafted children’s toys, and would be more at home in an eccentric toy-shop than a white-cube art gallery.

A final sculptural piece which I would like to refer to is Ware’s Potato Man’s House, 1989. This construction (and the natural framing device provided by the house structure) seems particularly attractive to comics artists – perhaps as it can both develop a narrative and reveal multiple viewpoints at once – two others who have used the house as the fundamentals of a sculpture are Canadian Seth, and his models for his fictional city, and London based comic artist Karrie Fransman, whose Behind the Mirror model featured in the 2010 exhibition at London Print Studio, That’s Novel: Lifting Comics from the Page. Daniel Raeburn has drawn attention to Art Spiegelman’s observation that:

‘story’ descended from the mediaeval Latin ‘historia’, which meant ‘picture’ as well as the horizontal division of a building. Latin users derived this conflation from the mediaeval practice of placing a picture in each window of a building, especially in churches. A storey was literally a row of coloured pictures. [5]

 As well as unique sculptural works, Ware has produced, or been involved in the production of, some highly desirable collectibles. He does however display disgust and cynicism for this side of the comics ‘industry’ through his character Rusty Brown – the epitome of the worst kind of collector, immoral and pathetic, and a clever warning to any potential Ware fanatics. Rusty is succinctly summed up by writer Andrew Arnold as “a nasty collector of pop-culture detritus.” [6] Rusty routinely cheats his only friend out of memorabilia and has apparently ruined his own life through this single-minded addiction to plastic pretend people. Curiously, and again in common with Cornell, Ware is himself a committed collector, however, not of box-fresh memorabilia, and perhaps this is the important point. In an interview with Beth Nissen, Ware apparently passionately declares:

I collect old sheet music, old instruments – especially banjos, phonographic cylinders, old comic strips, toys. And old photo albums – I find them in thrift shops and junk shops, and I think to myself, Why would anyone do that? Throw something this fantastic away? [7]

Both Ware and Cornell, judging from the latter’s similar recollections of solo forages around the thrift shops of New York, are actually collectors of what most people would throw away, and if not throw away, then certainly not revere; they see new possibilities and beauty in commercially worthless items, whereas Rusty Brown and his ilk elevate the materially (and spiritually) cheaply produced to skyscraper prices.

One cannot but notice in the appearance of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (in its graphic novel format), Ware’s awareness of the book as moveable, portable object – it must be manipulated in order to be read, as well as, and this is regular habit of Ware’s, containing more than one cut-out model which the reader could potentially cut-out and keep. As well as being conscious of comic book as object, and as potential co-producer of cut-out object, Ware is confident and well-practised in manipulating traditional publishing techniques, in his own words he describes how “you can look at a comic as you would look at a structure that you could turn around in your mind and see all sides of at once,” [8] as well as describing comics as “a map of the fourth dimension”. [9] He is remarkably aware of the potency and potential of space and time passing, temporal space – putting oneself in space, a story receiving space, imagery in limited space – concerns perhaps most evocatively brought into focus in the following observation, again from Raeburn:

Ware appended to his first novel a corrigendum in which he noted that the four or five hours it takes to read his first book is the same amount of time that he ever spent with his father. The book itself, he concluded, encloses the same quantity of physical matter as the urn holding his father’s ashes. [10]

Kirstie Gregory is the co-convenor of Sculpture and Comic Art, taking place at Leeds Art Gallery on the 16th of November as part of Comics Forum 2011.

[1] – Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth, Pantheon Books, 2000.

[2] – Carter Ratcliff, “Joseph Cornell: Mechanic of the Ineffable”, in Kynaston Shine (ed), Joseph Cornell, The museum of Modern Art, New York, 1980, p.46.

[3] – Ibid, pp. 47-48.

[4] – Katia Schurl in Moving Parts: Forms of the Kinetic, Peter Pakesch and Guido Magnaguagno (eds), Verlag der Buchhandlung, Walter König, Cologne, 2004, p.68.

[5] – Daniel Raeburn, Chris Ware, Laurence King Publishing Limited, 2007, p. 26.

[6] – Andrew Arnold, “The Depressing Joy of Chris Ware”, time.com, 27 November 2001 [http://www.time.com/time/columnist/arnold/article/0,9565,185722,00.html]. Accessed June 24 2011.

[7] – Beth Nissen, “Transcript: An Interview with Chris Ware”, cnn.com, 3 October 2000. [http://edition.cnn.com/2000/books/news/10/03/chris.ware.qanda/]. Accessed June 24 2011.

[8] – Daniel Raeburn, Chris Ware, p.25.

[9] – Ibid, p. 21.

[10] – Ibid, p.15.

 

Sculpture and Comic Art #1: An expanded Call for Papers by Kirstie Gregory

The Henry Moore Institute is a world-recognised centre for the study of sculpture in the heart of Leeds. An award-winning exhibitions venue, research centre, library and sculpture archive, the Institute hosts a year-round programme of exhibitions, conferences and lectures, as well as developing research and publications, to expand the understanding and scholarship of historical and contemporary sculpture. The Institute is part of The Henry Moore Foundation, which was set up by Moore in 1977 to encourage appreciation of the visual arts, especially sculpture.

The ‘Sculpture & Comic Art’ Call for Papers and conference, part of the wider Comics Forum 3 day event, has been developed by the Henry Moore Institute’s Research Programme. The Research Programme is central to the activities of the Institute, aiming to encourage research into sculpture both within its walls and without, acting as a hub to develop a network of people with a particular interest in sculpture.

As historical and theoretical interest in comic art continues to grow, the Institute plans to explore the relationship between sculpture and comic art, looking at how formal and thematic concerns migrate, and have migrated across the last hundred years or so, between these practices. By using the phrase ‘comic art’ we mean to be inclusive of cartoons, comics, comix and graphic novels, and although examples of very early sequential visual art such as Trajan’s Column and the Bayeaux Tapestry are of interest, our focus is more linked to developments and connections which have emerged since the late nineteenth century, perhaps beginning around the time of Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846), an artist synonymous with the beginnings of modern comics.

Comic figuration is a regular influence on much modern and contemporary sculpture – allowing the body to be reinvented and restaged in new and fantastical ways beyond anatomical norms, and allowing sculptors to use a visual shorthand embracing exaggerated silhouettes, strange dramatic perspectives and subtle to exaggerated caricature. In addition to caricature, and its sort-of opposite, the ‘simplified reality’ style explained succinctly by Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics, comic art has also perhaps given sculptors and installation artists (such as Tom Friedman and Jake and Dinos Chapman) inspiration and ‘licence’ to push the boundaries of their work into the grotesque and ultra-violent.

By the same token we can also find the direct appropriation of comic and cartoon characters (often animals or superheroes) in recent installational practices, including those of Paul McCarthy, Maurizio Cattelan, Mark Dion and Thomas Schütte. This is always a choice by the artist heavy with significance, however intentions and outcomes are massively various, with contemporary artists Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe highlighting issues of ownership and identity in their collaborative project ‘No Ghost Just a Shell’, for which an anonymous Manga character was bought from a Japanese design agency and given a new ‘life’, or Claes Oldenburg in the 1960s turning the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head into a Mouse Museum, literally elevating comic figuration into the realm of high art, as well as commenting on consumer culture and the allure of the collectible.

Such co-options are, in turn, echoed in sculpture’s intriguing place in many comics and graphic novels, where it is often given special powers and dynamic plot-determining roles within the visual sequential narratives constructed. From Tintin and Asterix to Jason Lutes’ Berlin: City of Stones, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, the sculptural object is frequently employed as a potent or poignant visual device to heighten tension, turn the plot or embody a character’s emotions. Sculpture has also been caricatured within comic art since the earliest cartoon strips and tensions between high and low art emphasised.

The role of narrative (sculptural and sequential) is significant, within and between the ‘gutter’ and the gallery – the way we move through a story or installation, book or gallery, the choices the reader or viewer makes, or thinks they make, and the creative manipulations of writers, illustrators, sculptors and curators. Also tied into this are issues of spatial boundaries and the links and significance when creators from both genres break with convention and lead their audiences down new narrative paths. Comic writers and artists who have worked with unusual narrative and spatial techniques must be plentiful, and examples which spring to mind initially include Chris Ware’s disturbing, disjointed narrative in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth and what Paul Gravett describes as “the quaking panel borders” in Raymond Briggs’ When the Wind Blows, representing “the impact of the bomb”.[1]

Finally, as sculptors have turned to comic art, so artists who began their practice in two dimensions (such as Robert Crumb, Paul McDevitt, David Shrigley and Chris Ware) have turned to three-dimensions. What does examining this shift and the works produced tell us about the links/lacunae between the mediums and the reasons and choices behind these different forms? This move from 2D to 3D is also relevant to issues of the power and popularity of the small-scale figurine, and the collectible’s standing as a three-dimensional demonstration of characters originally articulated in two dimensions, whether on the page or in animated film. The attraction of the figurine is applicable to both the comic and the sculptural spheres as is the wider subject of collecting.

In future blog entries I hope to focus more closely on some of these subjects – but please note these ‘categories’ are not exclusive and we very much welcome papers which approach the relationship between sculpture and comic art from different perspectives.

Kirstie Gregory is the co-convenor of Sculpture and Comic Art, taking place at Leeds Art Gallery on the 16th of November as part of Comics Forum 2011.

[1] – Gravett, Paul, Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life, London: Aurum Press Limited, 2005. p.149.

 
 
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