Celebrating Marvel's Mightiest Heroes
Now through August 23rd
The Avengers, created for Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, first appeared on newsstands in Avengers #1, cover-dated September, 1963. Given the preponderance of super-heroes in comic books since the 1960s, it's difficult to imagine that after World War II they had almost completely disappeared from comics. The late 1950s and early 1960s, a period now known as the Silver Age of Comics, saw a Renaissance of the genre. DC Comics had started the trend with the appearance of The Flash in 1957 and continued to build on this success. Marvel Comics soon followed with the introduction of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and a host of others.
DC had found success by combining all of their most popular superheroes into a single team book, The Justice League of America. Marvel saw the wisdom of this approach and The Avengers were born.
Tagged as ‟Earth's Mightiest Super-Heroes," the team was originally comprised of five of Marvel's most successful characters: The Invincible Iron Man, the Mighty Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man and the Wasp (who, in spite of their lack of adjectives were considered top tier superheroes at the time). After defeating the menace of Loki, the Norse god of evil and deceit, they realized that together they were able to combat threats none of them could face alone. And so the Avengers were formed.
But the membership would not remain stable. It became apparent very early that the Hulk was too volatile to be a team player. By issue #2 he was gone and for the next fifty years, except for rare appearances, was never really a member again.
The Hulk was quickly replaced. In Avengers #4 Captain America, a legendary hero long thought dead, was found in suspended animation in a glacier. Though not an original member the Living Legend of World War II quickly became the heart and soul of the team as well as their de facto leader.
In 2012 the Avengers movie took the core concept of the team and updated it for a new audience, introducing a small group of characters. In Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron new characters are being introduced, continuing to evolve as they have in the comics.
About the Exhibit
Collecting more than 50 years of Avenger original comic artwork this exhibit offers Avengers artwork from every decade and most of the major artists that have worked on the comic book. The roster in our Lou Scheimer Gallery includes such luminary artists: Jack Kirby, John and Sal Buscema, George Perez, John Byrne, Jim Starlin, Jim Lee and many more. Come see the history of Earth's Mightiest Heroes unfold on our gallery walls.
Please join us for our Avengers Assemble opening party on Saturday, May 30th at 7:00 p.m. Avengers aficionado Wayne Wise of Phantom of the Attic to answer any and all quesions you might have about Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Admission is $20. Beer, wine and lite bites will be served. Tickets are available at avengersparty.eventbrite.com
Political Cartoons and the First Amendment
Now through september 20th
American editorial cartoons existed even before America. Paul Revere and Ben Franklin both drew powerful political cartoons in the years leading up to the birth of this sovereign nation. I guess you could say satire is in our blood.
The ToonSeum is proud to announce the opening of Slinging Satire: Political Cartoons and the First Amendment. This compelling exhibition of current editorial cartoons was formed in conjunction with the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists and the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum and showcases the work of today’s top political cartoonists. Featured artists include a dozen Pulitzer Prize winners, five Herblock Award recipients and a host of celebrated cartoonists from the publishing industry’s most prominent newspapers, websites and magazines.
This exhibit gives political junkies and cartoon fans a rare opportunity to see both original ink on paper and digitally created editorial cartoons side by side in a museum setting.
Slinging Satire is divided into two parts. The first half of the exhibit contains political cartoons that address current issues like global warming, racism, guns, gay marriage, and the 2016 presidential campaign. The second half of the exhibit is dedicated to cartoons that were created in response to the January 7th terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. During that attack 12 people were killed, including 4 cartoonists.
“Controversy sparks and fuels the art of political cartooning,” wrote curators Sara Duke and Martha Kennedy in the June issue of Library of Congress Magazine. “Political cartoonists thrive in a climate that allows contention and freedom of expression. The compelling union of image and word that characterizes political cartoons sets them apart from other art forms, endowing them with the potential to inform, provoke and entertain.”
The political cartoonists represented in this exhibition are no strangers to controversy. Angry phone calls, bitter emails and toxic comments all come with the territory. On the other hand, most of these artists have never felt that their lives were in danger or that their human rights were under threat due to their profession. That isn’t true for cartoonists working in other parts of the world. In countries like Syria, India, Malaysia and Iran, editorial cartoonists have been beaten, imprisoned, exiled or worse.
In the wake of the horrific Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, satire is being reexamined. Some fear political cartooning and freedom of speech are under threat. Others say cartoonists need to be more sensitive about drawing images that offend certain religions and cultures. The cartoons in this exhibit examine free speech from the perspective of the cartoonist while furthering a dialogue about what constitutes “fair” satire. This provocative commentary forces us to consider important questions. Do some forms of satire cross a line and if so where is that line? When does free speech become hate speech and should they both be protected? If not, who decides what is acceptable and what isn’t?
One thing is certain. Love them or hate them, political cartoons represent free speech at its most transformative and provocative.
Slinging Satire: Political Cartoons and the First Amendment was curated by Rob Rogers, with help from curator Andrew Farago, cartoonist Jack Ohman, and animator Mark Fiore. This exhibit is based on a 2014 Association of American Editorial Cartoonists show at the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum. Singing Satire will be on display at the ToonSeum through September 20th, 2015.