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Local Cartoonists Showcase

Now thru October 18th

The DRAWN IN PITTSBURGH exhibit was curated by Bill Boichel, Joyana McDiarmid, and Wayne Wise.

Pittsburgh is a comics town. The entire southwestern portion of Pennsylvania has been a locus of comics creativity and fandom from the earliest days of the art form, and has produced some legendary creators. Matt Baker, artist of Phantom Lady and It Rhymes With Lust (arguably one of the first graphic novels), grew up in Homestead. Jack Cole, creator of Plastic Man is from Newcastle. Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and countless others, was raised in Johnstown. Pittsburgh native Jim Shooter sold his first script to DC Comics when he was thirteen years old and went on to be editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics.

A number of creators who have worked for major publishing companies call the greater Pittsburgh area home: Ron Frenz, Pat Olliffe, Scott McDaniel, Todd Nauck, Mark Zingarelli, Don Simpson, Wayno, Tom Scioli, Frank Santoro, Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg, to name a few. Pittsburgh is home to no less than four winners of the prestigious Xeric Grant from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird. And, of course, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Rob Rogers is one of the most heralded editorial cartoonists in the biz.  Every year our city produces more and more creators who self-publish books, create online content, and get work from major publishers.

The Pittsburgh Comics Club was one of the earliest organized comics clubs in existence, forming in the mid 70s. We are home to large number of comic book specialty stores (way too many to list), some of them among the oldest existing comics shops in America. The ToonSeum itself is one of only three museums dedicated to the comics and cartooning arts in the country.

The current scene in Pittsburgh is as vibrant as ever, perhaps even more so, with dozens of writers and artists producing a wide variety of comics art. The Drawn In Pittsburgh exhibit is an effort to showcase the breadth of styles and ideas being produced in our area at this moment. On these walls are pages representing artists who have had long professional careers in the comics industry. There are also newer artists just beginning their professional career. Today’s market and technology allows for a greater distribution for self-published work of all kinds. Some of our artists have been publishing their own stories, online and in book form, for years. Their pages are here as well.

The goal of the ToonSeum in presenting this exhibit is to draw attention to the amazing wealth of talent in our hometown. We are proud of our local creators and they deserve wider appreciation and a wider audience. Our hope is that you will join us in discovering the quality, variety and expressivity of what is being Drawn in Pittsburgh.


Slinging Satire

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.

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