New comic art exhibition in Newcastle is an absolute delight for British comics fans

Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories - Press Image

Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories - Press Image

Regular downthetubes readers will recall our previous coverage of Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories, the new exhibition at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle – but now it’s opened, we can reveal some of the amazing British comic art on display.

Running until June 2018, the brand-new exhibition celebrates the creativity of comic book art. Gathering together an eclectic mix of original iconic comic art, alongside work by current children’s comic makers, this colourful family-friendly exhibition will run for a year before embarking on a countrywide tour.

"Heros the Spartan" for Eagle by Frank Bellamy
“Heros the Spartan” for Eagle by Frank Bellamy. Photo: Peter Hansen
"The Steel Claw" by Jesus Blasco
“The Steel Claw” by Jesus Blasco
Frankie Stein cover art by Robert Nixon. Photo: Peter Hansen
Frankie Stein cover art by Robert Nixon. Photo: Peter Hansen
Roy of the Rovers
Roy of the Rovers. Photo: Peter Hansen

Included is art from Eagle – a gorgeous “Heros the Spartan” spread by Frank Bellamy; a great “Steel Claw” piece drawn by the brilliant Spanish artist Jesus Blasco, Frankie Stein by Robert Nixon, Roy of the Rovers art and more.

Miracleman Art in the Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories - Press Image

The interactive exhibition will immerse young people and comic book fans of all ages in the stimulating and imaginative world of children’s comics before providing them with an opportunity to create their very own settings, characters and stories using playful props and costumes.

"A Boy, a Girl and a Pet Shop"
Photo: Peter Hansen
Miracleman Art in the Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories exhibition. Photo: Peter Hansen
Miracleman Art in the Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories exhibition. Photo: Peter Hansen
Star Trek art by John Stokes, for Valiant and TV21, published in the 1970s
Star Trek art by John Stokes, for Valiant and TV21, published in the 1970s
Dan Dare art in the Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories exhibition. Photo: Peter Hansen
Dan Dare art in the Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories exhibition. Photo: Peter Hansen

Visitors will also have the rare opportunity to see influential British comic icons such as Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace as they were drawn in the 1940s and 50s, along with old friends Oor Wullie, Minnie the Minx and Roy of the Rovers.

Other famous characters being featured include Captain America, Wonder Woman, Superman and Hulk as drawn by Ian Churchill, the British artist and producer of comics for America’s two largest comic corporations – Marvel and DC comics.
Current British comic creators including Kate Brown, Jamie Smart and Laura Ellen Anderson will provide a unique insight into the creative process behind comic book making, featuring storyboards, sketches and 3D models.

Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories - Press Image

“Getting into comics is a great way to unleash your inner creativity,” enthuses Gill Rennie, Senior Curator from Seven Stories. “You can see from the amazingly diverse artwork on display in the exhibition that there are no limits – your story can go anywhere!

“It is thrilling to have been able to bring together artwork for such stars as Dennis the Menace and Superman. The skill and dedication of British comic artists through the years is truly inspirational.”

Just some of the fun, hands-on activities around the gallery include a random word generator, character creator, a giant roulette spinner to select comic settings, and a host of props, objects and special devices to inspire and create comic ideas. Visitors are also welcome to pull up a chair to read and share comics from Seven Stories’ very own comic book newsagent.

Throughout the opening weekend (22-23 July), families were invited to take part in fancy dress competitions, with the chance to win copies of top comics including The Beano and The Phoenix.

The exhibition is supported by Wood Group and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Seven Stories’ home – which gets some 70,000 visitors every year, including 8,000 visits from school children – is a carefully converted listed warehouse in Newcastle upon Tyne in North East England. The museum opened in 2005 and visitors can explore seven floors of galleries, creative spaces, a specialist children’s bookshop and a café. Everything Seven Stories does uses children’s books to inspire children and grown-ups to be curious, imaginative and creative. It strives to encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to enjoy a lifetime of reading for pleasure through inventive and immersive exhibitions and lively events and learning programmes.

• Comics: Explore and Create Comic Art at Seven Stories runs until June 2018 at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, Newcastle, NE1 2PQ. More details here: www.sevenstories.org.uk/exhibitions/comics

Our thanks to Peter Hansen for some of the images above

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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