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.
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.
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.
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.
“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
• This exhibition is available to other venues for exhibition – details can be found here on the Seven Stories web site
Our thanks to Peter Hansen for some of the images above