Monday, May 24, 2010

New York Librarians MeetUp at MoCCA


On Tuesday, May 18th eight hardy librarians braved the rain and/or who were able to leave work early enough visited the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art. This fascinating museum is hidden in an office building at 594 Broadway-Suite 401 (just south of Houston). If you think of comics as only superheroes or Archie and Veronica, you can gain a new appreciation of the artistry involved in telling stories through pictures and text.

A current exhibit, running through August 29th, entitled NeoIntegrity: Comic Edition features cartoonists, illustrators, animators and fine artists.
We were fortunate to have Keith Meyerson, the curator of the exhibit, as our guide. The concept of NeoIntegrity is to show how the combination of words and images can explain a culture to itself. Through understanding itself, a culture and society can become a better world. Meyerson spoke to us about what he described as iconic language created through the graphic arts. There should be no distinction between fine art and what some may call lesser arts, like comics. Indeed, the exhibition featured political art, social art and art for arts sake.

Meyerson talked to us about the history of comics. Before World War II, comics were read by children and adults alike. However, the McCarthy Era fell upon comics as well as other entertainment media and the Comics Code was enacted. This rather draconian measure was a reaction to the perceived ultraviolence of horror comics. Comics had to follow strict guidelines showing the triumph of good over evil without accompanying blood and gore. Reaction to this code gave rise to MAD Magazine in the 1950's and National Lampoon in the 1970's mainstream. The 60's and 70's produced underground comics such as RAW and Heavy Metal. Recently, graphic arts have been heavily influenced by Japanese manga. The exhibit has examples from all these eras. Meyerson explained how he designed the exhibit to have artists, their influences and those they influenced to be in proximity so viewers could examine the flow of ideas.

I highly recommend a visit to MoCCA.. It is a small museum but has much to offer to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of the visual arts. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12PM to 5M and there is a suggested donation of $5.00.

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