Masters of American Comics

July 10th, 2006 | Uncategorized

Thanks to Anna the sculptor in Madison who told me about the Masters of American Comics exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I went to it yesterday morning. The hotel shuttle bus dropped me off in front of this cool orange sunburst sculpture.


Then I walked across a bridge to the art museum, which looks like some sort of infernal catapult about to launch a projectile across Lake Michigan.

milwaukee art museum.jpg

The comics exhibit was amazing. The Winsor McKay (Little Nemo in Slumberland) and George Herriman (Krazy Kat) stuff in particular blew me away. It was stunning to see it in black and white, without the printed newspaper colors. Vigorous, free, confident, accurate. I got all excited by McKay’s masterful perspective and architectural renderings. (Some people I’ve talked to have objected to the “Masters” in the title, I guess on sexist grounds, and it’s true there’s not a woman in the whole exhibit, but McKay is a fucking master so I’ll let it go.) His pages were so vivid I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Little Nemo tumble right out onto the gallery floor.

big nemo.jpg

Here I am waiting for the shuttle bus to pick me up and take me back to the hotel so Amy from Broad Vocabulary can drive me to Chicago.

climbing sunburst.jpg

13 Responses to “Masters of American Comics”

  1. McCay Fan says:

    Yeah, McCay is amazing. Have you seen his animation? Gorgeous stuff. Centaurs and dinosaurs and the sinking of the Lusitania, which is still considered one of the all-time best animated shorts. Here’s a reference:


  2. ES says:

    Wow, I hope that exhibit is travelling to somewhere near NYC. They say that McCay chose the mythical & extinct creatures to animate so that noone could mistakenly think he was merely rotoscoping (tracing the shapes frame-by-frame from live action footage). Herriman and McKay both, what imaginative, subversive ink mindscapes.

  3. ES says:

    p.s. Hooray, yes! This exhibit is in Milwaukee til August 20th, then travels to:

    The Jewish Museum, New York, and Newark Museum, New Jersey (September 15, 2006–January 7, 2007)

  4. jmc says:

    Okay, I *love* the picture of you climbing the sculpture upside-down. Is this usual, or is the whole touring thing making you a little crazy (-ier than usual)?

    Your reading in Madison was most excellent – thank goodness for those wonderful feminist bookstores that banded together to get you to the Midwest.

  5. ES says:

    Now seeing those Flick’r-s. Yeeee-hah, I don’t guess the sculpture climb was just a figure pose for some Nemo tumble neither.

  6. sdampf says:

    Great drawing of you illustrating your point of nemo tumbling.
    Im wondering if you did the drawing while you were in the museum or if you did your pose, click, draw method.
    As for your jungle gym experience, I wouldn’t have passed that up either. You can never have too many stock photos, and its just fun!

  7. sdampf says:

    Oh wait damn, you were posing for the Nemo drawing?

  8. JJ says:

    A lot of people here in Milwaukee HATE the sunburst sculpture but I have always liked it and got a big kick out of seeing you climb it.

  9. Ann S in Madison says:

    How brilliant that you made it to the exhibit! Timing is everything in life, and I’m glad you could take it in on your Midwestern swing. Travel safely today and (by the time you read this), welcome home. If I were there I would give you a popsicle, put out a fresh towel, and go away.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Holy fuck, you can climb!!!

  11. Deb says:

    LOL A kid on the jungle gym………looks like fun!

  12. Sarah R. says:

    Just a nod to the building itself. I have yet to make it to Masters… (which is ridiculous, since I live in Madison, profess to love comics, and am fascinated with architecture), but the new Milwaukee Art Museum that you visited is the only structure in the country designed by Santiago Calatrava, creator of some of the most iconic structures of the latter part of the 20th century.

    I love that building. It looks, to me, like a sail ready to take off, or a series of fish bones, or a weird amalgamation of the two.

    I’ve got to get to that exhibit.

  13. Chaka says:

    Alison…Thank you so much for Kris Dresen website information, I saw her strip a while back and had no idea where to find her work…You are right, I can’t understand why she is not famous either..