Someday, maybe 100 years from now, people will look back on comic books about super heroes and evil scientists and say, “How quaint. What a simpler time that must have been.”
Well, the historians at Maine Historical Society aren’t planning to wait 100 years. They’ve decided to explore the importance and impact of comic book artists and comic books right now. The historical society’s exhibit “Kapow! Maine Comic Artists” features the work of 10 contemporary artists and illustrators from Maine whose work ranges from the “Big Nate” daily comic strip and books, to comic books about Beavis and Butt-Head and Barbie.
The exhibit, which opened in early February and is on display through March 31, features 26 framed works plus two display cases of artifacts, including story boards and action figures.
The exhibit continues a theme for the historical society of examining creativity in Maine, today and historically, said Kate McBrien, the chief curator.
“Comic art is one form of creativity that is thriving in Maine, but is often overlooked,” said McBrien.
Last fall the historical society had an exhibit called “Creative Maine,” which included 17 parade banners made in 1841 by the members of the Maine Charitable Mechanics Association. Also last fall, the society opened a smaller exhibit of various artists from all over Maine called “Spark! Maine ART Stories.” It is also on view through March 31.
The artists featured in “Kapow!” include several who are known nationally and whose work ranges from editorial cartoons to comic strips and comic books.
Rick Parker, a Georgia native living in Maine, is best known for the “Beavis and Butt-Head” comic book, with characters based on the hit MTV show. He worked for Marvel Comics for about 20 years and is currently working on a graphic memoir.
Lisa Trusiani worked on “Barbie Comics” for Marvel and was also the writer for the nationally syndicated comic strip “Apartment 3-G.”
Portland’s Lincoln Peirce is the writer and illustrator of the nationally syndicated “Big Nate” comic strip and the “Big Nate” books.
George Danby is an editorial cartoonist who has worked at the Providence Journal, New Haven Register and Bangor Daily News and whose work has appeared in The New York Times and the Washington Post.
Lewiston native Paul Pelletier has worked with both DC Comics and Marvel and has drawn books featuring some pretty famous characters, including Aquaman, Flash, Fantastic Four and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Other artists involved in the exhibition include Sean Moran, Jay Piscopo, Mili St. John, Mort Todd and David Harrigan, who creates art under the name Scarecrowoven.
Some of the works are in color, such as Todd’s dynamic “Monsters Menace Maine,” Piscopo’s “Capt’n Eli” graphic novels and Danby’s work depicting President Donald Trump facing off with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Others, like a nine-panel “Big Nate” strip, are in black and white.
The display cases include story boards used to develop stories for Barbie comics and the Sea Ghost action figure, a character created by Piscopo.
“MHS was thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase this art form and help both Mainers and tourists to consider the creation of comics in Maine,” McBrien said.
WHAT: “Kapow! Maine Comic Artists”
WHERE: Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, through March 31
HOW MUCH: $8 adults, $7 students and seniors, $3 children 6 to 17, free for children 5 and younger and for members.