“The 9th Art: Frames and Thought Bubbles” to open at Kennesaw State’s Zuckerman Museum of Art

 comic book images
left: Power Pack courtesy of June Brigman. Right: Batman courtesy of Darwyn Cooke. 

Exhibition features encyclopedic overview of comic art, from early newspapers to contemporary comic images

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan 5, 2021) — A part of Kennesaw State University’s School of Art and Design, the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA) will present “The 9th Art: Frames and Thought Bubbles,” opening January 23 and running through May 9. 

Curated by Geo Sipp, director of the School of Art and Design, the exhibition provides an encyclopedic overview of comic art, sharing examples of a wide variety of visual and narrative storytelling styles from panels in early newspapers to contemporary comic images.

Original drawings and prints presented in this exhibition highlight the artistic skills of master artists who defined the comic art form, as well as the contemporary artists who created some of the most famous and influential characters in our shared cultural experience. 

Comics on exhibition include Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland from 1908, and Will Eisner’s The Spirit from 1949; both pieces are on loan from The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus, Ohio. Louise Simonson and June Brigman’s Power Pack from 1984 is also on exhibition.

Brigman now teaches at the School of Art and Design, along with cartoonist and Emmy Award-winner Chris Malone, as Kennesaw State’s reputation continues to grow exponentially in both sequential art and digital animation, under the leadership and guidance of Sipp. He said, “I am pleased to present this prominent and extensive selection of works at the Zuckerman Museum of Art that challenges the construct of traditional narrative storytelling.” 

The term “9th Art” acknowledges the reverence for which Franco-Belgian audiences regard comics in their culture. In France and Belgium, the term bande dessinée, which derives from the original description of the art form as drawn strips—analogous to the sequence of images in a film strip—has been given the honor of being referred to as the 9th art since the 1960s.

French film critic Claude Beylie first used the term in an article he wrote for the magazine Lettres et Medecins in 1964. Expanding on German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics, in which major art forms are ranked, comics and bande dessinée have followed film and television into the realm of fine art.

The ZMA has planned additional programming and workshops in association with the exhibition; all are free and open to the public. To learn more about the ZMA, view the complete schedule and make a reservation, please visit https://arts.kennesaw.edu/zuckerman/.

--Kathie Beckett

[Read the review from Hogan's Alley Magazine here.]