A few months ago I was asked by Adam Baumgold to curate a show of female cartoonists at his gallery. The show is set for a September 6th opening. I’m normally averse to comics shows and particularly to gender-specific shows of anything, but, given the lack of recognition given to all of the below artists, it seemed like it might be a good idea. There’s been a lot of hoopla about the lack of women in the Masters of American Comics exhibition opening in New York in September, most of which I think is misguided. There aren’t any because, for most of the century comics were created almost exclusively by men. There’s no way around that. But, by opening my little show at the same time as the Masters show, hopefully audiences can see that, yes, female cartoonists do indeed exist. In fact, I’d argue that between them Lauren Weinstein, Carol Tyler, Megan Kelso and Renee French probably released the best comics of the year so far. My choices are highly subjective–I simply based it on who I feel is doing the most visually inventive work at the moment, with a bit of an anchor in the history as well. There are tons of artists excluded, but, well, that’s my job. Anyhow, what follows below is the press release for the show and a few images as well.
Telling Tales: Contemporary Women Cartoonists
Curated by Dan Nadel
Adam Baumgold Gallery is pleased to present Telling Tales: Contemporary Women Cartoonists. Telling Tales is a subjective look at the last four decades of comics drawn by women.
Long a boys club, comics have, since the rise of the late 1960s underground, opened up to women as a medium like any other. Unfortunately, most current historical surveys are notable not only for the absence of women artists but also the absence of women as protagonists or even subjects in the medium itself. And while a gender-based exhibition might marginalize women even further, Telling Tales seems necessary as a slight corrective to the usual historical narrative.
The seventeen artists included here were chosen for their unique points of view and their idiosyncratic approaches to cartooning. All are free from the usual stylizations of comics, making stories that rely as much on line and mark as narrative and dialogue. Each artist has made an indelible mark on the medium, including Aline Kominsky Crumb, who helped revolutionize comics drawing with her scratchy line and brutal abstractions; Debbie Dreschler brings an unthinkably dense patterning to the medium; while Renee French’s lush pencils convey meaning in each stroke. Younger artists, such as Lauren Weinstein and Amy Lockhart, have appropriated old genres, such as confessional and superhero comics, and used them for their own purposes. The larger story of these artists is swiftly evolving and Telling Tales will be just the first chapter of this long artistic narrative.