THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Untold lives blog

29 April 2014

Comics Unmasked - Countdown to opening

Just a few days to go until the opening of the Comics Unmasked at the British Library, the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics. The gallery is almost finished, loans from museums and private lenders are starting to arrive, and exhibits from the Library’s own collection are being placed in their display cases.

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It is particularly exciting that we are going to be showing such a wide range of materials from across the Library’s vast collection. There are books, magazines and newspapers from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, plus even older publications that help explain the historical background to British comics. We’ve hardy every exhibited any of these before, and we’re sure that everyone will find something new to discover. And they all say something about people across time:  what makes us laugh, what makes us angry, what we find titillating, how we deal with inequality or personal tragedy, and because the show looks at material on the edge, we can start to see how social and moral values have changed with time.

There are 193 exhibits in all, including published works, scripts from writers such as Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, and original comic artwork by the likes of Frank Quitely and Kate Charlesworth. Added to these are audio-visual points where you can listen to comics-related recordings from Library’s sound collections, explore web comics, and see clips from the world of film and video.

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 It’s all presented in a gallery space designed by Dave McKean: a different look and feel for each of the six exhibition sections reflecting the content (e.g. corridors of power for ‘Politics’), a twisting and turning overhead ribbon that draws the sections together, and a few pieces of new artwork that he has created to enhance the overall experience.

Doors open Friday 2 May at 10.00

Adrian Edwards  Cc-by
Co-curator Comics Unmasked

 

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