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Graphic Language
An interview with Erika Jo Brown, the University of Iowa Museum of Art’s Manager of Marketing and Communications, about Graphic Language: The Art and Literature of Comics.
Fiction: Josephine Rowe and Dina Viergutz.
Poetry: Stephanie Goehring and Jeff Griffin.

On this Lit Show, Erika Jo Brown discusses Graphic Language: The Art and Literature of Comics, an exhibition by the University of Iowa Museum of Art. The show presents a history of what we, today, call comics: a catch-all term that’s dilated to include graphic novels and newsstand superheroes and syndicated funnypages and ambitious works of illustrated literature.

Organized chronologically, this exhibition lets us watch comics come of age. We see the form’s nascent stirrings in 18th century sequential artwork, the cheeky verve of 19th century newspaper polemics, the pinnacle of the Sunday Comic Strip in the early 20th century, through the blood-spattered, hormonal heyday of Entertainment Comics in the 1940s, the rise of the costumed crusader in the 1950s, up through contemporary masters like Joe Sacco and Robert Crumb. One thing that makes the exhibition thrilling is that it features original comic artworks—not the reduced-scale reproductions found in newspapers and printed books. You can pore over a full-size Little Nemo strip inked by Winsor McCay’s hand, say, or an original Prince Valiant mockup, twenty times the size of the Sunday strip. On this scale, the artistry and effort put into every panel is evident: you can see each inked pencil line, each erasermark, text edits quite literally cut and pasted with tiny shears.

Erika Jo Brown, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is Manager of Media and Communications at the University of Iowa Museum of Art. Graphic Language is running at the Black Box theatre here in the Iowa Memorial Union through December 11th.

This episode also featured fiction by Josephine Rowe and Dina Nayeri Viergutz, poetry by Stephanie Goehring and Jeff Griffin. Excerpts read by Stephanie Goehring and Dina Nayeri Viergutz below (only a portion of this broadcast was recorded).

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